Tag Archives: Cami de Cavalls

Cami de Cavalls day 3 – First day of walking; our Favàritx Thing

Wednesday September 15, 2021 – Well, This Is It.  Today, we started walking the first stage of 20 over 13 days which will take us round the island – if we survive, of course.  It is one year and two days since we started our Camiflage walks, the exercise of trying to recreate in Surrey the walks we couldn’t do in Menorca due to the pandemic.

If, by the way, you can’t bear the idea of reading through the following screed about what we did and saw today, and if you’re prepared to spend 3 minutes watching a video, then the tl;dr can be viewed on Relive. You’ll see the route and some photos, but you’ll get more information by staying with me here.

To sum up: we had to walk 20.37 km between Mahón and Favàritx, over hill and dale with a vertical gain of some 450m – and we had to get to the end by 3.30pm, as this was the time we’d agreed to be picked up by the Cami360 folk to take us to our accommodation for the next stage.  The hotel breakfast started at 8am so we took as early a breakfast as we could and then Got on With It.

The start, as I mentioned before, was at the Three Horses statue by the convent, and we’d researched the first few metres of the route, making sure we were aware of signposts and such.

The route took us past a view of the industrial end of Mahón harbour

past caper bushes embedded in stone walls

and out on the road north of the town.  The first several kilometres of the route were on paved roads, which was a but dull, but the views were OK.  For example, we got a good sight of Mahón from the north side of the harbour

and a look at the back end of Golden Farm.

We wound our way along the road, occasionally spying mysterious things in the distance

before arriving in Sa Mesquida, which is a town with a popular beach, but also some nice residences.

Some convenient benches

gave us a chance to look over the place

and we eventually discovered the mysterious object.

We couldn’t get close to it, but it looks like it was once a watch tower, similar to those found all over the island.

Mesquida has a popular beach,

and also marks the point where the trail leaves paved roads.  From this point, the marking is done via posts.

and the surface becomes a lot rougher.

(The posts are very well-placed.  Above you can see one in the foreground and if you look carefully, you can see the next one.  It actually takes no little skill to get lost because the trail is so well-marked.)

The trail winds up and down

(occasionally very steeply up – see later) and can be very rocky.  The purity of the air is attested to by the existence of some very colourful lichen on the rocks.

As I said, the trail is very clearly marked, occasionally passing through traditional-style bentwood gates.

I don’t want to bore you, but actually some of this trail was really quite steep

(20% according to the booklet) and overall the going was somewhat tougher than I’d expected.  In theory, we’d covered pretty much exactly this mileage and ascent in one day in Surrey a year ago; but here, on rocks and tree roots, in 30 degree heat, it just seemed rather a  lot harder going.  So it was with considerable relief that we reached the mid-point of the day’s trekking.

The Cami goes left at this point, but we headed straight on into a town called Es Grau in search of beer and lunch.  I’m glad to report that we were successful, and, much refreshed but feeling we had to get on with it to make our 1530 deadline, we headed back to the track to get on with the next bit – officially Stage 2 of the Cami, from Es Grau to Favàritx.

The first part was on a very different surface – almost like a forest trail

leading past a lagoon.

into some weird woodland

and eventually offering a nice view back over Es Grau.

We got our first sight of our finishing point for the day

which was the lighthouse at Favàritx (you can see another watch tower in the foreground). From here, the track wended up over headlands and down into coves and beaches.

through some rather blasted scenery

past some actual cavalls (whose copious product could be found, piled up on the path by some unknown force)

past tantalising glimpses of our lighthouse destination – closer, ever closer –

through more weird woodland

past mysterious government-sponsored things hanging off trees (moth traps?)

to the end (phew!) of today’s part of the trail.

All we had to do was to walk to the lighthouse (which began to seem a long way away at this point, although it was probably only one kilometre on a paved road) but eventually we reached it

and got to our pickup point

with about five minutes to spare before our official pickup time, which is either brilliant planning or a source of considerable relief, depending on your view point.  Anyway Juan Gabriel (“Juanga”) from Cami360 turned up bang on time and drove us to our overnight accommodation. En route we asked him whether they were very busy, and he said that they really were: they had to manage 40 groups of people doing the trail in various places.  That’s a lot of co-ordination; let’s hope they carry on as well as they’ve started.

Our accommodation was actually back in Mahón – a fairly basic hostel, Hostal La Isla, but since we were fair knackered by this stage it didn’t really matter.   To support our tiredness. let me bore you with some stats.

  • Garmin Connect says we walked 15.6 miles, or 25km. OutdoorActive says 14.2 miles, or just under 23km. The Cami 360 book says 20.37km and we did a few detours. Whatever, it was quite long enough, thank you.
  • Garmin says we ascended 449 metres, much more than OutdoorActive’s 1000 feet. The official datum is 475 metres. Whatever it was, it felt tough.

