Relish the reawakening of nature

Relish the reawakening of nature

Ramblers visiting Wignacourt Tower on Comino.

Ramblers visiting Wignacourt Tower on Comino.

The programme of walks for spring has just been published by the Ramblers’ Association and promises members and guests the opportunity to fully relish the reawakening and blossoming of nature at a time when climatic conditions are at their best - the air is fresh but warm, sparse snow-white clouds splash the blue sky, and daylight is bright and clear. Unfortunately, spring in Malta has a short duration, and before long it is no longer pleasant to walk in the sun. So the walks programmed for April and May retain the normal start-times, but come June, morning walks will start earlier and the afternoon walks will start later.

The changeover to summer time today offers more time to revel in the delights of nature. Ramblers have all the ingredients to party in the few months before the heat of summer takes over. With some luck, spring showers or morning mists might dress buds and blooms with dazzling diamond dew-drops... and then, longer days will provide sweeping scenic horizons at sunset. These are God-given gifts for those fortunate enough to be able to seek out and enjoy, even if for a short time of relative peace and tranquility – a relief from the environmental mess our once-beautiful country is being reduced to in the name of economic progress.

A relief from the environmental mess [of] our once-beautiful country

The walks during April target mainly inland venues with cultural and historical interests because the weather still permits it. As the weather warms up in May, walks in Comino and Gozo take pride of place, possibly ending up with a cool dip. Morning walks in June start earlier in the morning and skim the coastline or the cliff edges, with the final walk taking the route outside the Valletta bastions on the water’s edge. Afternoon walks start at 4pm when the day has cooled down and the sun approaches the horizon.

The Ramblers’ Association invites all lovers of nature, especially those who lead a relatively sedentary life, to join in the walks. No prior payment or booking is required to join any one of the walks that is not restricted. Just be on time at the starting point of the walk of your choice, equipped with comfortable shoes and adequate clothing.

For more information e-mail ram205 or call 9949 7080 or 7733 2433.

Sauntering at Wied il-Mielaħ.Sauntering at Wied il-Mielaħ.

Overview of Spring programme of Ramblers’ Association walks from April to June

Sunday, April 2: Qrendi-Żurrieq and the surrounding countryside

A scenic walk along lovely rustic lanes and paths in this area.

Duration: About three to four hours.

Rating: Moderate.

Meeting place: Qrendi, in front of the chapel at Il-Maqluba.

Time: 9am.

Sunday, April 9: Naxxar to Baħar iċ-Cagħaq (Scenic)

A circular walk following the Victoria Lines with views from high vantage points, coming back along country lanes with rough terrain and steep inclines, which could be slippery when wet.

Duration: About three to four hours.

Rating: Hard with some inclines and rough terrain.

Meeting place: Divine Mercy Sanctuary, Naxxar.

Time: 9am.

Sunday, April 23: Kirkop-Mqabba-Qrendi-Kirkop (Historical and cultural)

This ramble skims the outskirts of Kirkop and proceeds to Tar-Robba, then through Mqabba and on to Qrendi, passing by a number of interesting historical sites. The walk will also include a visit to the recently restored Mqabba ‘Plague Hospital’.

Duration: About 3½ hours.

Rating: Easy.

Meeting place: Kirkop parish church.

Time: 9am.

Sunday, April 30: Żejtun-Marsaxlokk-Żejtun. (Scenic and historical)

A fairly long circular walk covering urban and rural features such as old residencies, alleys, chapels, forts, old hamlets, cliffs and others. The walk is in three parts: the first one is urban, the second is rural and coastal, and the third is urban on returning to Żejtun from the Ħal Biżbud side.

Duration: Approximately five hours.

Rating: Moderate to hard (mainly because of the length) with some inclines.

Meeting place: Near Żejtun parish church.

Time: 9am.

Sunday, May 7: Mellieħa-Mistra Valley and Bay-Selmun Bay (Coastal and country/scenic)

The route heads down to Mistra Valley past an ancient apiary then onto Mistra Bay, past Mistra Battery and across to Fort Campbell, down through the countryside to Mġiebaħ (Sel­mun Bay). After a short rest at Selmun Bay we head along the coast up to Il-Kortin.

Duration: Approximately three hours.

Rating: Moderate to hard due to rough terrain and steep inclines.

Meeting place: Mellieħa Park and Drive (Valyou shopping centre).

Time: 9am.

