Ex Cockney Yeoman Solero – Royal Yeomanry

The aim of adventure training was to develop through authorised challenging pursuits and within an outdoor environment, leadership and the qualities necessary to enhance the performance of military personnel during peace and war.

Our expedition was to take us, a group of twelve  novice mountaineers and two instructors of the Royal Yeomanry, from Port de Pollenca on the East coast of Mallorca to Port de Soller on the West and scalping several summits on route, chief amongst them Puig de Massanella (1365m), which is the second highest mountain in Mallorca. Due to radar use it was not possible to summit the highest peak.

A gentle start by bus to Port de Pollenca for our acclimatisation day. The journey showed us how beautiful and rustic the landscape of Mallorca is and gave us an insight into what was to come as the impressive mountains were visible in the distance.

In Port de Pollenca we hiked across town and took a dirt trail towards a 400m high rock wall. This was a rocky peninsular which jutted out into the sea separating the secluded cove of Cala Boquer and Cala Carbo. The incline was quite steep and the heat was in the early 30’s degrees Celsius. Together they made the ascent very arduous. After 300m we rested in the shade of a col, a recess in the ridgeline. Here the Colonel introduced us to some basic techniques for hiking on mountains, reinforcing them by having us put our hands on our heads whilst walking around in a circle on a slight incline. The lesson was in how to use balance and weight distribution. This proved a good morale boost because it looked hilarious.

Early next morning we began the long hike to Lluc via the mountain of Tomir (1102m). At this point Tpr Williams lost some of his dignity managing to tear a gaping hole in the seat of his shorts! Well, we were to discover humour was needed as we travelled in searing heat across dry rocky tracks. As we summited Tomir, it became evident that the pace and heat through this trip would test our resilience.

For some the descent of Tomir was both painful and comical at the same time, but eventually became a good lesson in tackling loose rock on the path known as skree. Alex Higham seemed to nail it first striding out with his pole, digging his heels in and allowing the skree to take him. The other half of the group followed the wily Colonel, who not for the first time showed an expert eye in spotting a usually less arduous route.  That evening we ate at a local restaurant, where the owner not only provided an excellent meal, but made two trips to drive us home as well.

The next morning we followed the GR221 from Lluc to our next hostel, which lay at the top of Puig d’Alaro. A summit of Puig de Massanella was incorporated into the route. Temperature, mid 30’s and time were against us –with a check in by 21.00 – but after a determined attempt the  team successfully summited and the views were more than enough reward. The hike to Puig d’Alaro sapped the last reserves of the group, which was perhaps apparent to the hostel owner, who after serving a pasta dish promptly served jumbo sausages and baked potatoes. What an angel she was.

Day five was an even more gruelling trek than the day before with Captain Wythe, troopers Alex Grey and Alex Higham leading the way. Nearly 12 hours after leaving Puig d’Alaro the group arrived at the hostel, Grey annoyingly looking as fresh as he left.

From Deia we hiked to Port de Soller. Once again the tranquil settings of these hostels and the beautiful surroundings and stunning views, were well worth any effort spent getting there. In Port de Soller we bathed in the sea and ate at one of their fine restaurants.

We had achieved the objective of the expedition, which was to be thrown out of our comfort zones, to dig deep and find the grit to endure. From Soller we took a box-car train back to Palma, the scenery on route some of the most stunning of the trip.

My positives of the whole experience have motivated me to try to gain more mountaineering experience and also to stay in touch with some of the great guys I met from the other Squadrons who shared the experience.

Written by Trooper Knight

With thanks to:

Ulysses Trust

In partnership with:

Berlin Nuffield Trust

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