Last night’s decision to go walking in Menorca Spain, around the island for 12 hours, is currently being executed. In theory, totally doable. In reality, bloody stupid.
I’m currently going through a break up, so I’m telling myself that experiencing the solitude of the Cami De Cavalls, whilst smacking myself in the face with fresh air, is going to do me good.
I’m setting myself a 12 hour task to walk from Es Grau to Fornells on the north-east of the island. That’s ridiculous. But I want to be ridiculous; coming out the other end proclaiming ‘I did that’. Challenges like this give me pleasure. Sometimes you just need to throw yourself into the crap, to relish coming out the other end.
I jump in a taxi from S’Algar. It’s a really cute and quaint part of the Menorca island, where people wile away time. Yesterday, I was lazing by the pool, where the golden oldies were doing aqua aerobics before lunch in the Port Blue San Luis hotel.
Watching these ladies comforts me. When I’m that age, everything is going to be OK. I might have a tubby tummy and loose skin around my neck, but I’ll be OK. I’ll be able to go on holidays and hang out with other cool elderly chicks, doing lunges and floppy star jumps in the water.
At breakfast beforehand, one mature gentleman comes up to me at the coffee machine and cuts right to the chase. ‘What are you doing here?’ he asks. ‘You’re young. We don’t see people like you round here’. It kind of makes me laugh…because Menorca is actually stunning and perfect for adventurous women.
Menorca is like a Tinder date you do eventually go on, but which you’re questioning beforehand, ‘Is this worth my time?’ I dislike how judgmental I was about Menorca beforehand, but this is, after all, where Brits came to get lashed in the 80’s.
What’s Menorca like? I thought Menorca was going to be rough around the edges. I should she might drink too much and have dodgy friends. Maybe those blue waters in her profile pictures were photo-shopped or taken years ago. You know…when she looked younger and better.
Turns out she’s one of those dates where you think, ‘Hell yeah. You’re absolutely beautiful and lovely and if you want to move on to second base, I’m down’.
Anyway, I’m in the taxi and I’m asking the guy to take me to Es Grau.
Es Grau is a sleepy fishing village where nature decided to have a party and the locals let her get on with it. This stretch of the Mediterranean is part of the protected S’Albufera des Grau nature reserve: greedy rich developers can’t touch this beauty. It’s perfect for bird watching in Menorca if that’s your thing.
When I arrive, this tiny community is getting into morning gear. There’s a couple of men in high vis vests directing non-existent traffic (very random), whilst fishermen load bits and bobs into their boat. I pop into the one supermarket in town to grab water for my journey, then turn right back around to get stuck into the task at hand.
It’s a calm, soothing start. The shallow waters are dancing and the sandy beach looks like my hair in the morning. It’s messy. Disorganised. Not groomed like some Menorca beaches you come across. Each grain of sand has free will.
I’m on an ancient path which many have traversed before. Estimated to have existed since 1330, the circular Cami De Cavalls is a 185km path around the whole island of Menorca. Created to defend the island, the English and French have both used this track at different points throughout time (when claiming the island as their own). The word ‘cavalls’ means ‘horses’ in Catalan, representing the steeds the soldiers rode whilst watching for pesky invaders.
They built a lot of watchtowers and fortresses along this path so they could stop off and drink tea. They also did a lot of defending from these points. Sea trading is serious business.
This coastal path has been in varying states of use throughout time. Sometimes completely overgrown, wild and engulfed by nature. Other times, pruned, slick and efficient to the highest military standard.
The locals kicked up a fuss in 1996 when Menorca’s Cami De Cavalls hadn’t had a trim in a very, very long time. She was hairy. So after a makeover Cher would be jealous of, she finally had order restored in 2010 and is now open to the public in all her natural glory. There are plenty of things to do in Menorca, but some people purposely come here to complete the whole Cami de Cavalls circuit in 7 to 10 days. I did a quarter of it in a day (I’m a twat).
Menorca has lots of hidden qualities she will happily reveal to you if you make the effort. I’m hiking up and down her curves and what she decides to show me, changes at every twist and turn. The landscape is lime-green, but then it suddenly changes to splashes of purple and seaweed-green amongst golden amber rocks.
I’m venturing through the shady pinewoods, where the sun leaps in at every opportunity the branches break. Then, the trees disappear altogether and Menorca opens up completely.
