If your idea of relaxation is to don your walking boots and head for the hills then you'll be familiar with many of Britain's best walking areas such as the Lake District, the Peak District and Dartmoor. While these places offer great scenery and perfect countryside for walkers they do suffer from the unpredictability of the British weather. In fine mild weather the views can be breathtaking, but cooler, wetter weather is often the norm and can ruin an otherwise perfect opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
Many people are now happy to travel abroad for their walking and remove the weather threat. Places like the Austrian Alps and Germany's Harz Mountains are popular, as are the Balearic islands of Mallorca and Menorca which both have some amazing hiking terrain.
For many people Menorca and Mallorca represent budget family beach holidays and that still holds true for certain areas. In fact whole resorts have been developed on Mallorca to cater for a huge demand over the past 20 years. Similar developments on Menorca have been on a smaller scale and have remained within the styles and traditions of existing buildings. That has helped the smaller Menorca keep its natural style, but it hasn't meant the local authorities have been averse to investing money in scenes to attract visitors to the island.
One of those schemes is the renovation of the island's Cami de Cavalls or Path of Horses.. Lookout posts and small forts were constructed all around the island's coastline to prevent attack and invasion and in order to transport supplies and ammunition to those posts a track for horses was created. More modern transport routes and larger carts and carriages meant the track became less used and started to degrade.
But, recognising the history and cultural value of the pathway, the local council have gradually acquired access rights to the land and repaired the footpaths so that they now form one continuous route around the coastline of Menorca. The renovation work has taken many years and seen some lengthy arguments with landowners, some of whom objected to the scheme, but the work is now done and the Cami de Cavalls is attracting visitors to the island. It is also helping to lengthen the holiday season because walkers are happy to visit the island during late autumn and early spring now, when the path is quieter.
On the larger island of Mallorca, the issue of large-scale development was not such a problem as it only took place in certain restricted areas. Away from these popular tourist areas Mallorca already had a wealth of fine countryside and even mountainous regions to the north-east. Walkers have always enjoyed the mountain regions of Mallorca and there are now two recognised footpaths that welcome international walkers all year round.
Across the GR Footpath network is given different names, namely Gran Recorrido in Spain and Grande Rota in Portugal. In the UK we would probably refer to them as Grand Routes, although we don't have any yet.
On Mallorca GR221 travels from Port d'Andratx in the south, northwards to Pollenca on the northern coast, a total distance of 135 km. Some of the route is still undergoing renovation but it is possible to tackle the whole route, not all in one go normally, stopping at different overnight hostels and alternative accommodation.
The other route is GR222 which travels in an east-west direction between Lluc and Arta in the far north east of Mallorca. This route is almost as long as the GR221, again making a multi-stage approach to walking it advisable. This route passes through some of Mallorca's inland towns such as Llubi and Santa Margalida.
So walkers looking for alternatives to the typical British areas could easily arrange a cheap flight to Mallorca or Menorca and benefit from a new walking experience, better weather for sure and well marked routes for an alternative choice of routes.