Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Saturday 30 April 2011 - Puig Sant Martí and S'Albufera de Mallorca Natural Park

A short bus ride found Sue and me in Alcúdia by 10.40 on a cloudy morning with a cool breeze.

We soon warmed up by way of the rough and direct 266 metre ascent of Puig Sant Martí. A view from the summit is shown above. The hill was otherwise deserted, but judging by the amount of rubbish it does receive regular visits from the less environmentally conscious brand of visitor. Judging by the tacky streets in this part of Alcúdia, such visitors wouldn't have to stray far from their digs to reach this splendid little hill and its panoramic view.

The rest of the morning was spent negotiating our way without the benefit of a map to S'Albufera de Mallorca Natural Park, via a piece of waste ground with an abandoned chair that provided a suitable venue for lunch.

R+L were duly located after their 30 mile bike ride via Muro, and we spent a happy afternoon with Crested Coots and more Bee Orchids, to name just two of the plentiforous fauna and flora that will no doubt appear at some point by way of a link to a slide show.

That's all for now, as the demolition of a food and drink mountain is getting into swing, after which I'll be in no state to continue.

So it's goodbye from Mallorca for the time being...it has been an excellent trip.

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Friday, 29 April 2011

Friday 29 April 2011 - The Mountain Road to Lluc Monastery



Pictured today at 10am, Robert, Lyn and me setting off from outside our apartment at the start of our journey on the road to Campanet.

Sue stayed at home to wallow in ... (most men would prefer to go to the pub, I suspect).

It was slightly cloudier today, but excellent conditions for cycling. It's a popular road for cyclists that leaves Puerto Pollença in the direction of Campanet. We by-passed that town in favour of some quiet lanes to Binibona, where morning coffee was not readily available.

However, a little further on in Calmari, we found a suitable café, which also for some reason was showing a 'royal wedding'. Robert was eventually dragged kicking and screaming from the TV, and our merry trio embarked on the gentle 400 metre climb up to Coll de sa Batalla. Robert went first and I thought I was behind him, but I got in with a group of seven road bikers from Surrey and didn't notice Robert coming back down the hill in search of Lyn.

So after a long wait at the coll, the easy descent to Lluc was most welcome. We lingered there for some time - lunch, botanical gardens, monastery, etc, before heading off along the scenic mountain road to Pollença via Coll de Femenia, at 640 metres probably the highest point I'll reach this trip. We kept stopping to snap the lovely views, so progress was agreeably gentle.

By and by, after a relaxing descent past Mortitxet, we cruised into Pollença, with Robert's bike seemingly on auto pilot. Straight to the ice cream kiosk. More tasty ices. They set us up for a final potter through the lanes back to the apartment for another thrilling episode with the barbecue.

Today's excellent route was about 64km and took a very leisurely less than seven hours.

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Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thursday 28 April 2011 - Three Walks in One Day!

Sue and I don't possess any notable guide books or maps of Mallorca. Despite it being my third visit, I've always wondered whether I'd enjoy repeat visits, and my companions have always been heavily armed with literature. So my own library is unusually bare when it comes to Mallorca.

This time Robert and Lyn have everything you could want to know about cycling on the island, and Sue has borrowed the 'Walk Mallorca (North & Mountains)' Discovery Walking Guide, by Charles Davis. Thanks Nightbird. This week's walks have been based on some in that excellent guide book. We have no walking map.

Today Sue and I were kindly transported by R+L to Kilometre 12 on the scenic road to Cap Formentor on another beautiful warm, sunny morning.

This placed us in a fine location to tackle three of Charles's walks and be home by bus for 4.30.

Walk number 38 was our first target. Setting off at 10am, the easy stroll down to Cala Figuera, on a good track through the pines with tuneful chaffinches, hardly prepared us for what was to come.
The route from the beach up to the 299 metre summit of El Morro de Catalunya was rough and tough. Marked by cairns, it's easy enough to find the way, but very slow going. Not that one would want to hurry, given the fine views that unfold during the ascent through beds of Rosemary and St Johns Wort. Cap Formentor soon comes into sight, then from higher up there are views to the green fields of Casas Velles and, in the distance, the Torre de Albercutx. Today's picture was taken on the summit, looking west.