Boom! The blue sea is screaming, ‘Hellooooooo adventurer’ and one of the towers is standing there slowly crumbling and groaning, ‘I’ve been here nearly 690 years. I’m hanging in there’.
These hidden beaches in Menorca are something else. No one else is here. I like that. Secret coves made for one, except for the seagulls that will glide above you. ‘Ger-ull, ger-ull’ they screech. ‘Now I know why you’re called a seagull’, I tell them.
The environment suddenly becomes rocky and dusty, with piles of poop plopped on top. You gotta watch your step! One thud of your foot on the ground and suddenly you’re setting off a fly bomb. Ewww. I must stink or my sweat tastes good because these flies are plastered all over me. ‘Lordess of the Flies’ I am.
I’m thinking about why we broke up. Maybe it’s because I don’t want children, or I leave Britain regularly to travel. Maybe it’s because you’re baffled about me not caring what colour my new car is going to be. I just want something with 4 wheels and a decent period of MOT after my Mongol Rally car bit the dust. I think you think that’s just a tad too shabby.
Lighthouse ahead! Erected to save any more ships heading towards their imminent death on the northeast of the island in the early 1900s, this concrete twister lets you know you’re getting close to your first goalpost on this walk.
I get to this high point on the trail before the lighthouse and there’s these two golden sandy beaches right below me. I’m standing there taking photos because it looks so superb. I’m descending the stairs, getting closer and closer to the handful of other people enjoying the turquoise waters when I realise they’re all butt naked. Menorca lets you get your bits out. Good to know in case you like going natural yourself…or if you need a bit of pre-warning for this kinda stuff.
Side note: Remember to pack plasters. I’m 2.5 hours into this walk and a box of plasters would be lovely right now.
I make it to the lighthouse! I should have stopped here and I recommend you do too. You’re going to see some of the best parts of Menorca in these 3 hours. The rest of this journey anti-clockwise around the island is just for the sake of walking and working out life thoughts.
The rest of this story is how not to go walking in Menorca on the Cami De Cavalls.
The temperature in Menorca in May is rising to 20°C. I’m trawling through the midday sun through broccoli-shaped mountains on a water-deprived cracked track. All the ants are doing the hokey pokey in and out of the crevices. The way the Cami De Cavalls is set up is crystal clear. Everything is signposted (and in English too) so if you do decide to go against the island’s instructions, you’re fully aware you’re a rebel.
The thing is, my online Menorca map is telling me to go this way, not that way and this way just looks so much better with tiny speckled coves bouncing off the screen, so obviously I’m going to go this way. I swivel my feet 90 degrees to the right…
The path ahead is clear and confident. As the minutes pass however, Mother Nature begins to invade. She’s throwing in an odd branch here and there, stacking up the rocks and as I edge closer to the coast, man decided to come and build a wall here. There’s a scraggly layer of wire on top.
However, another man came along at some point in time and cut a hole in this wire. He piled some rocks up for off-roaders, complete with a couple of wooden boards for ease. So naturally I want to see what man and nature are in a tug of war about.
I hoist myself up and over, scramble through the trees and come upon a hidden treasure.
Everyone appears to have vacated years ago. The white walls of the beach structures remain but the contents are long gone. It’s just me, grains of white snow sand and serene water. I’ve just stumbled upon one of the best Menorca secluded beaches. I kick off my shoes and gently slide in, wading through the petite fishes, darting off for cover. This is contentment.
Freshly bathed with wrinkly sea-salted toes, I set off. Reassuring myself with my map of Menorca, that all I need to do is head east and get back on track, I end up 15 minutes later trapped in Mother Nature’s claws.
Various plants (whose names I’ve never exerted effort into learning) are grabbing me here and there. Up and down. I’m hopping as they swipe at my ankles. Then the rocks come in and these bloody sharp, thorny things. Invisible, grievous pincers.
I’m scrambling up and up to this wall, to what I trust is the path behind it. I reach the edge; get ready to hop over…only to find a bed of cabbages on the other side of this private property. I start rotating my head to see if an angry local is coming for me, because his cows are bawling. Next thing, I’m butt surfing on this wall without any mortar, clinging on to its nooks so I don’t go trough diving below. Should have gone to yoga class…
Once both feet are firmly planted, I question whether I’ve hit the grounds of a Menorcan cult. Mother Mary is staring at me from her birds-eye view enclave above, cut into the white walls of this sky-high estate. Eerily quiet but impressive, I steal a moment to eyeball the architecture, before racing my ass down the long and winding pothole path back to lower ground.