Sunday, May 14: A circular walk around Comino

Landing at the Blue Lagoon the trail will take in the Santa Marija Tower and Battery with their magnificent views of Malta and Gozo. There is no shade, so come prepared. Bring a packed lunch and swim wear (optional).

Duration: Five hours. Ferry back at about 2pm. (Option to catch later ferry)

Rating: Moderate with rough ground.

Meeting place: Ċirkewwa near Comino ferry boats.

Time: 8.30am to leave at 8.45am.

Please come on time. Tickets from committee members as we all leave together, not by scheduled ferry.

Sunday, May 21: Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq-Pembroke-Madliena (Scenic and cultural)

An interesting walk through the British garrison of Pembroke, visiting some very interesting sites and buildings before heading for Madliena Heights and then back down to Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq.

Duration: About three hours.

Rating: Moderate but with sections of rough terrain and some inclines.

Meeting place: Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq near ice cream kiosk.

Time: 9am.

Sunday, May 28: Gozo

From Mġarr, Gozo, the route will take the scenic belvedere of Qala, passing by Il-Mitħna, all the way to Daħlet Qorrot Bay, returning by Nadur and encountering several troglodyte caves.

Duration: From three to four hours (walking).

Rating: Moderate but with sections of rough terrain.

Meeting place: Take the 8.15am ferry from Ċirkewwa.

Time: The walk will start from Mġarr Harbour at 8.45am.

Wednesday, May 31: Mosta, Rabat (Chadwick Lakes and Dwejra Lines), Mosta (Scenic and historical)

A very interesting circular walk that leads through parts of the valley of the Chadwick Lakes (Wied Qlejja), uphill to the Dwejra Lines and downhill back through rural landscapes of deep valleys and fertile farmland.

Duration: Approximately two to three hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate with some inclines.

Meeting place: Mosta parish church.

Time: 4pm (Please note the change in the starting time)

Sunday, June 4: Dingli area (Scenic)

A scenic walk along Dingli Cliffs that will take us past the radar station and onward to enjoy some scenic spectacle.

Duration: Approximately three to four hours.

Rating: Moderate with some rough terrain.

Meeting place: St Mary Magdalene Chapel, Panoramic Road, Dingli Cliffs.

Time: 8.30am  (Note the change in the starting time).

Sunday, June 11: Għadira-Paradise Bay and surrounding country roads (Scenic)

A circular walk taking in some wooded areas and a long rocky coastline and sandy beaches to the north of the island.

Duration: Approximately three to four hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate with some inclines.

Meeting place: Mellieha Bay Hotel car park, Għadira.

Time: 8.30am.

Wednesday, June 14: Qawra, Burmarrad, Bidnija, Mosta, Qawra (Scenic and historical)

A circular walk through Salina National Park, past the Birdpark and the chapel of St Michael and on to San Pawl Milqi in Burmarrad. Then uphill to Bidnija and down to Għajn Rihana valley.

Duration: Approximately two to three hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate with some inclines.

Meeting place: Bella Vista Hotel, Qawra, near Salina National Park.

Time: 4pm.

Sunday, June 18: Five wayside chapels trail (Scenic and geological)

As the name suggests, this tour passes by five wayside chapels and through a deep valley, by collapsed bridges, along a wider plain with a feature called Risq il-Widien. It will pass by catacombs, old beehives, hard-stone quarries and cart-ruts.

Duration: Three to four hours.

Rating: Moderate.

Meeting place: San Pawl tat-Tarġa chapel (Bus 260 from Valletta every hour)Time: 8.30am.

Sunday, June 25: Gardens and bastions

A coastline walk around the Valletta bastions taking in the restored bridge to the breakwater and the side beneath St Elmo, then rising up to the scenic gardens overlooking Grand Harbour. The walk will end up with a lunch at a restaurant near the new Parliament building to celebrate the end of the walking season.

Duration: Approximately three hours + lunch.

Rating: Moderate.

Meeting place: In front of Hotel Phoenicia, Floriana.

Time: 8.30am.

Wednesday, June 28: Luqa, Santa Luċija, Għaxaq, Gudja, Bir Miftuħ, Luqa (Scenic and historical)

A tour through rural farmland to Santa Luċija and the Garden of Serenity, Santa Luċija chapel and on to Għaxaq and Gudja with their interesting centres and famous chapels.

Duration: Three to four hours.

Rating: Easy to moderate with some inclines.

Meeting place: Luqa parish church.

Time: 4pm.

Alex Vella is executive president of the Ramblers’ Association of Malta.

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