The month of May has spring in full swing, with nature swaying sprightly before hot spells of weather start withering away the foliage.  It is the time to relish the joys of the outdoors – the azure skies and warm sunshine, the verdant foliage and colourful bloom, all resplendent against the contrasting deep blue of the beyond in the radiant light that only the Mediterranean clime can secure. 

The ramblers get their charge out of nature in the open countryside.  They crowd the walks every Sunday morning as well as on Wednesday afternoon every fortnight to exercise and socialise in a very delightful way, with the occasional cultural content thrown in to boot. 

The Association emphasises the benefits of walking, even more regularly, and openly invites all to join freely in the programmed walks.  It is the only way to get to know the real nature of the islands, their wealthy cultural and historical content, their lush landscapes, their weird geographical secrets, and their (alas) fading flora and fauna.

The Association takes some encouragement in witnessing the organisation of other walks by individuals whose sole aim is to provide guidance for roaming in the countryside of Malta. They provide safety by guiding through scouted routes.

These individuals have the full backing of the Ramblers as they unwittingly fulfil the mission that the Association was set up to achieve – to secure access to the coastline and the countryside, promote a healthier lifestyle, and to entertain friendly gatherings to behold the beauty of the islands’ landscape. They provide security in numbers because one still finds hot-heads who believe they have the God-given right over ages-old paths and lanes, and dare stop any lone rambler from walking through.

It is reprehensible that to date no government or authority has found the way of stopping such abuse of power in the countryside that is depriving honest individuals from seeking the freedom, peace and tranquillity of a simple ramble on a trodden pathway on the commons.

It was the Ramblers Association that gave momentum to the eventual legislation of the Public Domain Bill, but it is damning that after so many years in the making no benefit has been derived from it. On the contrary, lack of explanation about the significance and the workings of such a bill has fostered unease among landowners, resulting in the unfortunate diffusion of high walls, gates and other contraptions to prevent honest access.   With economic affluence going mostly their way, and taking advantage of the shameful lack of enforcement, land grabbers and rich land owners/tenants are continuously devising novel ways to deprive free access to the common man from large swathes of land and coastal zones. In 2013 what was that call?  Malta tagħhna lkoll!

Stunning scenery around Baħrija.Stunning scenery around Baħrija.

May walks

May 5: A lovely walk along valleys around Qormi, taking up Wied is-Sewda, Inċita, to Tal-Ħlas, crossing over to Wied Qirda then descending Wied il-Kbir beneath Tal-Ħandaq and near Qabar tal-Ingliża and Wied iċ-Ċawsli. The starting point is near the Park and Ride, Marsa, across from Lidl entrance.

May 12: No walk is scheduled on Mother’s Day.
May 15: Dingli Cliffs and inland valleys, along part of the cliff road the walk heads inland towards Wied Ħażrun, Wied ir-Rum and then on to Mtaħleb. The return march will take in scenic country lanes. The easy to moderate walk starts from near Bobbyland Restaurant on Dingli Cliffs.

May 19: A very panoramic ramble that from Baħrija descends the valley towards Fomm ir-Riħ and on to Ras il-Pellegrin promontary, with excellent views of Ġnejna bay, Ras il-Karraba, Għajn Tuffieħa bay, and the Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs as backdrop. After a break at Ġnejna bay the ascent starts through a hidden track back up to Fomm ir-Riħ and further on to the chapel of Il-Kuċizzjoni before reaching Baħrija again. The moderate to hard and long ramble kicks off from Baħrija Square near the children’s playground.

May 26: A countryside ramble around the natural outskirts of Birżebbuġa taking in the cultural remains of Borgin-Nadur, the valley in Tal-Papa area and old lanes as far as Għar Ħasan, Delimara fort and Kalafrana. The meeting point for the moderate to hard walk is near Al Fresco Restaurant, in Birżebbuġa.

May 29: A ramble that hugs the coast between Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk and tracks quaint country lanes and paths, starting from near the Marsaxlokk parish church.

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

The panoramic setting of the chapel of Our Lady of Victories in Mtaħleb.The panoramic setting of the chapel of Our Lady of Victories in Mtaħleb.

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