Camí de Cavalls: The North, Stages 1 – 10

Day 1 14/4/22 Thursday

After a hearty fry-up we set off for Alicante airport for a quick dash over the Mediterranean to Menorca.

Prior to starting the walk we had one quick but vital task, to purchase camping gas. After the most expensive two minute bus journey of our lives we were hoofed out into an industrial estate on the outskirts of Máo where we bought the last canister on the whole island – or so we were told in Decathlon!

Instead of waiting an hour for the next (same) bus to pick us up we walked into town, what’s an extra 4k when you are about to do 185! We dumped our bags in the hotel that we would return to in 9 days, filled our water bottles and set off to find the nearest dash of red and white paint which would mark both the start and end (hopefully) of our adventure on the GR 223 otherwise known as the Camí de Cavalls.

The walk out of Máo was full of hope and trepidation as to what the next days would bring. We quickly fell into a rhythm, not counting the numerous stops to adjust Cristina´s bag, and were soon out of the capital.

As the night began to close in we turned off the last road we would see for days onto an undulating path following the north-east section of the coastline. At this stage we started what would later become the arduous task of finding a spot to pitch the tent.

Within the first 30 minutes of arriving in Menorca we had been advised by at least three different people that camping was not permitted, which made these moments difficult as we had to find a spot that was both suitable for the tent but more importantly hidden. This was much harder than it sounds and therefore having not seen anyone else for hours we thought sod it and pitched the tent next to a wall in the middle of the path – at least it was flat!

Fed and clean, we bedded down for our first night under the stars between Sa Mesquida and Es Grau. Bring on tomorrow when the real walking starts, only 175km to go!


Day 2 15/4/22 Friday

It was only when I woke up on my bed of assorted Menorcan rocks that Cristina confessed that she may not have closed the valve correctly after inflating my mattress, to be honest I had already had my suspicions! It didn’t matter, the sunrise was beautiful and after our first breakfast on the trail of porridge and coffee we broke camp and made off for Es Grau.

The path did not go directly through the village but it was worth the detour for a fantastic toast of sobrasada and my first ensaimada – delicious! After paying up I was ordered to the outdoor tap where I was allowed the great privilege of filling our water bottles next to the dog bowl, and off we went. We had not realised at the time but this would be our longest day – 37km.

As we entered the first of many Parque Naturales, we got our first glimpse of the stunning coves that the island is famous for. The only thing slowing our progress was the constant stream of lycra clad cyclists who appeared incapable of completing more than 200m without resisting the urge of unclipping their pedals and hopping off to chat…in the middle of the path!

We stopped well after midday in Arenal d’en Castell for another toast topped with sobrasada. After refilling the bottles we stocked up on Menorcan cheese and fresh cold cuts of pork and resisted the urge to buy a bottle of wine! The climb out of town was brutal and immediately followed by a humid coastal forest where we started to look for a place to pitch the tent. Private property followed by thick gnarly undergrowth meant that this task was again proving to be very difficult until we stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient basilica. It would have to do.

We celebrated the completion of our first full day with another evening meal of noodles and then off to bed – exhausted.

Day 3 16/4/22 Saturday

Saturday brought a somewhat sluggish start, in part due to the previous day’s exertions. We eventually made our way to Platja de Fornells where we had been assured, on more than one occasion, that we would find the last supermarket prior to embarking on the hardest part of the whole Camí. An almost virgin stretch of coastline with no access to services or freshwater for at least 40km.

As I am sure you have already guessed, the supermarket was closed! Fortuitously we noticed movement in the adjoining Estate Agents and after banging on the door the owner let us in and we filled our bottles from the bathroom tap. A veritable upgrade on yesterday’s dog bowl!

After traversing Cala Tirant we noticed a strange structure carved into the cliff to the north. It was at this point, as we settled into what seemed to be a bunker dating back to the civil war period, I ruminated on a thought I had held for some time. It normally takes the average urban dweller roughly two days on the road to turn savage and as I watched Cristina frantically hunt bígaros (sea snails) I knew I was correct. I cooked them, as instructed.

