Walking the coastal trails of Menorca with Headwater Holidays
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I love sunshine islands but I've never been
someone who can spend long hours by the beach or pool. A mix of gentle
activity and serious chilling out is my kind of holiday, so Walking the Coastal
Trails of Menorca run by Headwater
Holidays sounded very Me.
This single-centre holiday includes a
week’s half board at a quiet, quality hotel; hire car for the freedom of the
island; and walking notes for six country and coastal walks, plus two town
trails. My husband and I flew out in
May but the itinerary also operates throughout June, September and October.
of Menorca is a great choice for those who want to have a good but not
overly strenuous half-day walk that leaves plenty of time for other visits or
just relaxing by the water. Graded One Boot – easiest of Headwater’s graded
itineraries – the daily walks average 6.5 miles on level to gently undulating
For all these reasons, it’s also ideal for couples
made up of one keen walker (me) and one lukewarm one (my husband John). Following the route notes - well up to Headwater’s usual high standard - brings
out the Boy Scout in all of us and appeals to even the most reluctant walker,
especially when surrounded by such glorious scenery.
Menorca is the quietest of the Balearic
Islands in every respect. No high
rise. No All Day Breakfast (or not that
we saw!). No traffic jams. Think birdsong, quiet lanes, and peaceful
views of coast and countryside.
Driving is very straightforward with one
main road, the Me-1, running across the island from Mahon in the east to
Ciutadella in the west. Traffic is
minimal and leisurely but there are some very uncompromising stone walls so I
would recommend buying extra insurance that covers your excess charge in case
of a claim. Rather than buy from the car
hire company at the airport, we booked online before we travelled. A European policy from Insurance4CarHire costs
just £39.99 for a year’s worth of journeys and guarantees peace of mind in the event
of any bumps or scrapes.
Headwater guests spend the week at the
Morvedra Nou Rural Hotel, around 5 km inland from Ciutadella and surrounded by
farmland. Owned by the same family for
three generations and efficiently run by the ever-smiling Victoria Bendito, the
main building is a tastefully restored 17th century farmhouse, whilst the
bedrooms – apart from three suites in the main house – are located in the
former stable block.
These ground-floor rooms offer accommodation
that’s half in, half out – a compact but perfectly adequate double bedroom with
bathroom (bath with efficient shower over), television (ubiquitous BBC World)
and efficient WiFi. Each garden room
also has a private patio screened by thick hedges with a ‘roof’ of plant-covered
trellis, comfortable Directors’ chairs on rockers (must get some!), and space
for a discreet drying line.
The pool terrace behind the hotel looks
down over glorious gardens, filled with flowering shrubs and birdsong from dawn
till dusk. In mid-May, I found it plenty
warm enough for a few leisurely lengths between poolside coffees and glasses of
For a hotel of just 18 rooms, we were
pleasantly surprised by the breakfast buffet at Morvedra Nou which offered
different local pastries daily as well as fresh fruit, cereals and savouries like
local cheese and cold meat. The dinner
menu is left in the room each night so guests can choose for the following
evening from two dishes at each of the three courses, all freshly
prepared. This isn’t gastronomic fare,
but it’s well presented, authentic and 100% fresh. And if you really don’t like the choices or
have food intolerances, the charming staff are happy to find alternatives.
More sedentary folk than I would, I am
sure, be able to spend entire days chilling out with a good book and a glass of
something cold. But Headwater guests
have the active gene and Menorca does not disappoint. As always, the company provides clients with
an island map that is useful for driving and planning excursions, but the key
to the island lies in their excellent walking notes - animated with information
on flora, fauna and places of interest - that have rightfully earned the
company their reputation for reliability.
It’s easy to think that one coastal walk
will be very much like another but far from it. We followed all three of the south coast
itineraries and each was different. Flat rocks and rocky headlands. Heathland trails and woodland paths. And more beautiful bays with clear aquamarine water than seems decent
for one modestly sized island. Most of
the walks follow the Cami de Cavalls – ancient trails used by mules and riders
– which are well marked with wooden posts topped with a horseshoe symbol.
We also enjoyed two inland routes, kicking
off with a walk along farm trails to visit one of the island’s many prehistoric
sites. Another took us along the shore
past bays of aquamarine water before climbing gently inland through a lush
green gorge to the island’s largest cave. Stepping inside the vast entrance in the hillside, we stood inside the
cool ‘cathedral’ and watched swallows circling in search of insect lunch.
The walks can be enjoyed in any order and
if you have an afternoon flight back you can explore Mahon, the island’s capital,
before you go. With a late-morning return
however, we took a mid-week morning out to explore the town’s historic streets,
dotted with Georgian buildings as a legacy of British rule, and to enjoy the
harbour views. There was still time for
our daily walk later.
We also enjoyed a post-walk visit to Ciutadella,
island capital before the English arrived and chose the bigger harbour. The pretty squares and shady arcaded streets
around the towering cathedral have a much more Spanish feel – a lovely spot for
a drink or fresh fish lunch.
By the end of the week, we’d walked around
45 miles, but relaxed a lot, eaten well, and slept like the proverbial logs,
all of which adds up to another successful Headwater holiday in my book.
146 people found this feature helpful