Cami de Cavalls day 13 – Talaiot Ho!

Saturday 25 September 2021 – I was going to do another silly schoolboy thing and call this post “Cole Porter”, because the destination of today’s walking is Cala en Porter and I’ll use any tenuous link if necessary – as you’ll no doubt have noticed if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a day or so.  However, this got overtaken by events and an even more tenuous link, and you’ll just have to read on to find out about it. Won’t you?

(Well, you could get a hint by the usual short cut of viewing the highlights on Relive, I suppose.)

We took advantage of being in an apartment to have a Nice Cup Of Tea as part of breakfast (note to all socialists everywhere – proper tea is not theft), and generally made an effort to finish up those bits of our recent supermarket purchase which wouldn’t survive another day. Then we checked out and started on the day’s walking on a day which the Met Office promised to be partly sunny and rather warm (up to 28°C); it was certainly very humid. It stayed that way. Unfortunately.

The Cami de Cavalls organisers have done a very impressive job of trail marking. It’s very clear that a lot of effort has gone into making following it as straightforward as possible (or, of course, sometimes left or right). For example, there’s a hugely useful interactive map, which we Jane used to make sure that we knew where we were and where we had to go next. And this comes in handy when the signposts from the Cami’s organisers fall perhaps a little short of perfection.

(To be fair, it’s extremely rare that the route is not very clear; we came across an instance later in the day when the signs ran out and the interactive map was useful, and this was the first time that the route onwards was not pretty much obvious.)

The route leads upwards out of Sant Tomàs

and into nice views and fairly open country.

The first of these pictures shows our first sight of the end of the first of today’s two stages, Son Bou.  We passed something that we thought was possibly evidence of a very successful harvest of the main crop round here – stones (you’ll have to read through the blog to understand how witty this is)

and what we  decided was a “before and after” advert for the use of the harvest.

There were some more actual cavalls

wasps on the nest

a sow and (we posited) her piglets

as we entered a wetland which, we read, was the second most important after the Albufera area we’d passed through on the first day of our walking.

The photo above shows another view of Son Bou, which we entered shortly after, with our first ever viewing of people actually riding horses on the horses’ trail.

Son Bou itself is another seaside town (bigger than I had realised until I caught sight of it), and is a bit of a mixture of handsome houses

and less classy aspects.

It was the end of the first of today’s two stages, and so we started up the next one, theoretically a short hop to Cala en Porter. Of course, we’re in ravine country here, so the “hop” involves going up

and up

and then – well, bless me! – down

you get the idea, I’m sure.  I’m not going to belabour the point. Except maybe I will. Being in ravine country gives rise to some great views

and as we passed the bottom of the ravine – unsurprisingly a seaside cove – we saw evidence of previous mining activity

which, presumably, was to do with what looked like significant mineral content in the rocks hereabouts.

Having got down to this cove, we climbed again and found ourselves in open country

leading to today’s diversion, which was considerably more interesting and impressive than I had expected.  Menorca has a very significant megalithic (Talaiotic) heritage, which we’d first come across in our visit a couple of years ago. (I mention the Talaiotic word to help you understand the title of this post, by the way.) The Cami360 booklet mentioned a couple of sites worth a visit near the trail, so off we set to have a look.

The first is a sepulchre site, with a dolmen – one of Menorca’s oldest megalithic structures – a tomb that originally had a long corridor that one had to crawl along to get to the burial space.

and other impressive stone work surrounding it.

Some what further along the track is a site called Torre d’en Galmés.  From the view we got across the fields as we approached, I was expecting just, you know, this tower.  It’s actually among the most significant Talaiotic sites on the island, and much, much, bigger than I had expected. Indeed, it’s so significant that you have to pay to get in! You can read details on Wikipedia, but here are some photos wot I took:

There’s now research which indicates that at least some of the Talaiots – piles of stones whose purpose is actually unknown – might have something to do with early understanding of astronomy;

a collapsed Taula (“table”) which is in a space which had religious significance at the time;

a burial cave;

and olive oil mill/press;

and a hypostyle chamber (sadly with the roof no longer completely extant).

It really is a huge site; it knocks into a cocked hat any of the sites that Jane and I had seen on our previous visit to the island. It was quite awe-inspiring, even for me, though I was wilting quite considerably in the heat and humidity of the day.

After this, we walked into Cala en Porter, which was gently downhill (until another fucking sharp uphill section which I really didn’t want to have to deal with)

but which, of course, led to some decent views across the fertile valley at the base of the ravine we were basically going down (except for the bloody up bits).

It was our day for animal life, it would seem: pigs, piglets, horses – and then Jane spotted this little fella:

the first tortoise (Galapagos aside) I can ever recall seeing that wasn’t a pet.

We also had our first sight of Cala en Porter

which looked pretty high, for a cove, and made me wonder how much further uphill we’d have to walk later. Correctly, as it turned out; once we hit the end of the track and got onto tarmac, the trail led up – and then we had to walk slightly further up tp get to our hotel.  As I mentioned yesterday, this is a medieval castle first built in 1971.

There had been some doubt as to whether it was a one-star or 5-star hotel. I can now dispel that doubt: one-star, but this is not necessarily disastrous.  The proprietor, Rafael, is clearly a rogue, but he seems to be on top of his business.  He got us organised and into our rooms (air-conditioned! thank Christ! as I was fair wiped out by this stage) and, very shortly after, equipped with beer and other refreshments. The place is not posh, but it has its own charm. The interior décor is fairly unique – here is the upstairs “sitting room” from which the bedrooms lead off:                           

The bar/breakfast room, complete with Rafael and Mrs Rafael

and the place is not short of character.

Once the early evening arrived, we had tapas here – very good – and then retired for our usual administrative time – blogging or working out what the morrow would bring,

The diversion to the Talaiotic sites had extended the day’s walking from the expected 10 miles to 14, and added a few extra metres of ascent as well – we climbed 298m, some 45m more than the diverted walk. So we’re now up to a total of 121 miles, with two days’ walking – another 20 miles or thereabouts – to go. I expect them all to be hot and sweaty, but we are fundamentally enjoying ourselves, even during the uphill bits.  Do come back tomorrow to see how we got on, won’t you?

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