Desert de les Palmes is actually a 3200 hectare nature reserve covering a fairly narrow mountainous strip just in from the coast. The area got its name from a Carmelite religious order's use of the term desert to describe places dedicated to spiritual retreat. There are also apparently plenty of fan palms hereabouts, just not along the route of the Bartolo walk. The Carmelite monks arrived in 1697 and their two monasteries - one in ruins and one modern - are some of the most interesting buildings to be seen in the natural park.
Our walk began at the Information Centre which is set back from and above the single winding road and pretty easy to miss. We had to turn around a few hundred yards further on and return. There is a car park up the paved drive, but it closes at the same as the Centre itself (2pm in winter) so we were lucky to get parked just outside.
|Looking down to the ruined monastery|
|Looking up to the new monastery|