Turns out (from post-adventure research), I had crash-landed on the private Mongofre Nou estate and been frolicking on their secret beach (sorry not sorry). The Addaia saltpans are spectacular here and the perfect spot to enjoy the birds of Menorca (and gawp at fish the size of dogs incidentally).
If you keep going, you’ll pass through the charming, pristine town of Addaia, then through Coves Noves and Arenal d’en Castell. If you have any sense, you’ll stop here (we’re up to 8 hours of walking at this point). Or we could just keep going…
Sun worshippers are slowly turning orange whilst they lick lemon lollies and drink fizzy beer under straw umbrellas. Pizza slice smells waft through the breeze as red wine glasses clinkity clink. The hubbub slowly dissolves as I make my way up west to the cliffs and walk along the edge.
Crystal clear skies soar above and fresh lucid water laps back and forth below. Menorca is flirting with me. Yet, my feet are at the point of no return. No matter how good this date is turning out, I’m feeling like I want to go to bed with a cup of tea and an episode of Better Call Saul. ‘Just a little further’ I coax myself…
I’ve hit the next town of Son Parc. I’m wincing. Yet, determined to arrive at Cala Tirant before sundown, I step into the forest behind Arenal Son Saura. I end up despising that decision for the next 5km of forest and strawberry-tree undergrowth. ‘Left, right, left, right’. My surroundings are undoubtedly marvelous but I can’t see them because I’m looking down, focusing on moving forward. Not much else…apart from the thought that I’m an idiot.
What continues to drive me forward is the internet’s promise of being able to enjoy the Paleochristian Basilica of Cap des Port. When I finally crawl towards it, it’s that old, that there’s nothing much left of it. I narrow my eyelids together to imagine what it could have looked like.
I hate to quit. I just don’t do that in life as a solo female traveler…but when your feet are shredded and you’re looking like a miserable toad, you should bail. Making it to the main road leading to Fornells, 12 hours after I started, I’m desperate to hail a taxi. There’s none in sight. I think the Menorca buses finished hours ago. I tell myself I’ll head towards Es Mercadal and borrow a local hotel’s telephone on the way to save my ass. That hotel never turns up so I end up walking another 1.5 hours to the town.
The internet is promising me I’ll be able to get my mitts on a bar of chocolate at the local supermarket when I get there. I make it to the door and it’s just closed. Whhhhhhhy.
I’m finally rescued by a pizza joint, who call a taxi and donate a scoop of lemon sorbet to me that takes like freaking gold.
As the night sky slowly melts over the rolling hills, a little old taxi man with no English turns up to take me home through the winding roads. ‘¿A dónde quieres ir?’ he gently asks. ‘Todo recto’ I reply. ‘Sigue adelante’.
Because that’s what you must do in life. Keep going and relish the ride.
Menorca, also called Minorca, is part of the Spanish Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean sea. Its next door neighbour is Mallorca, also called Majorca (bit confusing but there we go!). South west of Mallorca you’ll find Ibiza. The closest mainland city is Barcelona.
Everything is easily signposted. Pack sunscreen, water, a hat and snacks in your backpack to keep you sane. Good walking shoes and a happy attitude are an added bonus. You can find all my favourite packing essentials in my shop. Don’t do a quarter of the island in one day like me. Plan accordingly and take your time. This is too good to not savour.
Holidays in Menorca are totally worth it! I reached Menorca from London with Jet2 in just under 2.5 hours. Jet2’s prices are extremely budget-friendly and their service is top-notch on their Menorca flights. Highly recommended. You can also fly from Barcelona and Punta on Mallorca if you’re in Spain already!
When you visit Menorca, there are a ton of other adventure activities you can try. Kayaking is rad and the sunset trips rule. In the evening, you can drink a glass of wine at Cova d’en Xoroi, right on the coast within a cave. Eating dinner at Cap Roig blew me away. Or you could just go ahead and do aqua aerobics at the hotel with the golden oldies. For all you shoppers out there, Menorca has really beautiful handmade shoes that you might like to check out too!
Don’t forget to hop across the water to visit Mallorca next! I’ve heard excellent things about this island. Check out the non-touristy highlights here.
My trip to Menorca was made possible by Turismo de Menorca and Traverse Events. They, quite rightly, had nothing to do with my 12 hour walk (they totally missed out). My opinions as always, are painfully, wonderfully honest.
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