Ascending through the steeply terraced olive groves we couldn’t help looking back again and again at the magnificent vistas – back down the thickly wooded valley and across to the mountains. My hiking holidays in the Mallorca mountains were off to a great start!
This perennially popular Balearic island is better known for its beach resorts but in the shoulder season a mild climate, cheap flights and hire cars add up to a perfect destination for breaking out the walking boots and heading for the hills of the Sierra Tramuntana (a newly-named Unesco World Heritage Site).
Mallorca is surprisingly green, mainly because of the many evergreen trees, and particularly after the autumn rains have washed everything clean and the fresh new grass has sprung up in the fig and olive orchards. But it was the Tramuntana mountains we had come to see…
Mallorca’s Tossals Verds Circuit
This attractive and varied walk took us about four-and-a-half hours with a few little breaks and photo opportunities built in. The initial quarter of the walk is a steepish descent on a rocky track down a tree-lined gorge – a good workout for the knees and quads.
The recently updated Cicerone walking guide to Mallorca recommends a torch for the string of five tunnels to be traversed. Although our kind hosts at our Mallorca accommodation lent us a torch we didn’t end up using it as you can always see the light at the end and on a bright day there weren’t many patches the light didn’t reach.
Through the tunnels you can hear the gurgling of water in the pipeline, like some giant plumbing system of the gods.
Only-just-one got very excited about the little brown goats leaping about in the rocks above the path, sure-footed and pointy-horned. And she practised cairn building (and dismantling) with white stones while we had a drink and a snack.
After all that down the upwards road must come and when the trail meets the little mountain road its time to ascend up through ancient olive terraces, planted when the only transport would have been by burro.
The Refugi des Tossals Verds was built in 1995 – the first of a network since constructed through the Serra de Tramuntana. Here you can have a drink, a piece of cake, a good meal or even stay the night.
After the refugi we ascended again steeply through the olive groves, looking back again and again at the magnificent views across the valley to the impressive butte of Es Rafel.
Once the summit is reached its easy walking from here on in, along the ridge and through mixed oak and pine forest, eventually dropping down to meet a little canaletta that will lead you back to the car park. There are views of the Cuber reservoir, all deep turquoise below the rose gold mountain of Puig Major (Mallorca’s highest peak but sadly out of bounds to walkers as it’s a military zone).
Where to stay in Mallorca
After a day out in the Mallorca mountains it was heavenly to come home to a drink on the comfy sun loungers by the blue pool of our Mallorca Agritourismo. The late afternoon sun hit the terrace and the cypresses cast long shadows across the lawn. Only-just-one giggled swinging in the hammock.
Once she was in bed and with the baby monitor set up we went downstairs to the lounge where they have volumes of poetry, dvds and an open fire for chillier nights. In the dining room, the staff serve up a delicious four course meal prepared with the produce of the surrounding finca and complimented by a good list of mainly Mallorcan wines.
We were staying at the simply lovely Finca Es Castell, a beautiful retreat for relaxing or active holidays in Mallorca. The idyllic rural setting confirms the “agritourismo” tag but comes with an unexpected standard of luxurious accommodation within a sprawling old farmhouse complex.
Es Castell is in the Binibona national park, a collection of unspoilt villages just where rural Mallorca rises into the Tramuntana. The olive groves are thick; the distant music of animal bells is calming; and the old stone buildings are all various shades of peach.
It is run by ex-pat Englishman James and Paola, his Italian partner. The hotel is a popular base for walking holidays in the off season months. James came around the dining room every evening to chat to everyone and see how our day went.
For another evening meal we went to Es Parc, just outside Inca in Selva. This is really a restaurant with a view that serves excellent grilled meat and fish, best accompanied by a plate of grilled vegetables. The views from the terrace out across to the mountains are beautiful. This is a real find and the address is Parc Recreatiu in Selva – just follow the steps on the left of the church (Tel +34 971 515 145 +34 971 515 145).
Other walking in Mallorca options
We also managed to complete a few legs of Mallorca’s own Grand Randonee. The GR221 is known as the Drystone Trail and follows the old cobbled paths which connected villages and estates of the Serra.
I was lucky enough to preview the new Cicerone guide to the GR221, which has all the information you need to tackle this spectacular route.
Another famous walking route in Mallorca is that through the Torrent de Pareis, either descending from Escorca to Sa Calobra or vice versa. This one will have to wait for a return visit sans kids.
There are some lovely easy walks exploring the estate of the Finca Es Castell and from Caimari, the nearest village, you can pick up the pilgrimage trail to the Lluc monastery – Mallorca’s spiritual heart since 1246 and the destination of pilgrims’ footpaths from Inca and Pollenca.
There is an alternative route to Lluc, up a wild private valley but this is a much tougher proposition than the popular pilgrimage trail. So it might be worth asking James from Es Castell to guide you on this walk.
When to plan Mallorca holidays
September weather consists of sunny days and balmy evenings and is the perfect time of year to enjoy an active holiday in Mallorca.
October and November are the “wet season” for Mallorca and the island often experiences storms. However, these tend to be short-lived and we certainly had plenty of beautiful sunshine in late October. We even swam in the sea.
Hardy souls will find settled, if cooler weather over the winter; this is still quite a popular time of year for walking in Mallorca.
Then of course there’s springtime in Mallorca. From February onwards, when the almond trees are in blossom, is a good time to enjoy a sunshine walking holiday here.
Really the only time to completely avoid is the heat of summer, which is when the island and its resorts are at their busiest.
By Natasha von Geldern
More information on walking holidays in Mallorca:
The Finca Es Castell has doubles from €150 April to October and €130 in November and December.
Balearic Discovery arranges offers tailor-made trips and holidays designed for those looking for an exclusive and individual experience in Mallorca. Jane and Tony have lived here for years and have a wealth of tips to make your holiday in Mallorca special.
We hired a little car from Palma airport and found it very easy to zip around the island on the excellent road network.