Monday, 23 October 2017

Ahrax Tower (The White Tower) Mellieha - Malta 1 Oct 2017

Ahrax Tower (The White Tower)
Distance 10.5km Climb 140m
Sunday 1 October 2017

I saw this route while looking at the map following our walks to St Agatha's Tower (The Red Tower), and Cirkewwa to Mellieha Bay earlier this holiday. Also following a visit to the Tourist Information Offices in Medina, I picked up a number of walking leaflets. One leaflet included this as part of a walking route. With only a couple of days left of our holiday we decided to do it. Mind as it was easier to get the bus out and walk back we did the walk in reverse to the leaflet direction. 

We left the hotel and walked to the main road to catch the first bus, which was the 42, towards Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal. Leaving the bus a couple of stops before the Ferry Terminal we crossed the road at the junction and turned eastwards. At the side of the road we passed what is shown on the map as a battery overlooking the South Comino Channel. Dark clouds were gathering and the wind was picking up.

We walked down the gentle slope towards the Riviera Hotel, passing a stall selling nic-naks, where Anne had to stop for a look. In the distance we could see Ahrax Tower (The White Tower)

At the bottom of the bank we walked around the Marfa Quay, which I believe was where the Gozo Ferry used to sail from before the Ferry Terminal was built at Cirkewwa. 

Another large hotel stood across the bay, walking to the right of this hotel we followed the road. Across the fields to our right we could see St Agatha's Tower (The Red Tower).

At the road junction we turned down to our left back to the coast and walked by some beach huts in Ramlet il-Qortin. 

Once around the bay we were in an area of small residential and holiday homes. Some people were sitting out on their verandas, drinking coffee, listening to music and watching the day go by. A gentle climb away from the bay.

At the top of the small rise we took the road to the left heading towards Ahrax Towerwhich we could see in the distance.

Rather than follow the road to our right, we took some steps down onto a promenade by the side of Armier Bay. 

Turning right we followed the promenade by the side of the bay, passed a cafe/bar onto the sand. We could that very few people were out today as there were a lot of empty sun loungers under the yellow umbrellas. 

Leaving the sand we climbed to the road by a large defensive wall and continued left. Across the sea to our left, the South Comino Channel, we could see Comino and the Santa Maria Battery. A place we had walked the other day on our walk around the Island of Comino.

Crossing a boat slip way, we took the road uphill away from Armier Bay. We could hear families gathering in the houses and holiday homes for Sunday. 

At the top we turned right and walked a few meters. We should have turned left. After retracing our steps we walked back down to what had been our left and followed the large defensive wall. Unfortunately we were now on the inside of the wall and we should have been on the outside. 

Never mind, we soon found a way over it, and arrived in another area of small houses and holiday homes. Dark clouds were gathering as we walked down to the bay.

Reaching the bay Ir-Ramla tat-Torri we turned right until we reached a small cafe near a sandy beach. Time for a short rest and a coffee.

Across the South Comino Channel we could see the Comino Tower, and further beyond I believe is the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Mgarr on the Island of Gozo.

A few people sat on the sand, we were used to seeing crowds and were a little surprised to see the beaches so empty, perhaps it was the dark clouds. We still found it warm, with occasional bright bursts of sunlight.

After our coffee we walked along the sandy beach, joining a road that led us around the bay. Instead of turning up a road to our right towards the Tower we continued following the road around the coast. We could see nearly all of the Island of Comino with the Island of Gozo behind.

The road becomes a rough track following around the coast. After a short while we turned right and found a narrow, rough path across the garrigue that took us up to Ahrax Tower (The White Tower), the internet shows this Tower is known by a few different names. Armier Tower being another. 

Looking north west we could see Comino Tower.

Looking south west we could see St Agatha's Tower (The Red Tower). We could also see there was a tower to our south east, across St Paul's Bay. All of the Towers were in line of sight and could communicate with each other passing warnings of invasion back to Valletta.

From the Ahrax Tower we walked down the road and joined the road we had ignored earlier when we continued walking along by the bay. Turning left we followed the road down to a large residential and mobile caravan site, with a large fence.

We followed the road as it turned right, and we started a gentle climb south east.

We passed a couple of pillboxes.

Along the road we started walking passed picnic areas where I believe wattle and olive trees provided shelters and it looked like families had gathered to eat and drink and spend time together.

At the top of the road we turned left and walked along a new road, more wattle and olive trees provided shelter for family groups. After a few hundred meters we reached the Immaculate Conception Chapel. The cliffs in the area are called The Cliffs of Our Lady.

Taking a few minutes we went in, it was nice and peaceful inside.

Signs show the original Chapel nearly fell into the sea and has been rebuilt further from the edge.

Walking to the statue of Our Lady, I could see cracks in the rock. A memorial stone to Marc Bradshaw is a reminder how dangerous the cliffs are here.  

After a few minutes we turned and walked back along the road south westerly. On the way I would stop and walk near to the edge to get some photos.

Looking into the Mellieha Bay we could see a fish farm. Information shows this area of cliff is called Donkey's Cliffs.