We showered and rested a bit and then pottered out for some tapas before an early night, because we have agreed to be on the road again early tomorrow; the Cami 360 guys will take us back to Favàritx tomorrow so we can carry on our trek round the island.  So, please come back to the blog so you can see how we got on.  See you then!

Cami de Cavalls – Day 1: understanding what we’ve let ourselves in for

Monday September 13 2021. Well, what a day it’s been!

Re-acquainting ourselves with so many barely-remembered experiences: flying from Gatwick Airport; EasyJet flight being on time; the geography of Mahón, the capital; the glorious warmth of a Balearic city in late summer. And new experiences – finding out what we’ve let ourselves in for; and a Talaolitic sandwich inter alia.

So, to recap: my wife, Jane, and I are actually doing what we’d planned to do 12 months ago, having discovered the delights of Menorca, but which had been mullocated by the pandemic: to walk around the outside of the island – 185 kilometres on a trail called the Cami de Cavalls  – the “horse trail”, recognising that one can ride around the island’s periphery. Apparently one can do this on a bicycle these days, though goodness knows why you might actually think this is a good idea.

The first part of such a holiday is, of course, the domestic fluttering about that attends being away for the better part of three weeks: running the food supplies down, figuring out milk orders to ensure we can have a cuppa before leaving and dealing with the uncertainty of going to The Foreign where we don’t necessarily understand the Covid rules. Spain (including the Balearics) is on the UK Amber List, and both Jane and I have had our full complement of injections so far, so the theory is that the pandemic admin for the travel bit of this will be no different actually from our recent trip to Iceland. There’s always the frisson of doubt that it might all go pear-shaped at the last minute in the mix of emotions that attends the complexities of international travel these days.

In the event, everything about the travel went perfectly, with only one exception. Anyone who knows us will clearly understand that a glass of champagne in the departure lounge is an important part of our departure on holiday. To my utter horror, I discovered that Gatwick’s North Terminal doesn’t feature a Caviar House & Prunier bar. The South Terminal would, if it were open, but it isn’t at the moment.  So we simply scheduled a taxi to the airport to give us time for check in and security.

(Note to travellers: there are various maps online of Gatwick’s North Terminal; I can’t find one that reflects reality. As we were heading to our gate, we passed an establishment called “Juniper & co” which would appear to have been able to dispense bubbles had we but known about it; but it’s not shown on any map that I could find online.)

All of the above whinging is the reason that I was not able to share a photograph of fizz on the way out; I apologise to all my social media friends for letting them down. Anyway, we didn’t leave enough time.  The queues in Gatwick were not oppressive, but they were a bit slow-moving, so by the time we’d dropped our bags, gone through security and bought sandwiches for the flight, it was time to head to the gate. The flight itself was, like almost all of them these days, crash-free; we arrived slightly before schedule and were being deposited outside our hotel (from a very posh Merc) some 30 minutes later, which is pretty good.

The hotel Sant Roc is a boutique hotel and has some lovely features, which I’ll show later; but the room is not a lot larger than the bed, which doesn’t encourage lazing around. So we headed out fairly pronto to meet the Cami 360 folks who are primarily responsible for directing us as we walk around the island. Their office is in a road called Cala Sant Esteve, which I find mildly amusing.

I suppose it’s bleeding obvious if you think about it in any detail, but given that this outfit are co-ordinating multiple groups on their various journeys along a 185km trail, there’s quite a lot of complicated planning that has to be undertaken. We knew in advance that they would take our main baggage from overnight stop to stop for us and that we would stay in various hostelries around the island; but, of course, there’s a lot of picking people up and dropping them off involved. They explained this to us, and for planning purposes we had to make some guesses about how long each section would take us so they knew when we would arrive at pickup points. And that’s when a small dose of reality hit: we are going out in hot weather to walk a long distance and we need people to help us, when we haven’t really got much of a clue as to the details of what’s involved. Happily, the Cami360 folks are used to dealing with this and provided detailed maps, booklets and a WhatsApp group so that we could (a) have a clearer idea of what’s involved from day to day and (b) call for help if all of a sudden our plans changed. It seems a pretty impressive organisation so far: we have some 13 days to find out how good their execution is in the face of bumblers like me.

After this, we headed out for some evening sustenance, and found ourselves seated outside a very buzzy joint which did very basic burgers and such;

and on the menu was a “Talaolitic Sandwich” (you’ll have to read back on our previous blog to understand the significance of this). Actually it was just a toasted sandwich with spicy sausage, cheese and honey and it was delicious. Not quite sure why it could be associated with the stone age, though.

After such a meal, it was only right that we wander round the town to settle things down a bit, so we walked out along the harbour – one of the largest natural harbours in the world, you’ll remember – and then up to the cliff above to take in the view back, which is quite something.

Our hotel is just by the cathedral, and the square outside features several restaurants which gave the place a happy, warm mediterranean buzz.

We have a day of leisure in Mahón tomorrow (shopping for essentials such as gin and tonic) before we start the walk proper on Wednesday. Do keep in touch with the blog and you can see how things unfold.