The Dry Stone Route

Yet again I was confronted with my usual problem. One week left is not that long and therefore a destination close by was required. More by accident than intention, I discovered the European long-distance hiking trail GR221 "Ruta da la pedra en sec". The name "Ruta da la pedra en sec" means dry stone wall and that's exactly what it is all about. It is a relatively new trail that is wriggling its way straight along the north shore of Majorca. Eight stages in less than one week? Some speed trekking was required. The tent should give me the necessary flexibility, as I was not dependant on accommodation.

The start in western Majorca

Port d'Andratx
Start in Port d'Andratx
The trek starts in Port d'Andratx in the northwest of the island.

On the way from Sant Elm to La Trapa I had a fantastic view of the island of Dragonera the whole time.

The Balearic government puts genuine efforts into improving the image of the island. One of the measures is the creation of this trail, the GR221. This includes the construction of refuges for hikers. La Trapa will be the westernmost one.

The restoration has been suspended temporarily due to legal difficulties. When it is finished and can be operated, it will be a real gem in a lonely location and fantastic nature.

Due to "legal difficulties" the trail is not yet widely accessible nor well signposted. Prohibition signs leave no doubt that sections of the trail are locked by the owners.

La Trapa
What a view at La Trapa. Unfortunately, the construction work was suspended.
After La Trapa the track went on just as remote and was winding its way through the mountains and next to the sea. Now I needed to gain some altitude. Up to La Trapa I already gained 700m and needed to lift myself up another 800m to Estellencs just to go down another 900m again. The views always rewarded me though. Even the summer midday heat was quite bearable in the mountains.

Torre De Ses Animes
Torre De Ses Animes
Port des Cartonge
Idyllic campsite at Port des Cartonge
I passed through beautiful small villages, such as Estellencs and discovered evidence of the military history of the island, such as the Torre de ses Animes.

Finding a suitable campsite, in particular in the north west of the island, was no problem. There are just a few settlements and a secluded bay is never far away.
And then came the first "mega city" along the way: Valldemossa. Mega city is probably a little bit exaggerated for a village with 2,000 inhabitants, but in comparison to the small villages around it, it's huge.

Camí vell de s'Arxiduc
Equestrian path Camí vell de s'Arxiduc
On the road to Deia, I wandered along “Cami vell de s'Arxiduc”. The Archduke loved horses and riding, and had the path built. If there only had been a good psychiatrist there at that time...

After a spectacular descent, I quickly arrived in Deia, the 'artists' village of Majorca. Because it's so beautiful here, a lot of foreigners live here nowadays. The prices are accordingly high. Good that there is the well restored Refugi de Can Boi in the village. As all the tourists hung out on the beach, I was all alone in the Refugio. Life is sweet.

On the road from Deia to Port de Sóller I passed through more beautiful little villages, with terrific views of bays and long dry stone walls (at least here it becomes clear where the name of the trail derives from). Both Port de Sóller and Sóller itself, with its 20,000 inhabitants, were already too big for me and especially with the number of tourists. Therefore I passed through it quickly and headed straight towards the mountains. Before that the idyllic village Biniaraix appeared which, for whatever reason, is almost completely overlooked by tourism.

Unexpected mountains

From then on, it should got into the "real" mountains. I almost ran from the sea to the Coll de l'Ofre at 875 meters. As I had been hiking very quickly, I had time to go to the summit of L'Ofre (1,091 m) and did not regret it. Definitely a worthwhile detour, because the view is overwhelming. Now I realized how mountainous Majorca really is.

Unexpected mountains at l'Ofre
After a small break on the summit I went back to the Coll de l'Ofre and on to the beautiful Cuber lake, a perfect spot for a (forbidden) dip.

Monastir de Lluc
Monastir de Lluc
From there on, the trail continued through wild hills before I arrived at the Monastir de Lluc Monastery. During the summer the place was fine, because I was nearly alone there. From time to time a bus came by with a few tourists on board, but they already left no later than one hour afterwards and after five o'clock, I had the place all to myself. The only open restaurant was just waiting for me. After my supper they closed again immediately and overnight I had the whole monastery just for myself!

Detour to the Torrent de Pareis

I had selected the Monastery as a base for the hike through the Torrent de Pareis. A public bus passing the Monastery, goes all the way to the starting point in Sa Calobra. At the beginning of the gorge there were still a few tourists running around. But shortly after, the passage was blocked by boulders, which you had to climb to continue on. I finally was virtually alone.

Torrent de Pareis
Torrent de Pareis
Overall, the Torrent de Pareis is just 3,300m long. But the river bed is blocked with large boulders several metres big, so you have to scramble a bit.

The river, which almost dries up in the summer, winds its way inland before it forks at the torrent Gorg Blau. The torrent Gorg Blau, however, can only be followed for a few meters, as another big boulder blocks your way, unless you have the appropriate equipment.

Torrent de Pareis
Invitation at the Torrent de Pareis
Following the Torrent de Pareis it becomes the Torrent de Lluc. The name is deceptive as you can't go all the way to the monastery, but you must crawl out of the canyon. I promptly lost the cairns for orientation and finally had to do some cross country hiking.

To the eastern tip of Majorca

From the Monastir de Lluc you arrive in Pollença quickly, the official end of the GR221. Again Pollença, with its 16,000 inhabitants, is a big city. Somehow, it drew me out of the city and on to Port de Pollença, the starting point to the headland of Formentor.

Cap de Formentor
Arriving at land's end of Majorca: Cap de Formentor
But in my view there was not much there except another nice beach, so I strapped on my backpack and went on to the Cap de Formentor, the northeastern point of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.

Calafiguera, another perfect camp site

On the way back I spotted a small bay, which almost screamed that I should spend a night in a tent there. What I happily did.

What a perfect end to the trip!

In conclusion, I highly recommend the GR221 to anyone who enjoys walking. It is varied, often traditional and most of the time, rather remote.

I must admit that previously I knew of only the negative clichés of Majorca. Now I must say that Majorca has much more to offer and one being definitely the Dry Stone Route.

I am very much looking forward to your questions and comments in the guestbook.

More photos of the GR221 are available here.

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GR 221: Ruta de Pedra en Sec