The road runs along the Marfa Ridge and gives great views right, looking across to Comino and Gozo. Left we were looking across to Mellieha Town and its large parish church. On our way we passed this converted pillbox.

As we were walking along the Marfa Ridge, it was turning warmer. The dark clouds that had been threatening all day disappeared.

Also a number of the local corbelled huts.

At the top of the road we reached the roundabout near the wayside shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows. We had walked passed this shrine on a couple of our other walks, links above. Turning left we followed the road down hill.

This had been another good day walking. We had covered 10.5km with a 140m climb. Today was going to be our last walk in Malta this holiday. Hopefully it will not be our last ever.

There was time to find some shade and have a couple of shandies, followed by a relaxing swim.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to previous walk in Malta The Victoria Lines 30 Sept 2017.  

Friday, 20 October 2017

Victoria Lines - Malta 30 Sept 2017

Victoria Lines
Distance 14km Climb 250m
Saturday 30 September 2017

This was another of the walks I had been looking forward to. We had passed views of this walk on our bus journey each time we had travelled to and from Valletta. Today was the day we were doing Walk 7 from the booklet Malta 10 Great Walks. If you would like a copy of the booklet then please follow the link.  The booklet gives a good description of routes and points out loads of interesting information. I am writing the basic details of our walk, it would be wrong of me to copy all of the information from the booklet. I would recommend this booklet to anyone interested in doing this walk.

The Victoria Lines run across Malta, the booklet advises this walk covers approximately half of it.

We took the number 42 bus down the road from the hotel to Mosta. As always I took loads of photos but I have only included a few of them here. Before starting the walk we spent some time in the Parish Church in Mosta, a very interesting place. The booklet has a lot of information on this Church.  

Leaving the Church we walked back up the road the way the bus had brought us into Mosta. 

We continued northwards across the Speranza Valley. Crossing straight over a roundabout, the walk turns right passed a wind driven pump. Leaving Anne for a few minutes I continued along the main road to look at the pillbox bus stop.

I had a look over what I believe is the Targa Gap and St Joseph with the baby Jesus.

Returning back to the Triq Misrah Ghonoq I rejoined Anne and we walked a few hundred meters before taking the steps down to the left onto the wall.

After a few hundred meters, I left Anne again to take a quick look at the entrance of the underground NATO facility.

Rejoining Anne we continued along the wall, we walked as far as we could to Fort Mosta. Anne stayed on the path while I had a quick look at the views from the pillbox and a little beyond.

Back on the wall with Anne, we followed the booklet which recommends backtracking a little and taking a path up to our left. This took us up to the main public road. Turning left we walked down the road to cross directly over a roundabout, and onto a high bridge which we used to cross over the Wied il-Ghasel.

Over the bridge we turned right heading towards Mosta, after a few hundred meters we saw the path, stone steps dropping down to our right. There is also a big red arrow sprayed onto the path.

The steps took us down the side of the gorge and we followed the path under the bridge we had just walked over.

Continuing along the path we crossed the stream bed and walked up to the chapel in the cave. The booklet describes the chapel as wonderful and recommends looking through the door. From what I could see through the door the booklet is correct, it was wonderful.

After a short rest we returned back along the path, under the road bridge.

Climbed the steep steps up the side of the gorge.

Turning left to walk along the road back to the bridge. We continued straight on following the road. After a few hundred meters we came to another feature mentioned in the booklet.

Our walk was now along a very busy road, no pavement, and to be honest not very pleasant. At a major roundabout I walked left downhill a short distance to see a restored Second World War pillbox.

Returning back to the major roundabout I turned left where I met Anne who had walked straight ahead.

Following the directions in the booklet we turned left and crossed the garrigue to reach the wall of the Victoria Lines.

I must say it was fascinating walking along here. The booklet describes this part of the walk as "Exciting isn't it?" I thought it was brilliant and made the walk along the road well worth it.

We followed the wall along, and I noticed many red arrows painted on stones. At the top there is a road where mature skateboarders were practising. After crossing the road there is now a beautiful secluded park, where we had a short rest.

The booklet recommends walking through the park on the upper road, and points out more features. All very interesting.

I had left Anne in the park. Returning we continued down the road where the skateboarders had been and passed an area of caves and an early Christian shrine.

At the valley bottom we worked our way east.

Turned left, northwards at an old Church.

Passed this interesting looking building.

Before we reached a very busy main road.

After a short distance we had reached the finish of the walk and rewarded ourselves with a couple of cold shandies.

After our cold shandies, we crossed the road and waited for a bus. We did not have long to wait before the 222 came and took us back to our hotel. 

We had covered 14km with 250m climb. Another good walk from the booklet Malta 10 Great WalksI would recommend checking out this link to anyone interested in doing any walking in Malta. 

Unfortunately this was our last walk from the booklet Malta 10 Great Walks on this holiday. We had only done 7 of the 10 walks. We are already talking about going back to Malta to do the other 3 walks from this booklet and possibly more from one of the other booklets shown on this website.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to my previous walk in Malta The Island of Comino 28 Sept 2017.
Follow link to my next walk in Malta  Ahrax Tower (The White Tower) Mellieha 1 Oct 2017.