Tag Archives: Countryside

Cami de Cavalls day 4 – Arenal Lane*

Thursday September 16 2021 – Yesterday’s walk combined two stages and was quite long; designed, presumably, to break our spirit so that we were less likely to be a nuisance over the fortnight. Today’s, Stage 3, looked to be shorter and easier, running from Favàritx to Arenal; and we would end up at our overnight accommodation, so didn’t need a pick-up at the far end and therefore had no particular constraints on our schedule. We had, however, rashly decided, when we met the Cami360 team on Tuesday, to start the day at 0730, since that would get us out walking before the heat of the day established itself.

(As yesterday, by the way, if you want the tl;dr of the day, you can watch it in about 2 minutes on Relive.)

So it was that the 0600 alarm woke us with something of a groan, particularly when we saw that the forecast was for a much cooler day than yesterday and one that featured rain. (In the end, though, an early start was a good idea – see later.) The breakfast, like other aspects of the hotel, was workmanlike rather than fancy, but at least we managed some decent tea (because it was ours) and marmite on toast (because the marmite was ours).

David from Cami360 turned up on a schedule that the Spanish would call prompt but which we wouldn’t, quite; but given how torturous it is to navigate a big van through the tortuous narrow roads in Mahón, I guess we should cut him some slack. Anyhoo, just before 0800, in a drizzle that one hardly noticed, we were at the start – not quite at Favàritx, as the Cami360 team spared us a couple of kilometres of yomping along a boring road. So we actually got going on the track.

We passed a hedgehog plant, which is apparently a thing here in the Balearics

although it doesn’t look like a hedgehog anything like as much as something we saw yesterday which is not, apparently, a hedgehog plant. Go figure.

Generally the scenery was pretty wild

but, as yesterday, varied considerably during the day. We passed some old fortifications

and the first part of the walk generally led us up and down from cove to cove over headlands.

We saw more evidence than yesterday of the work that goes into maintaining the trail. I found this little vignette rather amusing.

I mean, it makes sense, but just looks a little odd to have a horse prohibition on a horse trail. The other end of that duckboard was even more amusing

as I couldn’t imagine getting a horse to walk on the blocks under any circumstances. These blocks were actually not uncommon today, and provided a way to cross dips which were dry, but I could imagine being difficult in wet conditions.

Other things we passed: a well;

a distant view of the substantial hill in the middle of the island, Monte Toro, Menorca’s highest point;

further evidence of track maintenance work;

and some nice views, as the landscape changed quite dramatically to salt marshes.

The rock here is very obviously sandstone, and in places has collapsed quite dramatically

and been eroded into odd shapes that look as if they’ve been artificially extruded from some giant tube.

In places it was very clear that we were right beside a river

(we were glad to find a diversion round that!). The river debouched into an inlet and we climbed a little, which gave us a nice view over the scene.

The sun even came out (we’d been lucky in that only a few drops of rain had fallen on us thus far).

And we came across the first evidence of civilisation on today’s section of the trail as we reached Addaia.

Our interactive map mentioned a cafe on our path, and we’d been quietly looking forward to a coffee and/or a beer, even though we weren’t too far from our eventual destination. Sadly, it wasn’t open. We think that’s because we were too early – it was around 1045 at this point and 1100 seemed to be the popular opening time in those parts. Serves us right for starting too early, I guess.

So, perforce, we pressed on. The official Cami route from Addaia to Arenal is entirely on paved roads and is only about 3km. Our booklet suggested a “hiker’s diversion” and the map showed a path that veered from the road towards the coast before rejoining the official Cami on the outskirts of Arenal. We decided to try this, and so ended up blundering about looking for a path in some very random scrub.

We did make it to the coast

but the path that led us back towards Arenal suddenly vanished beside a wall, so we scrambled about in a very undignified fashion trying to find a way through the scrub, and, to our credit, managed to find a way through, though a machete would have been a handy tool to have at our disposal. And so we rejoined the main Cami and got to Arenal, which is a significant town with a significant beach and a significant tourist presence to match.

