The article below first appeared in the October 2012 issue of Air Malta's inflight magazine Skytime. I am pleased to reconnect in a small way with the airline which was my employer for nearly thirty years.
Virtually all of Gozo is good walking country and the villages themselves provide plenty of colour and contrasts for the more sedate rambler. But the wilder parts of Gozo are more rewarding if you’re up to it. Most of the coast of Gozo is walkable and offers a variety of scenery including majestic cliffs, ancient salt pens, well hidden inlets, and of course sweeping sea vistas.
One of the more rewarding treks in Gozo is the stretch of coast between Ramla l-Hamra and Marsalforn, an area generically known as Ghajn Barrani. This area is made up mostly of clay slopes with a few boulder screes in places and is hemmed in by cliff tops to the south and the sea to the north. This area now also enjoys legal protection as a Natura 2000 site, part of an EU-wide network covering important natural sites showcasing Europe’s rich biodiversity.
Starting from Ramla l-Hamra one finds a trek at the bay’s western end which leads to a smaller sandy cove ringed by steep clay sides. Since shoreline progress beyond this cove is not feasible, this is the cue to start the upward trudge up the slope and this can be quite breathtaking – though not quite in the way this walk is meant to be!
Reaching the top of the slope, take time to enjoy the panoramic view of now distant Ramla . From here progress is easier as it’s a downhill walk and if you look closely enough there is a well trodden path which makes picking one’s way much easier. The open seaward views here are incredible and there is little if any sign of human habitation.
Next to come into view some way below is the imposing white cliff known as Ghar Qawqla. By now you are approaching the touristic hub of Marsalforn and a southbound track will eventually get you on the road leading down to the seaside town’s promenade.
If this two to three hour trek has not tired you out you might well take time to enjoy a beachside drink at Marsalforn and then keep following the shore until you leave town. There are two pretty inlets here, the miniscule Qbajjar Bay and immediately next to it Xwejni Bay with its imposing clay stack jutting above a limestone cliff. From here a lonely shore road leads past numerous salt pans carved long ago in the soft limestone. Before the road winds its way up to the hilltop village of Zebbug, a peek at the dramatic fjord-like inlet of Wied il-Ghasri is definitely worth a short detour.