Dry Stone Route, GR221 Pt 2

GR221 Dry Stone Route Mallorca HikingToday we continue our hike along Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route (GR221). In our last post we covered the first three stages of this walk from Port d’Andratx to Esporles. The complete route spans from Port d’Andratx in the SW of Mallorca up to Pollensa in the NE and realistically is a hike you would need to take over several days. There are several hostels or Refugis at various stages along the way, charging a very reasonable price for bed and breakfast, and usually typically Mallorquin meals (if you don’t fancy hostel accommodation there are plenty of really nice hotels to choose from too…)

Today we’ll walk sections 4 to 6:

Stage 4 Esporles through Valldemossa to Deia and Can Boi refuge

Stage 5 Deia to the Muleta refuge and the Port of Sóller

Stage 6 Sóller through the Barranc de Biniaraix to the Cúber lake, and finishing at Tossals Verds refuge

As mentioned in our previous post, there are still some issues with rights of way and some poorly marked areas (and sometimes no way-marks at all!) in the early stages of this long distance walk. We’ve flagged up some of the problematic areas and we’ll update these posts when things improve. Section 4, our starting point for this post, also has a few problems…

Dry Stone Route Stage 4 map

Section Four stretches from Esporles through Valldemossa and on to Deia. This is beautiful countryside and involves a challenging hike of about 6 hours and a spectacular descent into Deia. It’s best you have some walking experience to complete this section. There is partial signposting, but no right of way issues.

Can Boi Refugi Mallorca HikingAs well as the three beautiful villages of Esporles, Valldemossa and Deia, you will also pass historic charcoal burning sites, bread ovens, and aged olive groves. You’ll need a good route guide for this section, as there are some fairly overgrown areas that can be misleading. Your destination is the mountain refuge of Can Boi in Deia. This hostel was opened in 2006 and has 32 beds laid out in dormitories.

Section Five runs from the fabulous village of Deià to the port of Sóller and the mountain hostel of Muleta. This is an easy hike of about 3 hours and it is fully way-marked. It is a delightful old Moorish footpath from the 10th century and has been restored in a number of sections. But before you leave Deià, be sure to have a good stroll around – it’s an enchanting village.

Port Soller to Cap GrosAlong this stretch of the GR221 you’ll enjoy walking through olive grove terraces, and you’ll see pretty country houses and the superb protected estate house of Muleta Gran. Other things to explore include the small 17th century chapel of Castelló and the lighthouse of cap Gros built in the 19th century, from which you get great views of the Port of Soller. It’s also worth a little diversion from the GR221 to visit the defence tower of Sa Pedrissa, a building dating back to the 17th century. You could also treat yourself to a gourmet meal at the famous Bens d’Avell restaurant…

Tossals Verd lodge Mallorca HikingOur final stage for this post – Section Six moves inland into the region of Escorxa via a steep uphill climb. This section should take around 8 hours and has some quite difficult sections – reaching heights of up to 1000m. From the Muleta refuge you pass through the beautiful valley of Sóller up to the Cúber through the ravine of Biniaraix (declared a Cultural point of interest in 1994 for its dry-stone heritage value) and on to Tossals Verds – views from here stretch down to the bay of Palma. Don’t forget to watch out for birds of prey when you’re in the Cuber and Tossals areas – these are excellent spots for seeing them.

Make sure you take some time to appreciate some of the lovely historic buildings in Sóller, and stop for a freshly squeezed orange juice in the picturesque village of Biniaraix.  You’ll also see orchards of citrus trees laden with fruit, olive groves, impressive estate houses, country cottages and casitas, an incredible water-channelling systems (fountains, washing places, channels, troughs, water mills…) including a complete modular concrete channel linking the lakes of Cuber and Gorg Blau. You will also notice the changing plant life as you enter into the mountainous area of the Serra Tramuntana – a whole new world of island flora will unfold before your eyes. It’s also not unusual to see cows wandering free around the lakes and woods, as well as groups of mountain goats and sheep.  Many varieties of birds also nest and flourish in this area including the impressive  soaring birds of prey.

The mountain hostel of Tossals Verds is your destination at the end of this section, and it will be a welcome sight after a long walk and a steep climb. This hostel has been open since 1995 and is roughly equidistant between Soller and Lluc. If you want to stay at the refuge you must reserve your bed in advance.

