This was a remarkable leg of the circumnavigation, for several reasons. It was the longest of the walks so far, approximately 5 hours and 19km in length and contained by far the most strenuous section I have completed. More photographs were taken than on any other part. It included the sparse clifftops of the far Northwest of the Island and overall was one of the best walks of the whole journey.
Having given up on the section between Ġnejna and Għajn Tuffieħa at the end of the last section, I was determined to persist and complete this part by the “low route”, keeping as close to the water as possible. In the event I was glad that I went this way, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a very interesting section of coastline and secondly, it confirmed that I should never take friends by this route – it’s simply too tough. In particular the scramble up the clay slopes by Il-Karraba is steep and crumbly underfoot. I needed to use a trekking pole (fully collapsed) and dig it in for every two steps taken – just like ice-axe technique! By the time I reached the top my legs felt like jelly. This was followed by an immediate steep descent to the lovely Għajn Tuffieħa beach only to climb straight back up the long series of steps to the top. Only 45 minutes into to the longest section and I was feeling completely exhausted!
Recovery was relatively quick and after a brief visit to the Għajn Tuffieħa knight’s tower, I headed on into the Il-Majjistral nature and history park and the cliff top of Ras il-Waħx (“Ogre’s Head”).
Carrying on along the magnificent coastline, I eventually arrived at the controversial Għajn Żnuber (“Pine Tree Spring”) “tower”. This was almost certainly not built by the Knights of St John but was perhaps an observation station or hunting turret dating from the 18th or even a late as the 19th Century.
At Anchor Bay we find the delightfully incongruous “Popeye Village”, originally the set for the 1980 Robin Williams version of Popeye which failed at the box office but has left the legacy of a popular children’s destination in Malta.
After more desolate but stunning coastline I eventually arrived at the day’s destination, the rather alarmingly named Ras il-Qammieħ (“Jumper’s Head”) with dramatic views across the Gozo Channel, to Comino and Gozo. We are now on the Marfa Ridge, the most Northerly of the succession of EW ridges which span this part of Malta. The end of a great walk which will no doubt become a favourite, like Wied iż-Żurrieq to Għar Lapsi, to be repeated many times. For a full account of this walk see the captions on the photo journey.