by Georgette Hayter
Autumn is the perfect time to explore Mallorca. By car, by bike or on foot, the mild temperatures are ideal for journeying down those quiet back roads to see where they lead.
Without venturing far from Pollensa or Alcudia, you can quickly find yourself alone along a country lane amidst lush green landscapes, perhaps stumble across a farmhouse selling their own organic produce, or a sleepy mountain village with one or two not particularly remarkable looking bars (but you know the “menu del dia” or “pan amb oli” served there will be delicious and surprisingly cheap).
The north of Mallorca is brimming with secret corners and hidden valleys. A good place to start would be the Vall d’Aixartell. Nope, its not on the map. Or if it is, it is likely to be written in tiny lettering; of course hidden valleys want to remain that way. Heading from Pollensa on the road towards Palma, shortly past the Golf course is a lane to the right hand side. A couple of agrotourism hotel signposts and some recycling bins are your only indication that you are on the right track. This is a good place to either park and unload the bikes, or switch into Sunday driving mode.
Officially the old road from Pollensa to Campanet, this winding lane takes you through the heart of Aixartell and Fangar, through fertile plains flanked with mountains on either side – the majestic Tramontana to the right and the smaller mountains of Fangar and San Miquel to the left, amongst lush pastures dotted with stunning country homes in a place where tranquility prevails.
A good first stop is at the 13th Century gothic style church of San Miquel which still remains almost unchanged since then. Take the short 15 minute walk up to “Ses Fonts Ufanes”. The best time to visit this weird and wonderful place is the day after heavy rains where a natural phenomenon occurs, unique in the Balearics. Heavy rainfall causes underground springs to burst in this area and the water intermittently surges upwards and flows overground down to the San Miquel torrent. It is a spectacle not to be missed. The unique conditions have contributed to the preservation of the beautiful holm oak forests the “Fonts” are found in, which are a delight to walk through at any time.
Heading left by the church is another of the valleys hidden treasures, the Caves of Campanet. Mallorca’s underground caves are one of the islands main tourist attractions and Campanet have their very own. They see fewer tourists than the better known cave networks on the island, but are equally as beautiful and are arguably in the most scenic location. Discovered purely by accident in 1945 by local land owners, they cover an area of 3200 square metres. Marvel at the passageways and chambers with wonderful stalagmites and stalactites that have been formed by water over millions of years. Even if you decide not to visit the caves, the bar/coffee shop onsite is worth a visit in itself with breathtaking views over the valley and neighbouring mountains whilst you sip your cup of coffee.
Afterwards, head up into the little town of Campanet for a spot of lunch in the square or carry on a little further to one of the picturesque mountain villages of Moscari, Binibona or Caimari for one of those aforementioned pan amb oli’s with all the trimmings.