Thursday, 29 March 2018

Port de Soller, Mallorca, Spain - The Archduke's Trail

I was down at Tramuntana Tours at 9:30, a little apprehensive about what I was taking on. Jeremy loaded the 5 of us into the van and we met up with 3 more in Valldemossa, where we would start the walk. An Irishman, a couple of Danes and the rest German.
We stopped at the trail map

and Jeremy described the route we would take.
We started to climb immediately
soon looking down on Valldamossa
and a little higher, down the valley and out over Palma and the central plain. We could see the airport and the cathedral.
Archduke Luis Salvador originated from Austria but spent much of his life in Mallorca in the late 19th Century, studying and documenting his love of wildlife and nature. Buying large swathes of mountainous land, the Archduke built paths that rose nearly 1000m high with spectacular views across the Tramuntana Mountains and the Mediterranean sea. (from

Periodically we stopped climbing to catch our breath (alright, that is what I had to do), have a drink of water and for Jeremy to give us some info. He spoke of the Archduke coming first to Mallorca when he was 20 to recover from the tragic death of his lover. He fell in love with the island and was concerned that the natural areas were being stripped of forest. He bought the land to preserve it and on his death (at 68), gave it to the island government to be open to the public.
Still climbing. In total we would climb more than 600 metres.
but the views were certainly worth the pounding heart and wobbly legs.
We stopped at a raised stone circle and
2 ruined buildings while Jeremy described the life of the carboneras, families who would spend their summers creating charcoal. The Archduke was concerned about the loss of trees so restricted the amount of wood that could be cut and insisted on reforestation.

We stopped for another break at
"the cave of the hermit".
Did I mention we were still climbing? Sometimes a muddy path, sometimes gravel, sometimes stone stairs, first through woodland and then
up to where there was very little foliage, just rosemary and some other low bushes.
The Archduke loved walking this high ridge, from which you can see both sides of the mountain range, so much, that he had a permanent path built, wide enough for two people to pass. Thus "The Archduke's Trail".

Taking a breather I stood and watched this boat sail around the rock (note the hole in it) and set anchor.
Jeremy promised me that this would be the last climb. 3 of the other hikers had taken turns walking at the back with me. So kind, standing with me while I got my heart rate back down and assuring me that it was good for them too, to take the time to appreciate the surroundings, not just march on, looking down as the footing was rough.
We ate our lunches at the summit, looking towards Palma
sheltered behind rocks from the cool sea breeze
with no trees to break its bite.
The descent took comparatively little time though at times it was slippery and had low hanging branches (Darren, the Irishman, hit his head enough times that we started discussing protective headgear - a helmet?, a cap with a foam pad at the front? and he declared he's been concussed since birth)
We walked past the van and into Valldemossa for a drink and then Jeremy took pity on us and went and fetched the van to pick us up and drive us back to Port, along the coast, past Daia and millionaire's row (huge villas with magnificent sea views).
I was exhausted but strangely invigorated. I had, again, found that my rapidly increased heart rate was my main impediment to this kind of walk. I was having Inca Trail flashbacks (but nowhere near as bad as that). Two of the walkers talked about climbing Kilimanjaro (one had done it) and that it wasn't as steep as what we had just done. Chris wants to do that!

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