The trail sets off along an ancient cobbled winding road. This reputedly Roman road is probably the oldest route leading to the north of the island and was likely the earliest access to the equally ancient Marian shrine at Mellieha – traditionally linked with Saint Luke, who together with the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked here in 60 AD.
A handful of interesting features mark this short stretch of road. Most intriguing is a wall of apiaries in a clearing at the side of the track. Malta was well known in ancient times for the quality of its honey and the apiaries here – thought to be of Punic or Roman origin – seem to testify to that claim. Nearby is a massive and much weathered standing stone (menhir) associated with Malta’s temple culture, and standing proudly at the bend in the road is a massive 1000 year old carob tree – considered to be the oldest in the islands - with an impressive trunk over seven metres in circumference and roots which go deep into the soil and break through the rocks beneath it. Past the carob is an open cave with clear signs of burial niches inside. Used since prehistoric times, the cave’s façade collapsed over time and the cave was then likely used as a shelter by pilgrims along this road.
The road now stops its winding way and levels out on to a flat expanse of land. There is more of interest here. Some way along the now straight road and to the right is a well preserved Punic tomb – curiously the only one on this plateau. Nearby are a couple of spacious caves with inner divisory walls made of rubble. These are troglodytic caves used both for human and animal habitation. As elsewhere in the Mediterranean, troglodytism was not uncommon in the Maltese islands and the practice was only eradicated completely in the colonial era when the British forced the evacuation of the last known troglodytic community at Ghar il-Kbir in the limits of Dingli.
In the vicinity are also a set of prehistoric tombs dating from around 3600 BC. These were excavated in 1956 and yielded a rich collection of prehistoric material – including pottery now in the National Archaeology Museum in Valletta. Cart ruts – those mysterious rock-hewn sets of tracks so common in many places in Malta and thought to date to the Bronze Age – also make an appearance here.
On the trek back and more or less opposite the first Punic tomb and troglodyte cave is the remnant of a megalithic temple. Interpretation is difficult from the little that remains but the large rocks form an apse similar to other temple sites.
All major features of the trail have informative signs which help with interpretation. But really this heritage trail amounts to more than the sum of its parts. It is set mostly on high ground in an idyllic garigue landscape which from autumn to early summer teems with a variety of plant life including a clutch of attractive orchid species in spring. The views from this high ridge over much of northern Malta are also another fair reward for the visitor. Further wandering is also an option - there are easy to follow trails that from the nearby woodland lead to the picturesque village of Manikata about a mile away.