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Ramblers relish autumn trails

The majestic cliffs encountered in the walk to Ġebel Ċiantar. Photos: Romano Cassar and Prof. Joseph M. Falzon

The majestic cliffs encountered in the walk to Ġebel Ċiantar. Photos: Romano Cassar and Prof. Joseph M. Falzon

Fight obesity, enjoy rambling

In its efforts to encourage a healthy lifestyle and to combat the scourge of obesity, which once again has plummeted Malta to the lowest placing as the European Capital of Obesity, the Ramblers’ Association is inviting all nature lovers to join its members on their weekly walks.

The rich garigue scented with the fragrance of the wild thyme, home of the Maltese honey bee.The rich garigue scented with the fragrance of the wild thyme, home of the Maltese honey bee.

Non-members, foreign residents and visitors may join any of the November walks featured on this page and make themselves known to the walk leader. After a few walks they may formally join the association and participate in all its activities.

The association and the other Green NGOs welcome with satisfaction the impressive surge in the awareness of our islands’ natural environment. Maltese society is realising that ‘our fair isle’ would be a very dismal place to inhabit if it is deprived of its unique countryside and coastal areas with their magical rock formations.

There are very few countries where a single day’s walk can be so rewarding, combining scenic beauty with visits to archaeological and historical sites. Many of the November walks in Malta and Gozo offer this opportunity at a time when the varied flora, especially in late November and winter, offers a floral spectacle. If the great English mystic poet William Blake could “see heaven in a wild flower” then a whole paradise of flowers awaits discerning Maltese ramblers.

Next month, ramblers will marvel at the floral sights decking the hill tops or country lanes, the same terrain that looked so bare and forbidding in the hot summer. They will walk past vast areas of garigue graced with the fragrance of wild thyme, home of the Maltese honey bee.

There are very few countries where a single day’s walk can be so rewarding, combining scenic beauty with visits to archaeological and historical sites

Apart from their natural beauty there are particular areas in the Maltese archipelago that host outstanding archaeological, historical and aesthetic sites. Among my favourites is the fantastic trail to Torri tal-Ħamrija, past the Congreve Monument and the secluded cove below, with Żurrieq Valley and Filfla in the distance.

A secluded cove below the neolithic temple of Mnajdra.A secluded cove below the neolithic temple of Mnajdra.

Ramblers can enjoy a nostalgic historical trip from the ornate neolithic temple of Mnajdra below, mystic Misqa with its mysterious signs, and then proceed along country lanes to beautiful Fawwara with its wayside chapels. Perched on high ground is the defensive hilltop of Ġebel Ciantar with its typical Bronze Age village (circa 800BC) complete with defensive walls and silos. From Ta’ Żuta Heights, ramblers will trek along garigue to Salib ta’ l-Għolja and its environs.

The Walks Programme Committee, as well as the dedicated walk leaders, are rendering a great service to the association, which they perform voluntarily and efficiently.

November Walks Programme

Wednesday, November 2

Medieval Malta – Mqabba, Ħal Millieri, Żurrieq, Qrendi (Scenic/historical).

A circular walk from the village core of Mqabba to the ancient medieval hamlet of Ħal Millieri with its wayside chapel and cemetery in open countryside; the walk then proceeds via the outskirts of Żurrieq and Qrendi, both typical Maltese villages with baroque churches, and returns to Mqabba.

Duration: 2½ hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate with some inclines.

Meeting place: Mqabba parish church.

Departure time: 2pm.

Sunday, November 5

Wied il-Kbir Valley System.

The Wied il-Kbir Valley System is one of Malta’s principal water catchment areas and its valleys are well worth a visit. From our meeting point we walk towards the mouth of the valley complex, along Wied Ħanżira, Wied Qirda, Wied Costa and through the Ta’ Kandja area, passing by several sites of natural and historical interest. We ramble back downstream towards Qormi from a different side of the valley system. The exact route may be subject to change depending on the state of the terrain after the first rains.

Duration: 3½ hours.

Rating: Moderate with stretches of uneven terrain and some inclines.

Meeting place: St Sebastian parish church, Qormi.

Departure time: 9am.

Sunday, November 13

Gozo walk (Scenic/historical).

A circular walk via picturesque Ħondoq ir-Rummien and San Anton Battery, past medieval chapels surroun­ded by legends and traditions. This ramble offers fantastic views of the Gozo Channel and Comino.

Duration: 4 hours.

Rating: Moderate.

Meeting place: Mġarr Harbour (Take the 9am ferry boat from Ċirkewwa).

Departure time: 9.30am.

Wednesday, November 16

Zurrieq, Ħal Far, Safi (Scenic/historical).

From Ix-Xarolla Windmill in Żurrieq we walk past the medieval chapel of St Agatha to fertile farmland and the hamlet of Tal-Baqqari. Then we ramble to the peaceful village of Safi and visit one of Sir Alexander Ball’s gardens – Il-Ġnien ta’ Ball – and back to Żurrieq.

Duration: 2½ hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate with some inclines.

Meeting place: Xarolla Windmill, Żurrieq.

Departure time: 2pm.

Sunday, November 20

The Jewels of the Southwest (Scenic/historical).

We set off from Qrendi parish church towards the coastal panoramic road. Skirting garigue stretches, home of the Maltese honey bee, we reach the little-known Ħamrija Tower, past Congreve monument, until we reach Mnajdra Temple, with a secluded cove on the side and with mystic Misqa perched on top. We walk through country lanes and by farmland with mysterious Filfla in the far background. Before we trek uphill to Ġebel Ċiantar with its Bronze Age village we stop in one of the wayside chapels at Fawwara. We then go on to Ta’ Żuta, Salib tal-Għolja and back to Qrendi. This is a walk to soothe the mind, body and spirit.

Duration: 4½ hours.

Rating: Moderate with several medium and fairly long inclines.

Meeting place: Qrendi parish church square.

Departure time: 9am.

Wednesday, November 30

Żabbar, Fgura, Cottonera, Kalkara (Scenic/historical).

This interesting circular tour leads via Fgura through Cottonera and back. Sites of interest on the way are the parish church of Żabbar, the Cottonera Lines and the little-known sacred spot where Grand Master Jean de Valette was seriously wounded on the bastions of Vittoriosa, as well as Fort Rinella and the Capuchin priory and church.

Duration: 3 hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate walks.

Meeting place: Żabbar parish church.

Departure time: 2pm.

Important

Walks will be cancelled in case of very bad weather. If in doubt, call 9949 7080 or 7959 4267. Non-members are advised to contact these numbers before the walk.

Lino Bugeja is honorary president of the Ramblers’ Association of Malta.

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