Once the temperatures on the island start to drop and autumn sets in, the number of hikers, cyclists and walkers vastly increases. And, after several months on the beach, everyone also feels like doing a bit of "inland" tourism. Zealous as we Menorcans are of our environment, and ever conscious of the need to preserve nature, here are some tips for you to enjoy the countryside as much as we do.
Essential rules you should respect in the Menorcan countryside
No matter whether you choose to walk on the Camí de Cavalls path from Son Bou to Cala en Porter, visit the Torre d’en Galmes settlement or simply go for a stroll along the Binixems lanes…setting foot on a dirt road means that you should be aware of some "Menorcan" rules that ensure that your visit goes unnoticed by the wildlife that inhabits our countryside. And that is, in part, is what proudly preserves Menorca's status as a Biosphere Reserve. Below are four guidelines to bear in mind when you go on an excursion.
- If you come across a closed gate, close it again once you go through. This may seem very obvious, but on many occasions farmer have had to fetch their livestock from a neighbour's farm when thoughtlessly people forget. A gesture as simple as leaving the olive wood "ullastre" gates as you found them can prevent many an upset... and it is a simple and respectful gesture that shows our appreciation of the environment. This rule is especially important to bear in mind if you are a large group of cyclists, remembering that the first person to go through should always wait behind to leave the gate as they found it, or pass the message to the last in the line so that they can close it.
- Don’t stray from marked paths. Menorca's terrain may seem hospitable at first glance but, especially if you're walking a route close to the sea, following the signposted paths will save you the trouble of finding yourself lost in the middle of nowhere - and without mobile phone range - or coming across impassable terrain that you’ll struggle to get out of. The Camí de Cavalls is marked every few metres by wooden posts that also indicate the type of route. The vast majority of paths and public places that can be visited also have signs. And this is particularly important to bear in mind, as there is a lot of private land on the island. The easy height allowing everyone to jump over a "paret seca" dry-stone wall can give a false impression of what are actually existing boundaries between public and private property that must be respected.
- Don’t climb over any dry-stone walls or archaeological sites. On your routes through the Menorcan countryside, you may come across some damage in these types of constructions that do not use cement to bond the stones together, but an ancient technique that has been used for centuries in the Mediterranean. As the stones are not held together by ay mortar, it is easy for a stone to come loose if you try to climb a wall. Therefore, do not climb over these walls at all unless they have a specially designed series of stepping stones in them. So, how can you tell if there is a step or not? If you look closely, you will see that some dry-stone walls have horizontal stones that protrude like stairs on both sides of the wall. These are safe steps, and will save you a lot of detours and the wall any damage. As for the many archaeological sites that Alaior proudly contains, it is completely forbidden to climb on any of the constructions. Just imagine being responsible for the collapse of a stone of this significance that has been in the same place for 3,000 years…
- Everything you take with you on an excursion should come back with you. In other words, make sure that you do not leave rubbish anywhere. Many of the plastics that end up in the sea are due to sheer carelessness, where someone "forgot" a bag on the path and it blew away in the wind. We like to keep our island looking immaculate for when visitors arrive, so we ask for your cooperation to leave it just as well-tended for whoever comes after you.