Acting responsibly with a sense of concern for the safety of its members, from mid-March, the Ramblers’ Association immediately decided to terminate its winter programme of walks, just as the loveliest season for rambling was about to start.

Although the spring programme was prepared, the decision deemed safest was taken to toe the official line and encourage members to stay safely at home. The April to June programme has been shelved until further notice.

Dracula’s Palace, Brasov, Romania, September, 2017.Dracula’s Palace, Brasov, Romania, September, 2017.

Considering that the current pandemic is, sadly, very likely to extend its havoc with normal life for the foreseeable future, no date has been set for the resumption of walks. It is a sorrowful state that ramblers find themselves in, not being able to roam freely and amicably in their habitual open spaces.

It is even more disappointing for those 40-odd members whose week abroad for the Catalonia Trekking Festival early in May had to be cancelled.

Every year, the Ramblers look out for trekking activities organised by the various national associations affiliated with the European Ramblers’ Association, and set about participating in these international gatherings with the sole aspiration of freely roaming in nature.

A group of Maltese ramblers had already trekked the northern shore of Catalonia, Spain, in 2017. It was a wonderful experience, and all were looking forward to a repeat further south this May. Alas, it was not to be.

Last year, it was the Portuguese ramblers who hosted Maltese ramblers to a week of cultural and natural excursions. Italy, France, Romania, Sweden, Scotland and the Canaries are all unforgettable experiences of previous years.

However, hope springs eternal, and the association anticipates with optimism the quick return of the good and healthy times.

Sicily Trek Fest, Piedmontese Etneo, May 2018.Sicily Trek Fest, Piedmontese Etneo, May 2018.

In such a troubled period, one has to highlight the positive, because, as the saying goes, it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good!

The slackening in the frenetic traffic activity that the pandemic brought about in daily routines has translated in a marked reduction of air pollution. The time for enjoying the outdoors will come but for the moment it is best to exercise indoors, in the company of one’s immediate family.

Simple common exercises, which one can easily search on Google, will keep everyone trim and in good shape for the return of the good times. Then ramblers will be able to enjoy walks in a less polluted natural environment.

In the meantime, all members are exhorted to strictly follow the official directives of the Health Department that are meant to overcome this damn virus in the shortest time possible with the least harm to human well-being.

Meanwhile, here are a few snapshots of some scenic moments in nostalgic reminiscence of the excellent times ramblers have had abroad.

Alex Vella is a member of the committee of the Ramblers’ Association

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