"I applied for a job in finance and got sent off to a finca!" Well, almost, but clearly Cherie Marais who handles all things to do with money matters for Tracks and Trails was not expecting she would also have to hike with our guests. We thought it a splendid idea for her to join one of our groups to see the 'other side' of the business.
Had you visited Mallorca before?
"I was there when the children were young, but that was 20 years ago. It was great to get back to the island, which is really lovely, and to do it through an active holiday. There are many old fincas in the hills, which are just old farmhouses, and the history feels close to the surface. I was, however, quite apprehensive as I wasn't sure if I would be fit enough as these days my hikes are a morning dog walk, and that's about it. All on flat terrain, about 5 km per day and with only the dog to observe my efforts. Mallorca definitely has a flip side that is not about clubs, and pubs and beer. The island, as I soon realised, has amazing ancient hiking trails that have their own stories to tell"
HOW MUCH HIKING HAVE YOU DONE?
"Well, before the kids were born, and when I was a youngster at home in South Africa, we would often do hikes of between 5-7 days, and carry all our own food and kit, but that was a long time ago. I do remember though that the backpacks were around 17 kilos, so pretty heavy. It's easy to lose confidence in your ability when you haven't been hiking in the mountains for a very long time, but I got lots of help and tips from our Guide, Sarah, and that really helped. The group overall were super supportive of each other and the social aspect was great."
Enjoying the ancient mountain trails of Mallorca
What was the hiking like?
"Mallorca was stunning, blue seas, and blue skies, big cliffs, and blossom in the orchards. The trails were so ancient you could feel the history! But it wasn't a push over you had to work for your views and you need good walking shoes or boots as the paths are rocky. Many have been created by the shepherds in the past. The day I enjoyed the most was the first hiking day when we eased into the trip with a coastal hike to Cala Tuent."
Mirador de ses Barques to Cala Tuent
Walk one of Mallorca’s classic trails along the coastline of Sa Costera. Finish at Cala Tuent for a swim and refreshments before catching the boat back to Port de Sóller. We take a short taxi transfer from Port de Soller to the start of today's walk, the viewpoint known as Mirador de ses Barques, 400m. The route is a well developed coastal path with one steep short incline that leads us towards the wild and rugged northern coastline that is interspersed all along with bays and capes offering beautiful open seascapes. Initially on wide cart tracks, our path descends through a farmstead into the valley to an old defence tower at Balitx d'Avall. We then regain height surrounded by orange plantations to reach Coll de Biniamar, 365m. Our linear walk finishes at a beautiful swimming bay where there is a restaurant for refreshments. To return to Port de Soller we will use the local taxi boat which is wonderful way to reach our accommodation and to end the day.
"The other great day was the third hiking day when we had quite a challenging day as we headed to the Monastery at Lluc. I was actually there about 20 years earlier with the children, and it was lovely to spend the night in the Monastery itself. It is so tranquil and calm, a real haven."
Puig des Tossals Verds to Lluc Monastery
This morning we say farewell to Port de Soller as we taxi back up to the Cúber reservoir, the same starting point as yesterday but instead walk east and in terms of duration, this is our longest day. Our luggage will be taken on to the Lluc Monastery our destination for today. The Monastery of Lluc has long been considered the spiritual heart of Mallorca, and the perfect location to learn about the history and culture of the island and its people.Walk the pilgrims trail on the long distance GR221 trail to reach the monastery completing a full traverse from Sóller to Lluc. Leaving the Cúber reservoir, at the foot of the steeply rising north face of the Puig Massanella the route ascends through a delightful high valley to reach the highest pass on Mallorca before descending through ancient forests to reach the doors of the Lluc Monastery.
What was it like joining a group you had never met?
"Oh, it was smashing! Everyone was very friendly and we had plenty of laughs. I couldn't believe that it turned out that one of the group lives just down the road from me in England, and another one of the group used to work with my husband. Talk about a small world! We hit it off, no problem. This trip was for a group of Nordic Walkers whom I know have booked with you for more than 10 years, and of the group of 7 most were regular Nordic Walkers, and the others were novices so I fitted ok."
What's this all about then? Samantha, one of the group, walking through history in Mallorca
"We spent three nights in Port de Sóller by the beach and at the end of each day of hiking there were a gang of us who went swimming. It was heaven! What a way to end the day. We did get caught out in a thunder storm one afternoon had ran from the sea straight into Reception soaking wet and dripping all over the place. We were a little worried about what the storm was doing, and decided to evacuate!"
Do you think Mallorca has an image problem?
"If you mean of being a party island of bars and beaches? Well, to be honest it is really beautiful and I suspect that not everyone would think of Mallorca as a destination for hiking, but that's the surprise, because it has wonderful hikes, and a wild feeling. Even when we stayed in Port de Soller, a town on the beach, there were no signs of rowdy bars, or behaviour, and I think Mallorca has a bit more class than its given credit for. It certainly has stunning hiking and a great climate, and plenty of history. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you don't get that accolade without earning it."
A parting thought
"It's given me the confidence to realise 'I can do this!' and I came home to the UK inspired to take up Nordic Walking and to into the outdoors more. Overall, a great experience which got me out of the T&T Office and into the hills and perhaps most of all I realised the effort that goes into organising the T&T trips and the role of the guide, and how it all fits together. Impressed to say the least!".