Menorca is encircled by an ancient bridle path, known as the Cami de Cavalls, which was used during the British occupation by the military, enabling them to guard the island from attack and ride between the many watchtowers located around the coastline. Recently reopened for the first time in 400 years, the path stretches for almost 220 km and provides a link between idyllic sandy beaches, hidden coves and deep blue inlets.
Over the centuries, it has been patrolled by Moor, Catalan, French and English occupying forces. Today, it offers a perfect way for rambles, horse riders and mountain bikers to discover Menorca’s hidden secrets from stunning bays, coves and deserted beaches to woodlands and green valleys full of flowers and wildlife, through to medieaval and prehistoric remains.
Exploring the Camí de Cavalls also gives a fantastic insight into Menorca’s unique and changing landscape as well as how the land has evolved and become occupied through urban development and the infrastructure of tourism.
No one is certain of the exact origins of the Cami de Cavalls. Some say it dates back to Christian conquest in the Middle Ages. The presence of a coastal track around the island was first documented in the late 17th century, indicating that it was already very old.
The path was developed by the French during their occupation for defense purposes as well as to connect the coastal farms and villages and throughout the 18th century it was used as a perimeter track to defend the island. It gave the military and government authorities of the time the ability to survey the entire coastline and provided an effective means of communicating with watchtowers, military units and other fortresses.
Gradually the military began to exclude the public from the road and parts became almost forgotten. In fact, the Cami de Cavalls remained an important surveillance route for the army well into the last century.
In the late 1980s conflict started to arise between landowners and ramblers. While the authorities wanted to guarantee the right of use for recreation and tourism, the path occasionally crossed over private farms and the dispute continued for many years. It was not until 2000 that legislation was passed declaring the Camí de Cavalls as part of the island’s historic and cultural heritage for the people of Menorca to enjoy.
Today, the route has great ethnological and cultural value as it takes in prehistoric monuments, old sandstone quarries, local plants and wildlife as it makes its way through some of Menorca’s most spectacular countryside. There are around twenty different recommended tracks to explore either on horseback, foot or mountain bike.
For information about walking around the Camí de Cavalls, click here.