The next part of the walk takes you inland and when we rejoined the coast we were faced head on with the most stunning beach so far, Platja de Cavalleria. Two golden sandy bays that really do take your breath away, but there was no time to stop. After around 20km we were nearing the halfway section of this stage and decided to rest in the shade of the pockmarked cliffs of Platja de Binimel-la. Life has often taught me that pride comes before a fall, and today was to be no different. We were no savages and as I watched Cristina eject the contents of her stomach I realised we still had a lot to learn about this simple life on the road. We were worried. This was the most isolated point of the whole walk and she was in a very bad way. Could bígaros kill someone? Google said no, we were not so sure.

After what seemed like hours of deliberation, amongst other activities (sorry Cristina), we decided we had no choice but to press on. If she became worse we wanted to be closer to civilization. We climbed the steep path out of the beach, the shear exertion alone enough to make the fainthearted struggle on a normal day. On reaching the top we realised just how hard the next few hours would be, Cristina having fertilised nearly every bush on the slope!

The path then proceeded to undulate onto the cliff tops before dropping into bay after spectacular bay for the next hour or so. Following the most difficult climb of them all we stumbled down into Cala en Calderer where we hoped to camp. Something did not feel right, perhaps it was our delirious state or more likely the dilapidated shepherd’s hut that reminded us of a low budget horror film. So we carried on.

I am still amazed at how she did it!

Finally as the sun was setting we dropped into Cala ets Alocs and decided enough was enough. We pitched the tent, Cristina still unable to eat, and collapsed into our deepest sleep so far.

Day 4 17/4/22 Sunday

Remarkably, after the events of yesterday, Cristina managed to eat five spoonfuls of porridge. As I packed up the camping gear she set off alone to start the long climb out of the cala in search of the first rays of the rising sun. We wanted to get the ascent out of the way before it got too warm as we were running low on water and still had another 10km before our next chance to top up in Cala Morell.

The climb was worth it as we exited the coastline and moved inland through forest and rolling hills of wild meadows full of vibrant yellows and purples. Spring is definitely an ideal time to visit the island. Alas it wasn’t to last and as we rejoined the coast we encountered the most difficult terrain of the route so far. Razor sharp stones that made every step a battle and slowed our progress down despite the relatively flat nature of the landscape.

Finally in Cala Morell we could top up the water and rehydrate after what had been a gruelling two days, especially for Cristina. Needless to say the shops were closed. However, by this point we had no qualms about asking and found ourselves filling our bottles from yet another tap due to the kindness of a stranger. She offered us bottled water, and we soon found out why!

We left town, again after another long climb, and headed out to the northwestern point of the island where we caught our first glimpses of Mallorca. There is something profound about getting your first glimpse of new land over a vast expanse of water, this was no different.

Ahead of schedule we decided to stop in the early evening and took shelter under a tarp as we watched the sun go down, We were only two hours away from Ciutadella now and more importantly our first shower for five days!

Day 5 18/4/22 Monday

Monday marked our easiest day on the trail, a short two hour hike into Ciutadella and the relative comfort of civilization.

Apart from the arch at Pont d’en Gil, the walk was relatively unremarkable. The majority of the path passed through a largely abandoned ‘Little Britain’ full of derelict buildings and closed businesses. Perhaps another symptom of the pandemic or more likely the fickle nature of tourists, as certain destinations are no longer in vogue.

We had some time to kill before checking in to the hotel so we treated ourselves to a second breakfast and the first meal that had not been cooked on a camp stove since day 2. It was strange to be surrounded by so many people again.

Shortly after 12:00 we arrived at the hotel where I stopped the GPS for the first time in five days. We had walked 115.5km and completed the northern section of the island. It certainly had not been easy but we had enjoyed every step… It was time for a shower and a well earned bed!

2 thoughts on “Camí de Cavalls: The North, Stages 1 – 10”

Leave a Comment