19.02.2017

The 221 in Majorca: between sea and mountains!


 
 
 

 

 

 

Sylvain Bazin leads the life you dream about. He goes from country to country every month, trekking across long distances either on foot or by bike. Wherever the wind blows him in the world, he breathes in deeply so he can describe it all in articles and books. Today, we are visiting Majorca.

 

 

 

 

 

I had never been to Majorca. I knew there were some lovely spots on this Mediterranean island, but you should always keep some discoveries in store. But I was delighted to get the chance to go there, courtesy of a press trip – and I extended my stay by a few days to explore the GR 221, Majorca’s longest hiking trail, which crosses the island’s tallest mountain range: the Tramuntana.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

The highest peaks here barely rise above 1,300 metres

Granted, the highest peaks here barely rise above 1,300 metres, and on my hike I just broke through the 1,200 metre barrier… but, irrespective of altitude, the mountains are jagged and steep sided! !

 

  

 

 

I began my journey with a long steady climb above the picturesque village of Valldemossa, one of the island’s top visitor attractions. But in late winter there were few tourists around, and I easily found mountain tranquillity on the GR 221.

Even the first slopes, rising above fields of olive trees and a beautiful forest, led me to wonderful vistas: the sea lapping at the rocks, and the mountains seemingly diving into the waves. Reaching that point took quite an effort, but was rewarded right away.

 

 

Deia, another perched village as charming as the last

After a very rocky downhill section – the terrain on this Mediterranean island is reminiscent of Corsica – I arrived in Deia, another perched village as charming as the last. I set off again the following morning, for a gentler walk. Now, although the occasional hillside beckoned, the GR 221 wound lazily between olive groves. These beautiful trees, sculpted by time, wind and water; the murmur of the sea, my day-long companion; and the low dry-stone walls around fields and houses (hence the trail’s Spanish nickname, “Camin de la pierra en sec”) lent this stage a quiet poetry. I stopped often to contemplate my surroundings and their peacefulness. The sun shone at its zenith. ;

The island, which I had thought less beautiful, was now working its spell: a far cry from the mass-tourism clichés it is often saddled with.

 

 
 
 

 

 

Oranges, olives and Mediterranean sun
 

The island, which I had thought less beautiful, was now working its spell

There may be menus in German in the small town of Soller, nestled at the foot of Majorca’s highest mountains, but the cathedral square was not teeming with German tourists in shorts. It was still a bit too chilly for that. But, as I wandered lively streets of still-open shops, I could not help but give Soller a thumbs-up: it is truly charming and hospitable

The first miles of the next day’s stage saw me admiring farms of citrus fruits, the local speciality: the mountains towered over the trees and villages, lit by lovely morning sunshine, albeit covered now and then by clouds pushed peakwards by the wind. Not bad at all!

 

 

 
Blats Pass

And during the day, the show would gain in intensity: as I advanced up a footpath that first snaked through a tremendous canyon, then, after a flat stretch, around a lake, but up steep gradients that took me to the highest point of my route: Blats Pass (altitude: 1,205m). These ridges serve up truly sumptuous panoramic views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stunning vistas and mountain winds
 

Up there, a gale was blowing. This was no surprise: this mountain range takes its name from the cold wind that blows over from the mainland. So I headed back down at a decent pace, into the sheltering forest; then followed the well-maintained path to Lluc Monastery, set amid the small valley.

 
 

 

montagne
 

 

 
 

 

It was a great place to spend the night, in the serene setting of a place devoted, in days gone by, to pilgrimages. The next morning, I walked a few more miles along the trail (which ends much further away, after a long downhill stretch to Por) before walking around the monastery; my bus and flight times meant I could not manage the full 9.5 miles to the end of the trail. Yet I still had time to discover some strange rocks

that make up chaotic formations akin to sculptures, and another seriously picturesque site. Above all, after four days exploring at my walker’s tempo, I was very keen to return, to discover other places and trails: the island is wonderfully well suited to hiking (and cycling too, judging by the incredible number of cyclists I saw on the way back to Palma!). Majorca, here I come (again)!