We passed our overnight accommodation, the White Sands Beach Club, on our way to the official end of today’s stage. Having completed the stage, we took a sneak peek at the start of tomorrow’s walk

before retracing our steps the short distance to the White Sands.

We had something of a frisson of apprehension when the nice Dutch lady on the reception of this frankly enormous resort disclaimed all knowledge of Jane, me or Fred Holidays. It turned out that there had been some confusion in bookings and Jane’s name had been included with someone called Charlotte Hayward. Well, I hope that’s the story, otherwise Jane and I Need To Have A Conversation About This. The frisson nearly went away when the names thing had been sorted out, but then returned as it transpired that check-in time was 4pm and it was barely one o’clock at this stage – another penalty accruing from an early start. But Hiske, the receptionist, was very helpful and sorted us out a room that was immediately available, much to our relief. And the room turned out to be a suite; I have no idea where it stands in hierarchy of luxury here, but it suited us very well, with lots of room for everything and – bliss! – a kettle. With some handy little milk containers in the fridge we were able to make a Nice Cup Of Tea, which was wonderful.

We were also able to shower and change, and eventually headed out in search of lunch and a supermarket, the latter necessary because our accommodation is room-only, so we have to forage for our own breakfast. As we stumbled about trying to read Google Maps in bright sunshine to locate the supermarket, Jane spotted a restaurant called the Good Bridge Cafe, which looked to have a terrace with a great view. It was also just by a supermarket, and I notice that it’s rated #2 among restaurants in Arenal on Tripadvisor, so it was a nice piece of serendipity that took us there. After a good lunch and a couple of drinks we felt sufficiently restored to risk a trip to the supermarket, and thence back to our room for a siesta.

And that brings you up to date so far. We shall feast tonight on the ham and bread that we bought in the supermarket, and tomorrow on the bread and banana that we also bought, supplemented by copious supplies of Earl Grey tea with supermarket milk. We drain the cup of life to its dregs, we really do.

Before I go, here are the stats of the day:

  • Mileage covered – 9.62 (Garmin), 8.6 (OutdoorActive)
  • Vertical ascent 187m (Garmin – I don’t trust OutdoorActive on this)

Tomorrow’s part of the trail is going, if the booklet is to be believed, to be a little easier than today’s; and once again the trail ends at our planned accommodation; so the day will be our oyster. Thank you for reading this far; and do come back tomorrow to see how we got on?

* I thought this was quite a witty title until it got an Old-Fashioned Look from the distaff side. I explained that it is a pun on an early Pink Floyd song, “Arnold Lane”. It didn’t seem to go down that well, so I thought an explanation here might help. On the other hand, having to explain a joke rather ruins it. However pathetic, it’s the best I can do.

Day 2 – Cami-panile: High Tower

Cami-flage Day 2Saturday 12th September 2020

Review of the after-effects of Day 1 revealed no serious injuries from 13 miles’ walking beyond some soreness in Jane’s little toes. She therefore decided to do today’s walk – only some 9 miles – in sandals. Well, Tevas, actually, but they look like sandals to me.

That decision taken, we had to check on the weather comparison between Surrey and Menorca.

From a walking point of view, actually, Surrey wins; those Menorcan temperatures are more suited to sitting in a shady bar with a glass of something cold. An attractive proposition, yes, but not in line with our mission statement.

Here’s what today’s walk looks like.

As you can see, it takes in two hills, Leith and Holmbury. So, off we drove to the start point, Friday Street in the Surrey Hills. At this point it became clear that a combination of lockdown and retirement meant that we’d lost track of the days. Today is a Saturday, which means nothing particular to us; but to normal people, it’s a weekend in a phase where Covid life is beginning to show signs of normality. So there was quite a difference in the state of the car park for yesterday’s walk

and today’s.

