February, with its wintry wrath of wet and chilly days, is thankfully nearly over and ramblers look forward to the warmer sunny days of March that boost the dazzling radiance of colourful nature.
Spring looms once again, and the spirit is spruced with rejuvenated life and light all around: the exhilarating effect on ramblers is a yearning for the lay of the land where nature refreshens limbs with vim and vigour.
Alas, open countryside is fast becoming a misnomer in Malta as more and more of it is being taken up for all sorts of excuses by successive administrations. There is no place in our countryside where one can look around and view unspoilt natural landscape. All over God’s creation, repetitive unaesthetic construction surges its ugly head and casts a long foreboding shadow on the future of the genuine Maltese environment.
That which truly characterises the Maltese islands is being systematically wiped out and ministers brag bravado in doing it. Rationale has been cast to the wind as the powers that be are inebriated with spiralling economic expansion; our islands’ limited space makes its current rate unsustainable. How they cannot understand this basic lie of the land is explicable only by impropriety and sleaze.
What is urgently needed now is consolidation: taking care of our natural and cultural heritage so that what has been attained by way of full employment and a thriving economy can find equilibrium in our distinctive national environment.
We have reached the top of the curve, and diminishing returns are inevitable, exacerbated by irreversible degradation of the natural environment, and eventual loss of character.
Ramblers urge the government to stop paying lip service to the natural environment while eNGOs spend their scanty resources in protectecting what remains: it is useless recruiting “citizen scientists to monitor wild orchids” at the same time that their habitat is being destroyed.
Ramblers will spend the first weekend of March enjoying a series of walks in Gozo, while being accomodated at a leading hotel in Marsalforn. The walks are planned to start on Friday at 2.30pm, and on Saturday and Sunday at 9am. They will all start from the Menqa, the fishing boats’ protective harbour in Marsalforn. The Saturday walk will take some six to seven hours, yet any participant can stop en route as the walk passes not far from various bus stops. The Gozo weekend walks are mystery walks but promise entertaining panoramas.
The walk planned for Sunday, March 11, has a historical bearing as it meanders through the bastions and streets of the Three Cities. It starts at Senglea Gate and consists of three hours of easy walking, accompanied by informative commentary.
On Wednesday, March 14, there will be a ramble around the countryside of Siġġiewi, lasting about three to four hours. It is a moderate to hard walk with some rough terrain and inclines. The meeting place is Siġġiewi’s main square at 2pm.
On Sunday, March 18, there will be a walk around the western end of the fishtail of Malta, starting at the Mellieħa Bay Hotel car park at 9am. Again, it is moderate to hard, traversing uneven and rough surfaces.
Another walk on Wednesday, March 21, leaves Tas-Salib, on the road from Rabat to Binġemma Gap, at 2pm. It is a relatively easy route taking in the hamlet at Għemieri (Gomerino) and part of the Victoria Lines.
The last walk for March, on Sunday 25, is more physical as it traverses the valleys around Qrendi for about four hours. However, it offers magnificient views and historical sites. It starts at Żurrieq parish parvis at 9am.
Alex Vella is executive president of the Ramblers’ Association of Malta.
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