The promotion of hiking on the island of Mallorca, through the “Pedra en Sec” (dry stone) routes, has been seen as an excellent way of discovering the heritage related to this kind of stone construction and at the same time support an activity that is available to all, as it does not require any special physical conditions and can be practised at any age. For people who like walking, it is a simple way of discovering a region and enjoying the scenery and everything the route offers (history, art, traditions, legends...). The Consell de Mallorca began this promotion by restoring and signposting different paths of interest in terms of heritage or hiking.
In time, and by way of more ambitious initiatives, it has started up to hiking routes, the “Ruta de Pedra en sec” (Dry stone route) and the “Artà-Lluc Route”.
These routes signify the creation of itineraries and at the same time are a way of revitalizing the economy of the municipalities they involve, always through activities that respect the environment. Hiking helps recover the heritage elements linked to the routes; strengthens new tourism products and a new range of leisure options for residents; contributes to promoting the local gastronomy and crafts and, consequently, to recovering traditional trades and agricultural activities, and also favours the creation of local businesses, etc. The two projects mentioned are conceived as trails within the “Gran Recorregut” (GR), itineraries for walkers of over 50 Km., endorsed for the Spanish Federation of Mountain and Climbing Sports. There are two kinds of signs along these GR (long routes): markers and directional signposts. The markers are wooden poles with directional arrows bearing the distinctive colours of a GR (white and red). The directional signposts have a sign showing the kind of path and number, the destination point and, when deemed appropriate, the approximate duration time of the route.
All along the "Pedra en Sec" Route (GR 221) the aim is to discover the landscapes constructed using the dry stone from the Tramuntana mountains and their diverse manifestations: borders, walls, underground water galleries, huts, ice stores, etc.
This route also enables one to visit interesting historical remains, encounter the local myths and legends, find out about the traditions, customs, gastronomy, crafts, etc.
When it is completed this long route will link the western tip of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range (municipality of Andratx) with the eastern one (municipality of Pollença), and pass through the villages of Calviá, Estellencs, Banyalbufar, Esporles, Valldemossa, Deià, Sóller and Escorca.
The route is approximately 150 Km. long and for the most part takes advantage of the old bridle paths which run close to the highest peaks in the mountain range, which often exceed an altitude of 1000m.
The itinerary is structured in eight stages, at the end of each of which the hiker will find a refuge managed by the Consell de Mallorca (Mallorca Council) and located preferably in a restored house. One is free to walk the whole route or simply cover some of the stages, enabling one to adapt the itinerary to the specific needs of each group and the time available. At the same time alternative centres of interest or routes other than the main route are proposed.
The fact that the route is supported by the Sierra’s main network of ancient pathways contributes to giving new uses and maintaining all this heritage, a large part of which has disappeared or undergone an alarming degradation with the decadence of the rural world. This project has given rise to a significant collaboration between institutions. ON the one hand, the rehabilitation of paths implies cooperation with local councils and private landowners; and on the other, the creation of refuges involves the participation of the GOB organisation (La Trapa refuge), Sóller Council (La Muleta refuge) and the “Fundació Castell d’Alaró” (“hostería” refuge).
The “Pedra en sec” or dry stone route has been divided into 8 stages with 3 variants enabling one to cross the Serra de Tramuntana mountains from west to east. Each stage has a refuge that can be used to accommodate the walkers, but they can also make use of the population centres the route passes through or near, as places for provisioning and staying in overnight. The stages pass through differentiated landscapes: coastal areas, barely inhabited or totally deserted; villages and hamlets; agricultural areas; woods, uncultivated lowlands and “màquies” on the highest peaks.
In all of them there is a significant presence of dry stone constructions, in the form of enclosing walls, terraces, paths, etc. Many of the refuges are located in places that can be considered natural viewing points and at the same time, they are all associated to extremely important heritage items of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, in both ethnological and natural, artistic, historical or cultural terms. Also, a stay in a refuge may be the starting point for different hikes in the immediate surroundings, which broaden and enrich the route.