We were, frankly, lucky to find a space. But we did, and set off down the hill in the general direction of Friday Street. There’s a pond

and, very soon after, a pub called the Stephan Langton,

which had been my plan A for a post-constitutional Lunch until I discovered, in the research phase of this exercise, that it was no longer open. Judging by the number of people picnicking nearby, I’d guess that a few of them had had that plan A but hadn’t done their homework.

Given that we’re almost exclusively walking in Surrey, the basic scenery is going to be similar from one day to the next, so I’ll spare you too many photos of woodland, tracks and heaths. But every so often there’s a striking scene, such as these bonkers beech trees (as opposed to conkers chestnuts, ho ho)

and noteworthy buildings, which really are restful on the eye as one passes.

Actually, some of the trails are really rather striking, too, so I will share the occasional one, such as this.

Our first landmark on this route was the High Tower mentioned in my rather tortuous title, the tower at the top of Leith Hill, the highest point in Surrey at 294 m (965 ft) above sea level. Unsurprisingly, then, the path led upwards and upwards. At one point, although we were (a) following instructions from Fancy-Free Walks and (b) retracing a track we’d walked before, we managed to stray, as you can see from the green line showing quite clearly that we’d missed our way.

It didn’t matter – frankly if you keep going uphill in these parts, you’re bound to reach the right place; and actually it was a rather fetching little track we found. Eventually we reached the tower.

It became clear that (a) many other people had had the same idea as us (no surprise, as this is a hugely popular weekend spot) and (b) the little cafe in the base of the tower was open (this was a surprise, as we’d thought that the pandemic would have scuppered That Sort Of Thing, but we’d clearly underestimated the National Trust’s competitive nature). Socially-distanced queuing, of course.

So we were able to do two important things: firstly, have tea and cake (tea of a much better quality than anything we could have expected in The Foreign);

and secondly to take a picture of our Xoriguer gin bottle.

My original thought had been to make the tower a lunch stop, but since I was sure it would be closed we had to declare an emergency tea break to justify sitting down and taking in the lovely views.

If you look carefully, you can see bits of London, like the arch over Wembley Stadium.

No, really – it is there.

From a photographic standpoint, this is the first time I missed having a Proper Camera with a Proper Lens about my person. The phone has done remarkably well, all things considered, but a camera with a decent optical zoom would be better. So I’ll possibly take one on future outings.

Tea and cake having been satisfactorily demolished, we went on our merry way, along the Greensand Way which passes through these parts. As you can see, we only missed our way the once.

We then headed down and down until we caught sight of the next part of the route – the walk up Holmbury Hill, seen in the background here.

The first part of the climb is really very steep indeed.

It’s very difficult to convey in a photograph quite how steep it is. You’ll just have to believe me. But we scrambled up it and made our way to the top of this climb. The route offered a choice – continue to the top of the hill, or head down to the village. For some reason, we carried on up, but before we carried on I made it clear that the recompense for this was to stop at the village pub for some refreshment.

So we made it to the top, where we enjoyed the lovely view…

… as did our gin bottle.

And then we headed down into the very attractive village of Holmbury St. Mary, which was a sort of Victorian experimental creation – see the history part of this description. It’s a fetching place.

with a large church

and, importantly, a pub, the Royal Oak (which brews its own beer, called Felday, the original name of the village). Part of my research had been to establish that it would be open as we passed.

Suitably fortified, we carried on through the agreeable village on to an agreeable track which headed back to the car past some very attractive brickwork.

And thus ended today’s walk, at 9.03 miles just a bit longer than the Menorcan equivalent stage. The weather had been perfect – sunshine, around 20 degrees C – and the walk had been very pleasant. More to the point, we were unscathed and so should be able to take on tomorrow’s more modest challenge – a 6-mile walk, which we’ll do on paths around where we live so that we can go off for lunch with friends afterwards. It’s a lovely walk, around Chobham Common, so I hope you’ll come back and Read All About It tomorrow. Bye for now….