An hour later we had descended back down past chatty stonechats to the sparkling sea at Cala Figuera, where a few bathers were now installed on the rocky beach. It's a steep haul back up to the road, especially in this heat. We comforted ourselves in the knowledge that the heavily tattooed group of Brits in flipflops that we encountered may have found it tougher than we did.

That got us up to the car park at Kilometre 13 on the PM-221 road, the starting point for walk number 39.
Our 12.45 start took us down a pleasant lane towards Cala Murta. After 15 minutes, spot on 1pm, a picnic table appeared under a canopy of pine trees. Perfect timing for a picnic!

After lunch we headed along rough paths all the way up to Coll de Olivares. Near here the guide book describes having to climb a fence to enter privately owned land (ie trespass), but we were pleased to be able to negotiate the high fence by way of a sturdy new ladder stile. Mallorca has not always welcomed walkers, but I suspect the activity is now recognised as producing good income for the island, whose landowners are gradually becoming more tolerant. I suspect that thanks are due to in part to the numerous German visitors who love to walk on the island, for this gradual improvement.

Anyway, this potentially unwelcome barrier having been surmounted, we strolled on up the rough track to Coll de la Geneta, from where a trail of cairns led us directly over a rough limestone pavement to the spacious 332 metre summit of Na Blanca.

More fine views, especially towards this morning's summit.

On the cairned way up we had passed two Brits, the only two people seen out walking today. They had Charles Davis's guide book in their hands. Maybe the German guide books don't recommend today's routes?
Walk number 37 starts at Playa Formentor and covers the ascent of Na Blanca. Since we were already on that summit, all we had to do was follow walk 37 in reverse. This is pretty simple so long as you follow the basic rule about following cairned routes where there is no path as such. (If you lose the cairns retrace to the last cairn you found and start again.)

Not even a 'lost cairn' incident prevented us from achieving the descent to the bus stop in around an hour, though a 'low branch' incident did cause Sue to falter for a while, muttering "Why didn't you tell me about the low branch?" Simple - I didn't notice it!

A word of warning to potential passengers - the 15.45 bus back to Puerto Pollença left Formentor rather early!

We had been on our feet in the heat for nearly 6 hours, ascending around 700 metres in total, covering only about 13km despite 'ticking off' three walks in Charles's book.

R+L have now arrived back from a 47 mile peramble on their bikes, including a couple of hours in Manacor looking for lunch.

'Paella' is calling from our local restaurant...

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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wednesday 27 April 2011 - A Ride to and a Trip to Pollença


A glorious sunny morning greeted us today. Robert, Lyn and I were quick off the mark, with a cycle ride to Cap de Formentor planned before the traffic got too heavy.

The plan worked, and we enjoyed a great four hour ride to the point and back. 44km with 860 metres ascent. Lovely views (Lyn and I are pictured at the Cap, where we also enjoyed coffee and cake).

Meanwhile, Sue got the bus to Pollença and climbed Puig de Maria before meeting us for tapas.

The rest of the day disappeared in a blaze of activity involving Pollença, a misplaced car, some fizzy wine and an adventurous barbecue.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tuesday 26 April 2011 - A Stroll to Penya Roja

Woke to a cloudy day and a clumsy kitchen (still haven't cleared the broken bottle from behind the 'fridge!). Light rain fell as we breakfasted, wondering how those at home were coping with the UK's heatwave.

Good news has arrived on the grandparenting front - Kate and Jacob are back at home and the lad is getting on well with his new surroundings.

This morning Sue and I got a lift in Robert and Lyn's taxi, and after a few false trails in Alcúdia we were dropped off at the beach near Campamento de la Victoria. A 40 minute stroll up to Ermita de la Victoria was rewarded with a coffee at the otherwise deserted restaurant. But the narrow path to Penya Roja was really busy. It runs alongside cliffs to some fortifications that overlook Cap del Pinar. After squeezing through a small tunnel we clung on to a chain fastened to the rocks above a 250 metre plummet into the sea (one bounce or two?) for the unwary. Having survived thus far it was an easy scramble to a lonely cannon that has spent the last 400 years perched atop Penya Roja. It wasn't so lonely today though, with hundreds of German tourists clambering all over it.

