Menorca and the Camí de Cavalls

Back at the beginning of August I blogged about returning to Menorca and the Camí de Cavalls.

Menorca, the second largest of the Balearic Islands after Mallorca, has a coastline of 216km, is 47km in length and has a width of 20km at its widest point. The island boasts over 100 beaches and coves.

Last year we stayed in Ciutadella, the former Menorcan capital, which provided an excellent base from which to explore the island. Having explored many of the island’s attractions last year, the aim for this year was considerably more R&R interspersed with early morning trail runs for me.

On our travels last year we came across Cala Galdana in the South of the Island, providing the perfect mix of beach and easy access to trail. It was an obvious choice when considering where to stay this time around and, in all likelihood, will be somewhere that we return to in future years.

In terms of running potential, Cala Galdana lies on the Camí de Cavalls trail which runs around Menorca and, from my hotel, I was no more than 1/4 mile from routes East or West.

“Menorca is encircled by an ancient bridle path, known as the Cami de Cavalls, which enabled soldiers to ride between the many watchtowers situated around the coastline. Recently reopened for the first time in 400 years, the path stretches for almost 220 km and provides a link between idyllic sandy beaches, hidden coves and deep blue inlets. Over the centuries, it has been trampled by Moor, Catalan, French and English occupying forces. Today, it offers a perfect way for rambles, horse riders and mountain bikers to discover Menorca’s hidden secrets from stunning bays, coves and deserted beaches to woodlands and green valleys full of flowers and wildlife, through to medieaval and prehistoric remains.”

We stayed at the Son Gavilanes hotel and could not have asked for a better experience. Our room, a family double room with an excellent sea view, was huge. The food was excellent, with morning and evening buffets providing ample opportunity for experimentation with local food as well as catering for all tastes, from seafood dishes through to Italian. The proximity to the beach couldn’t have been any better, with easy access to the lovely Cala Galdana beach right in front of the hotel.

Throughout our stay, despite it being the beginning of September, we enjoyed temperatures in the late 20s to early 30s. Even early in the morning, the temperatures were approaching and climbing in to the 20s and I will admit to toiling in the heat. However, given the fantastic trail, there was never any question of not running! My aim was to explore as much of the Camí de Cavalls and the various other routes as possible early in the morning before returning in time to catch breakfast. My longest run was just over 10 miles and, on this occasion, I returned to the hotel looking like I had been thrown in the sea!

My travels took me to the following beaches, both East and West of Cala Galdana:

  • Cala Mitjana
  • Cala Trebaluguer
  • Cala Macarella
  • Cala Macaralleta
  • Cala en Turqueta
  • Es Talaier

The trails were generally undulating and varied from hard packed dirt, to sand, technical rocky sections and sharp eroded rock. The trails I followed took me slightly inland, in to densely forested areas, along the cliffside and, at times, deposited me onto one of the many Menorcan beaches or coves. Certainly in the location that I ran, the trails could be described as being similar to Cairngorm routes and to the technical lochside section of the West Highland Way. Despite the relatively short distances between beaches, I often felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. However, with numerous Camí de Cavalls signs, waypoint and cliff route signs, there was never any real danger of getting lost. There were even reflective strips on posts and trees to aid running, walking and/or biking in the dark.

The scenery was varied, from remote, rugged landscapes, to forest and sandy beaches. One of the main problems I encountered was taking in all the scenery whilst also keeping one eye on the trail. With the prevalence of sharp rocks, loose stones and tree roots, this was not somewhere I wanted to fall!

The following images hopefully illustrate the kind of terrain and views that you will encounter, at least in the area surrounding Cala Galdana.

The Menorca Net website contains some excellent Camí de Cavalls maps:

I can’t recommend Menorca enough as a great destination for anyone looking to run on rocky, rooty, technical trails and hope to return again in the not too distant future. I was surprised at just how hot it could get even in September and would consider going even later in the year in future to make the most of the trails and to get in some longer runs. However, having said that, there’s a lot to say for relaxing on the beach in the sun after a great morning run!