Great Mediterranean Trek!
I've just got back from a long trip to Menorca, and the highlight was a trek around the island on a brand-new route called the Cami de Cavalls, or GR223. It's actually based on a centuries-old route used by horsemen (hence the name) to get around the island and keep it defended in times of strife. In recent years, much of the route had been closed by landowners, but over the past ten years or so walkers and horse-riders started campaigning for the restoration of the route. Sometimes, this involved pretty forceful, hands-on demonstrations, such as groups of walkers physically dismantling drystone walls and forcing access! The island government responded by restoring the route, giving it legal protection, and installing all the necessary gates, signposts and markers. In short, I've rarely seen a route made so well. As for the landscape, think of it in terms of the best limestone bits of the Yorkshire Dales, coupled with something like the South West Coast Path. Total distance round the island is 185km, so give it anything from one to two weeks. The route is open to walkers, horse-riders and mountain-bikers. The publisher Editorial Alpina has just produced an excellent 1:50,000 scale map of the island, showing the GR223, in a format which is as good as anything our own Ordnance Survey could achieve.
The GR223 website - (Click on the Union Flag for the English version)
Any questions... fire away!
It looks nice, Paddy
How well set up is it for camping, either officially or otherwise (& are the landowners still in a strop, as they have fearsome dogs over there?)?
Is water readily available, to buy or to filter?
Is it very popular yet? Will I get mown down by mountain bikers hourly/daily/weekly?
I'm dreaming up plans for October & November, which I think ought to be a decent time to do this
It was all wonderfully fresh, green and covered in flowers while I was there. In the middle of summer it goes the way of most Mediterranean places, turning brown and yellow as everything dries out. It should be fine when it cools down in October and November.
I never said about the water situation... There are some streams that flow all year round, which I guess could be filtered. The tap water is fairly heavily treated, so it's a bit like drinking from a swimming pool. Bottled water from the supermarket is pretty cheap... about one euro for five litres. I was doing walks all over the place, and at one stage I found it was a good idea to stash five litres in a lentisc bush, to be reclaimed when I did a couple of long stretches on the Cami de Cavalls.
It's incredibly easy to get around Menorca. It's about the size of the Isle of Man and has an excellent bus service. If taxis are needed, one phone number does it all... they just send the nearest available taxi to wherever you are... and if you just use it to get to the nearest bus stop, then no matter how remote your starting point, it won't cost more than 10 or 15 euros.
I stumbled on this post by accident, googling for maps of the Cami de Cavalls. I was in Menorca last year with the family and did some short walks on the Cami de Cavalls from our base in Cala n Porter and thought it was great.
I'm going back 19th of May with four of my friends (all 40's and 50's, regular walkers). We are flying to Mahon, then a bus to Ciutadella, then walking back to Mahon via the South Coast Section of the Cami de Cavalls. Staying first night in a Ciutadella, then walking next day to Cala Galdana via Calan' Bosch. Then next day to Cala'n Porter via Son Bou. Then next day to Mahon via the South East Coast resorts. Then flying back next day. Hotels and apartments this time of year are really cheap (around £10-£20 b and b), so we are just travelling light and staying in 1 star luxury.
Its about 15-20 miles a day with resorts half way to stop for lunch.
I found a map on the internet, Menorca Tour and Trail 1:40000, so was thinking of buying that. I think its probably only where the route is broken by resorts that we will need a map as the route itself is so well signposted.
Did you do the South Coast Section, anything we need to look out for?
The first time I came across Editorial Alpina maps was in Mallorca. In fact, I saw the Mallorca maps long before they went on sale, when they were still being researched. To say I was gobsmacked would have been an understatement. Before I went to Mallorca, I was given a huge box of maps... old military maps... two generations of IGN maps... and when I got to the island I bought the latest IGN maps. The whole stack of maps in my possession came nowhere near the detail contained on a single Alpina map! Since that time, the Alpina maps have gone into a second, even more detailed edition.
As far as Menorca goes, I got a copy of the Alpina map hot off the presses... possibly only a week or two after publication. While I was on the island, I checked every other available map, and on the whole they were quite appalling, or at least below what I expected. The Alpina map, on the other hand, exceeded my expectations, and to be brutally honest, that's something that rarely happens!
The Editorial Alpina Maps are great - but 'off' accuracy-wise by several hundred metres very often; this is the first series.
Paddy - I finally finished a complete traverse of the Tramuntana at a high-level thanks to Galatzo opening up; brilliant route, if a tad hard-going.
Plenty of scope in the Canary Islands throughout the winter.
The island-hopping GR131 is fully waymarked through the four western islands... Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The GR 130 around La Palma and GR 132 around La Gomera are also fully waymarked and proving popular. Just bear in mind that the higher parts of the GR131 on La Palma and Tenerife, both climbing as high as 2400m, can catch snow and get covered in ice in the winter.
Most of the Ruta de Pedra en Sec, or GR221 through the mountains of Mallorca, would be fine to walk in the winter, but there is one stretch climbing above 1400m that could be a problem if it snows.
Closer to home, but with the possibility of better weather, is the Channel Islands Way... a most entertaining island-hopping route around the five largest Channel Islands.
There must be lots of routes in the 'Low Countries' that you could walk in winter. For instance, I've walked the Visserspad, mostly along the Dutch coast, early in the year and found it perfectly OK. Then again, if you're prepared to sink that low (below sea level in places) there are plenty of long walks you could do closer to home.
Paddy Dillon wrote (see)
A pal of mine has just led his 16th group of walkers on a complete traverse of the Serra de Tramuntana. Two of his clients were 75 year old women, so he was really pleased that everyone completed it. But yeah... regardless... it's tough going up there!
Alan Smith 12 wrote (see)
Hi Paddy,I stumbled on this post by accident, googling for maps of the Cami de Cavalls. I was in Menorca last year with the family and did some short walks on the Cami de Cavalls from our base in Cala n Porter and thought it was great. I'm going back 19th of May with four of my friends (all 40's and 50's, regular walkers). We are flying to Mahon, then a bus to Ciutadella, then walking back to Mahon via the South Coast Section of the Cami de Cavalls. Staying first night in a Ciutadella, then walking next day to Cala Galdana via Calan' Bosch. Then next day to Cala'n Porter via Son Bou. Then next day to Mahon via the South East Coast resorts. Then flying back next day. Hotels and apartments this time of year are really cheap (around £10-£20 b and b), so we are just travelling light and staying in 1 star luxury.Its about 15-20 miles a day with resorts half way to stop for lunch.I found a map on the internet, Menorca Tour and Trail 1:40000, so was thinking of buying that. I think its probably only where the route is broken by resorts that we will need a map as the route itself is so well signposted.Did you do the South Coast Section, anything we need to look out for?Cheers,Alan.
Very interested in your walk on the cami de cavalls from ciutadella to Mahon.
I would live to do that!. I've walked parts of it but always had to return to the car.
It's really got me thinking of doing a similar thing in september.
Could you let me know how you got on and were you stayed.
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