After retracing our steps for a while, we returned to the track that narrows to a steep mountain path for the ascent to our highest point of the day, Talaia D'Alcúdia, an excellent spot for lunch amongst the asphodel - 445 metres, with fine views in all directions on this now clear day.

It's was a sunny hour from here to Coll Baix, down at 130 metres. The path crosses the bare slopes of the Puig d'es Boc before descending in zigzags. A vertiginous view (pictured) at the top of these zigzags affords one the pleasure of the sight of the churning waters on the beach at Platja de Coll Baix, which can apparently be a dangerous place to bathe.

From Coll Baix, pleasant woodland paths led us all the way back to Alcúdia, via an incident with a bus that had mislaid its 20 passengers (we had seen them) and a rare encounter with some Bee Orchids that were flourishing in an innocuous ditch at the gates to Parc de la Victoria.

The old town of Alcúdia was a fine place to finish this walk, after 23km of strolling with around 800 metres ascent, in around 7 hours including breaks. A pot of tea at one of many cafés went down very well before we tracked down a bus back to Puerto Pollença. Provisions had been laid out by R+L for us to construct a meal, which was duly wolfed down after that duo had returned at 8pm from a 55 mile bike ride.

So today turned out to be a lovely day, despite the early drizzle, but we have heard the sad news from SAHH that there has been a temporary hiatus in Timperley's April heatwave.

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Monday, 25 April 2011

Monday 25 April 2011 - A Bike Ride to Muro

Firstly, thank you, everyone, for your messages, including an entire tome from Clive Dunn's department of literacy, concerning grandparenthood. Everything is going well and we'll be visiting the youth as soon as we return to the UK.

Today Sue set off early for a walk to Cala de Sant Vicenç, including a scrambly diversion to a summit.

Meanwhile the three cyclists headed off in a fairly random direction, past the Parc Natural de S'Albufera de Mallorca, towards the small town of Muro.

Avocets and egrets entertained us in the Parc, but there was no sign on this route of the rare crested coots that we saw here last year.

Muro was reached after Robert had got through another inner tube, and the café where R+L planned to enjoy lunch was eventually found after several tours of the environs of the church pictured above. It sits on top of a small hill that is visible from miles away. The desired café was less visible.

Excellent vegetable pasties and delicious cake were 'on tap' when we eventually found the place.

A few drops of rain reminded us of the overcast day, before we were further distracted, beyond the hilltop village of Búger, by another of Robert's punctures. This time the culprit was found - a small piece of glass in a tyre, persistently rubbing through a whole batch of inner tubes.

Even into a head wind, the journey past Campanet along a pleasant valley between two ranges of hills was most enjoyable. Our 65km ride was completed by 5pm, in plenty of time for a visit to Bruce's ever more crowded bike shop. We depleted his dwindling reserves of inner tubes and grabbed a big spanner to move my saddle into a less cramped position.

There were lots of bikers out today, many on hired bikes. Few will have enjoyed such a splendid evening meal as our quartet's home cooked fayre of pork tenderloin with cauliflower cheese and much more, followed by pears in red wine.

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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sunday 24 April 2011 - Overcast in Puerto Pollença

Yesterday disappeared in a surreal puff of time. Kate's early "I've just had a baby" call was of course the highlight, but in no time at all we had planted some onions in Barney and Carmen's massive garden, then 'Uncle Mike's' taxi zoomed us off to Terminal 1, and before we knew it we were toasting the new parents from a table at 'can Cuarassa'. It's an excellent restaurant just a few minutes walk down the road from the apartment here in Mallorca that we are sharing with Robert and Lyn for the week.

The weather here is temperate. We have moved from a UK heatwave to April showers in Mallorca.

After waving Sue off on a scenic walk in the Bóquer Valley, and a trip to the local bike shop to collect my hybrid bike for the week (R+L have already been here for a few days so have their bikes), the three of us set off on an undulating 45 km tour of the Alcudia peninsula.

A coffee at the Mirabel de la Victoria set us up for the afternoon's trip to Port d'Alcudia, where various more produce was scoffed and Lyn tried to resuscitate a dying horse (pictured). A planned 'long way round' route home was rejected after spots of rain appeared from ominous black clouds.

Luckily, we made it back before the rain started. Sue had returned, loaded with pictures of flowers, and we enjoyed an exciting evening in the apartment.

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