Retracing the steps of Maggie Smith…

Formentor, Pollensa

North Mallorca By Emma Blank

A day in the hills with the owners of Sion Townhouse. Follow their footsteps in this 5.5 miles magical walk at Formentor Mallorca with a paddle, swim and a beer at Formentor beach at the end.


One of my favorite films is an Agatha Christie classic called ‘Evil Under the Sun’. It’s a brilliant ‘who dunnit’ picture, with Hercule Poirot at the helm, played by the wonderfully charismatic Peter Ustinov. The cast includes the sublime Dame Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg and James Mason, who throughout the film are impeccably dressed head to toe by Anthony Powell in Dior, Channel and Gucci and the locations are simply stunning, shot mainly around Formentor & Soller. When we were kids, my brother and I watched this film countless times, mimicking the wonderful Belgian accent of Poirot whilst tweaking our invisible curly moustaches and marveling at the grandeur. Little did I know all those years ago, that I would one day own a house a stone’s throw away from where this wonderful film was shot. I have to pinch myself every time I go to the heavenly beach at Formentor, thinking that maybe just maybe, I am standing on the same sand where these brilliant actors once stood. 

Anyway, I digress. It is one of those May days in Mallorca where it’s hot, but the sun is playing peak a boo behind the clouds.  We have spent the last few days on the road bikes, so today decided on a hike. Now hiking in Mallorca can be a bit of a mission. Having years of high mountain experience under our belts, including scaling peaks in Switzerland, Italy, Scotland and the Lake District, Mallorca is the only place in the world where we have been lost not just once, but a number of times. The problem is that the maps are out dated and the paths overgrown, so you really have to pay attention to what you are doing and retrace your steps if your tummy tells you something isn’t quite right. Also, land owners tend to block gates and privatise paths with no prior notice, so it’s best to check with the tourist office in Pollensa if you are going to embark on a hike that is off the beaten track.  This hike is easy route finding once you find the starting point. 

The best place to park is at the main car park at Formentor (this being on the bend where the lighthouse road turns to Cap Formentor). From here, you can walk down to the beach and along the sand towards the Formentor Hotel. You’ll pass a couple of beach bars and also the grounds of the Barcelo hotel.  Immediately after the hotel, you’ll see a small tarmacked road on your left, which winds its way along the North side of the hotel and heads up hill.  There are a couple of mansions on your right and you’ll soon come to a road heading off to the right.  Take this road and walk to the end, where you’ll find a private gate at the head of a driveway Punta Cassetta, the start of this walk is on your left designated by a small cairn.

The zig zag path heads immediately uphill and is quite a pull through a wooded area, though there are several lookout points on the way, where you can stop for a breather, drink of water and also a chance to take in the wonderful views. There is a smell of pine in the air and an abundance of goats going about their day to day business. Cairns and red paint splashes mark the route, so there is little chance of getting lost here. Heading out of the tree line, the top of the mountain is soon reached. It is covered in stone slabs which resemble moon type rocks, so can be a little tricky under foot, though our four-legged companion Maggie Moo bounced around them like she was in ballet slippers. It takes around 30-45 minutes to reach the summit depending on your fitness levels and how often you stop for selfies.

Once at the top of this 952 ft peak called Na Blanca, the 360 degree views are breathtaking. You can see the North tip of the island as well as the foreboding Foraleza, the Puig Major and Alcudia peeks out in the distance. The sea looks stunning, with its various shades of blues and greys.

In my mind I returned to a scene in the film where Christine Redfurn (played by the beautiful Jane Birkin – remember the one that whispered ‘Je Taime’ on the famous Serge Gaisbourg record?) stands on the top of a cliff and looks down to the sea shore. If I’m not mistaken, it could have been at the very spot where we had lunch.

After spending a fair amount of time at the summit, the hike from the top is well cairned and heads North East through similar terrain until a rather large track is reached. It’s pretty straight forward from here as you gradually lose height and keep left at all junctions heading into a wooded valley.  From here the path pretty much runs adjacent to the MA 2210. This eventually pops out at the car park where it all began.

The 5.5 mile walk was magical and took us just over 2 and a half hours excluding stops (we were walking at a decent pace). The great thing is that at the end, you can head to my all-time favorite beach for a beer, a paddle and a google to find ‘Evil Under the Sun’.


Car park Formentor

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