Here we will rest until our next post completing the final two sections and our destination, Pollensa. We have covered the equivalent of approximately 18 hours walking here, so it’s time to rest here – until the next time…

Dry Stone Route, GR221 Pt 1

GR221 Dry Stone Route with Mallorca HikingToday we continue our description of Mallorca’s Dry Stone Route, which connects the SW of the island at Port Andratx to the NE at Pollensa. We’ll cover the early stages in this post and also let you know which sections are currently not open or are under construction.

The Dry Stone Route or GR221 has eight distinct stages, each with it’s own designated Refuge (not all of which are completed yet). The route passes through the Tramuntana mountains, crossing the island from west to east.

This well-known long-distance path was created by combining many routes, some dating back to the Arab occupation of Mallorca from around 900 AD. These ancient paths had many uses: connections between villages; commercial routes for bringing products to markets; entrances to watch towers to protect against pirates; access to the mountains for the charcoal and lime burners deep in the forests, the snow makers…

Many of these paths suffered significantly over the last sixty-odd years, mainly through erosion and neglect as a result of a change of use of the land, from farming to tourism. Recently however, there have been many initiatives to restore sections of the route, and a considerable amount has been invested in new signage and way-marking. Other problems that have arisen involve rights of access through private land, and although there have been efforts to resolve these amicably between the Consell of Mallorca and the landowners, there has been little success to date. The next stage is to resort to European law to resolve these rights of public access.

The eight sections of the walk are:

Stage 1 Port d’Andratx-la Trapa Stage 2 La Trapa-Estellencs Stage 3 Estellencs-Esporles

Stage 4 Esporles-Can Boi, Deia   Stage 5 Can Boi-Muleta, Port of Soller Stage 6 Muleta-Tossals Verds

Stage 7 Tossals Verds-Son Amer, Lluc Stage 8 Son Amer-Pollença

Since the end of 2010 the Dry Stone Route has been well way-marked from Deià to Pollença with 5 mountain “refuges” also functioning and looking after grateful walkers. In the southern section of the route Coll des Pi; Estellencs; Banyalbufar; Esporles and Coll de sa Basseta are also way-marked.

Let’s clarify in a little more detail now, exactly which sections are open and accessible, and which provide full way-marking. We don’t want you disappearing into the Mallorcan wilderness – although of course another option would be to use the services of a guide with Mallorca Hiking to make sure you stay on the right track!

In this post we will focus on stages 1 to 3: Port d’Andratx to Esporles. These first sections are a bit problematic – they are not well marked – if at all – and several sections cross private property, the rights for some of which are disputed, so the route has been diverted.

Monastry at Sa Trapa Mallorca HikingStage 1:   The first part of the route from Port Andratx is not very well marked but it is accessible. There are restoration works currently underway at the old monastery of La Trapa to create a mountain refuge.

Coll de Sa Gremola Walking Mallorca

Stage 2:   Between La Trapa and Coll de sa Gramola there is no way-marking. Again the route covers private property, but access is permitted.

From Coll de sa Gramola to Coma d’en Vidal, there are again no way-marks. The route here follows the Andratx- Estellencs (Ma-10) to the Pla de s’Evangèlica. The trail then crosses the mountainous area of S’Esclop to Coma d’en Vidal where there are plans to construct a further refuge.

Watch Tower Estellencs Walking MallorcaStage 3: From Coma d’en Vidal to Estellencs, again there are no way-marks. However, there is good news from Estellencs through Banyalbufar to Esporles – this section is fully way-marked. When the trail reaches Es Rafal, between Estellencs and Banyalbufar (a disputed right of way) it has been diverted.

There are no confirmed dates as to when signage will be completed for the sections without (as described above) – so if you are not a confident route-finder we advise you to walk this section with a guide.

To give you a flavour of the scenery and surroundings for these first sections of the Dry Stone Route – the first official walk for our new resident’s Mallorca Hiking Club recently completed the Old Postman’s Route. This runs between Esporles and Bunyalbufar, which makes up part of the third stage of the GR221. You can see lots of photographs from members on our Facebook Page. And there is also a superb short video on our YouTube Channel.

This is a beautiful part of the island and hopefully the full route will be clearly marked soon to allow the complete trek from one end of the island to the other.  Next week we’ll cover the area between stages 4 to 6 – in the meantime happy hiking!