‘Hello everyone. You have signed up to Stage 3 of the Around The Island in 10 Walks adventure, and what a great stage this is. YES, it’s a big one, 30km, so get an early night…’
I stop to re-read the message Walking Ibiza founder Toby Clarke has posted in our Stage 3 group chat. No, my eyes didn’t betray me. It says 30km. Even as a walking and hiking enthusiast, I have to admit that I find this number daunting. I had a lot of respect for the 25km we tackled on Stage 1, and this is going to be even more strenuous. I have certainly never walked 30km voluntarily before. But the Around The Island adventure is a challenge for mind and body alike, and it is one that I chose to accept. So there’s no chickening out!
We meet bright and early at 8am outside the church of Es Cubells, the finishing point of last week’s route. Today, we’re going to walk all the way from this picturesque village past secret beaches and the majestic Es Vedra rock island towards the famous sunset spot of Cala Comte. The bright sunshine and 22 degrees Celsius that we are once again blessed with betray the date of October 31st: Halloween.
As is tradition, Toby reveals his ‘word of the day’ for Stage 3: acceptance. ‘Accepting our fate,’ I shout out, half-jokingly and half-questioningly. ‘Indeed,’ Toby laughs, ‘but it also stands for accepting the people you are walking with today, accepting that they might be faster or slower than you are, and accepting your own abilities.’
We set off, but it’s not long before we stop at the first point of interest just behind the church of Es Cubells, where Toby tells us the story of Saint Francisco Palau, a Carmelite monk who was banished to Ibiza in the late 19th century. As well as being credited with establishing the settlement of Es Cubells, Palau became famous for his meditative retreats on the mythical Es Vedra, where he is said to have found enlightenment.
As we leave the village behind Olga, a local Ibicenca who is walking with us today, approaches Toby to reveal that her father met the famous Padre Palau when he was a child. She tells us, ‘When my father was around eight or nine years old, he used to go to church in Sant Jordi every weekend. Padre Palau decided to take all the youth who were helping in the church to climb Es Vedra. So my father went with him and they put up a big cross on the island, right at the top where you can still see it today. It was a really big adventure!’
Wow! It’s not even 10am and we have already made a real life connection to a part of Ibiza history. Having been on many trips with Walking Ibiza, I already knew that the groups are a real melting pot of interesting people from all over the world, but it is a real testament to the organisation’s kudos that even the born-and-bred locals are putting their trust into Toby to help them discover new sides to their island home!
The next stop is a simply breathtaking secret beach called Cala Llentrisca. It dazzles with quaint fishermen’s huts, crystal waters and green posidonia meadows that gently sway underneath the sea. I don’t care that it’s the end of October, and that the water temperature is getting rather ‘fresco’, I’m going in! The cold sea stings a little, but the sunlight reflecting in rainbow shards off the white ground below me makes it an unforgettable experience.
Newly refreshed, we tackle the first challenge of the day: a slow 400-metre ascent via an old fishermen’s path all the way to the top of the cliffs opposing Es Vedra. As the lactic acid begins to build in our legs, the promise of the ‘best view of Ibiza’ keeps pushing us on. And when we reach the top, the vistas are indeed jaw-dropping. Almost half a kilometre below us, the striking rock formation reaches out of a sea that is shimmering in a myriad of different shades of blue. Well worth the sore muscles we undoubtedly have to nurse the next day…
What goes up must come down – and the next hour or so is spent navigating our way down the side of the cliff towards the beach of Cala d’Hort. En route, we pass an energy spiral: a structure made from stones laid out in a shape reminiscent of a snail shell. Toby explains that you pick a little object (like a rock or pine cone, but it can be anything, really) to place in the middle of the spiral. As you walk towards the centre, you think of all the things you are grateful for and the universe will send them back to you tenfold.
When we reach the soft sands of Cala d’Hort, we are still shy of the halfway mark but it feels like we have already made enough incredible experiences to last a lifetime. The steep ascent has tired me out more than the previous walks and I feel very grateful for my ‘lunch break with a view’ on Es Vedra. Other walkers are jumping into the sea for a refreshing swim or even squeeze in a cheeky power nap in the sun!
After a few more kilometres spent walking through pine forest, fields and the beautiful Cala Vadella, Toby braces us for the stretch of tarmac that lies ahead. To reach our goal at Cala Comte, we will have to pound the pavement for a while; a route which the more experienced hikers in our group already know and admit can feel a bit drawn out.
But this is the point: the Around The Island adventure is a challenge, not a walk in the park. And while it’s lovely to have a natter with your fellow adventurers, there are times where you have to drop into yourself and focus on your own journey. As we march along the winding road, each of us tackles this stage differently. Some storm ahead with determination, while others stroll and chat away.
I withdraw into my own thoughts, and, for the first time in all three stages, take some time ruminating on Toby’s word of the day: acceptance. In 2020, there are many difficult things we have had to – and continue to – accept, and the steady rhythm of my feet make me fall into a little trance. Despite my burning soles, it feels oddly comforting.
With just under 10km left to go, we stop at a local supermarket and pick up some sweets, fizzy drinks and even some refreshing beers for the road. The ‘Time and Space’ monument – also known as Ibiza Henge – erected by Circe du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté makes for another fascinating stop (and picture opportunity), but we soon have to push on to make it to Cala Comte before nightfall. By now, most of us are keen to reach the finishing line.
It’s been an amazing day and for the final couple of kilometres, we walk alongside the setting sun. It’s a clear evening and we can see as far as mainland Spain across the sea, the mountain range behind Denia and Calpe set off against the orange sky. ‘I just had to shed a little tear looking at the sunset. It’s been an amazing day,’ confesses Ricardo, one of the walkers who has signed up to all 10 stages of the Around The Island in 10 Walks series.
With stiff legs and aching feet, we finally stop at Sunset Ashram in Cala Comte: a little bit exhausted, but an awful lot proud of our achievement! As a stunning Full Moon rises over the hilltops, Toby waves us off with the promise that Stage 4 will be easier. I guess we will have to find out…
If you want to join the next part of our ‘Around The Island in 10 Walks’ adventure, you better hurry because spaces are going fast! Are you up to the challenge? Book your spot here!
Written by Olivia Ebeling