After working at sea, I find the best way to ground myself back onto dry land is with a decent walk. And I don’t just mean a round trip from Palma Port to Castle Bellver! I want to sling on the backpack, don the walking boots and get out into the wilds.
Mallorca is blessed with hundreds of kilometres of walking trails in the stunning Tramuntana mountain range. The GR221, known as the Ruta de Pedra Sec (Dry Stone Route), links several trails to form a potential 8-9 day hike from Port d’Andratx to Pollença.
We chose to walk the middle 4 day section from Valdemossa to Lluc. Here’s a quick guide if you fancy following in our footsteps.
Day 1 - Valdemossa to Deia
An easy bus ride from Palma to Valdemossa takes you straight to the trail. This section of the path isn’t that well signposted, but it’s easy to navigate with a good guide book/map. The first hour or so is a wooded ascent, with your efforts rewarded with great vistas towards Palma and Randa. A little further up and path levels out; the terrain becomes more rugged with wild rosemary and lavender tucked in between the rocks. More breath-taking views are ahead towards Mallorca’s highest peaks, The Puig Major and the Puig de Massenella.
A line of cairns lead the descent down towards Deia, snaking through olive terraces. It’s easy to miss the path at times – watch out for lines of rocks or branches laid across the paths not to take.
Highlight: Amazing views from the top, in all directions!
Lowlight: The descent into Deia is steep so take walking poles to save your knees
Keep an eye out for: The majestic and endangered Black Vulture, often seen soaring the heights above Deia.
Accommodation: The excellent Refugi C’an Boi has to be the best deal on the island: for 26 Euros you get a bunk bed, sheets, a hearty dinner and breakfast – all in the heart of Mallorca’s most exclusive village. Just be aware that there’s curfew of 10.15 – so don’t expect a big night out on the town!
Day 2 – Deia to Refugi Muleta (near to Port de Soller)
A comparatively gentle and short day, so there’s time to check out Deia village or visit Robert Graves’ house before setting out. The path runs mostly parallel to the coastal road, past terraced olive groves, carob trees and citrus groves. There’s the option to take a detour to Cala Deia if you're tempted by a dip in the sea.
Nearing the end of this section, you can take paths to Soller and Port de Soller if you feel the need for a hotel room for the night. We opted for the great value Refugi Muleta with it’s first-class location on top of the cliffs next to the lighthouse – a perfect place to enjoy a celebratory beer (or do a bit of yoga) whilst watching the sun set over the Med.
Highlight: An easy day so plenty of time to enjoy the views, take breaks, and to discuss the meaning of life and other juicy topics with your walking buddy!
Lowlight: We found this to be the busiest part of the trail.
Top tip: Stock up on yummy picnic items from the excellent village shop in Deia.
Accommodation: Refugi Muleta was built as a telegraph station, and has now been converted to provide simple lodging with a large 30 person dormitory. 26 Euros for a bunk bed, sheets and half board.
Day 3 –Refugi Muleta (or Soller) to Cuber reservoir
Today we will mostly be going…. up. Have you ever been to Soller, looked up at the mountains and wondered what was up there? Well now’s your chance. The path ascends some 800m past Biniarex and zigzags up through olive terraces and through a gorge. The glorious views back towards Soller provide ample distraction from the effort of the ascent, until Coll De L’Ofre is reached.
Views towards the Cuber reservoir reveal a stunning valley akin to the Alps. It’s an easy amble along the edge of the reservoir to the car park and road where onward travel is available.
Highlight: Set out in the morning and you’ll be in cool shade for most of the ascent up the mountain.
Lowlight: The only accommodation option is Refugi Tossal Verds, and at the time of writing it has been closed for refurbishment for many months. So walkers are left with the options of taking a bus/taxi from the Cuber Reservoir onward to Lluc or back to Soller, and returning to the trail by bus/taxi the next day
Top tip: If your legs are feeling tired, or if you feel like a morning dip, start by walking straight to Port de Soller, then take a bus to Soller.
Accommodation: We took the bus to Lluc to stay at the well-run monastery. It’s slightly more pricey than nearby Refugi Son Amer at around 45 euros half board per person, but for that we had our own en-suite room between the 3 of us.
Day 4 – Cuber Reservoir to Lluc
Today the walk continues on the GR221 – but without the diversion from/to the (currently closed) Tossal Verds refuge. Leaving the Cuber Reservoir, the path is an easy traverse alongside a water channel and there are fine views toward the Gorg Blau reservoir. Water can be refilled at the Font des Prat. The path now undulates through holm oaks woods dotted with wild mushrooms. As you climb out of the woods, the terrain becomes more sparse, and the colours more vibrant. The way is lined with pink wild heather and the native carritx, a pampas like grass. Further up, pretty lilac crocus flowers can also be seen. The photo opportunities increase with every bend of the ascent, with the Puig Massenella on the right and the southern Tramuntunas behind you.
Eventually the pass Coll Des Prats is reached: a superb spot to enjoy your sarnies and take in the amazing vistas. The path stays high for another half an hour or so, before descending into Lluc. A bus connects Lluc with Inca and Palma.
Highlight: This section of the walk feels the most remote and there’s a great sense of really being in the middle of the mountains.
Lowlight: To start the walk you’ll need to get to return to Cuber reservoir. There is no bus on a Sunday; a taxi from Lluc will cost around €30.
Impress your friends: by pointing out ‘sitges’, the round flat mossy areas where ‘Carboners’ use to make charcoal; and the deep stone-walled pits which stored snow collected in winter for the summer months.
When to do it: Avoid the hottest months unless you’re a masochist; the temperature is perfect in autumn or spring.
What to take: Good boots, wet weather gear just in case, sun screen, ear plugs and a guide book/map.
Make sure to: Book the refuges in advance - some need to be booked at least 5 days before.
Find out more: on the Consell de Mallorca website. (Be aware that it doesn’t include the Valdemossa to Deia section). I recommend the guide book ‘Trekking Through Mallorca’ published by Cicerone – also available to buy as a PDF on their website.