Around twenty-four Ramblers took up the challenge for a late afternoon walk at a time when half of Europe is sweltering in sub-tropical temperatures. Thankfully the day's highest temperature was 32 deg C and by the time the group set-off, a breeze of sorts was blowing.
From Bahrija Square the group made its way down across Bahrija Valley - one of the few localities where a permanent spring still runs. The valley is also home to one of the very few populations of the endemic freshwater crab (potamon fluviale ssp.lanfrancoi) - a vulnerable and legally protected species.
Upon reaching the southern arm of the valley we made a brief stop to await the arrival of Lino Bugeja and Alex Vella who were accompanied by none other than Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi and Mrs. Kate Gonzi. In a very brief address Lino welcomed the Gonzis on their first RAM ramble - adding that it is RAM's honour to show the couple a veritably majestic area of the Maltese outdoors. Dr. Gonzi intimated that it was Kate Gonzi's birthday today and a warm cheer from the group welcomed this bit of news. It has to be said here that RAM's hard-working secretary, Alex Vella, has for some time had contacts with the OPM on issues relating to countryside access to specific areas, and it was through these contacts that the PM expressed an interest to join on one of RAM's walks in his personal capacity.
The group then started the descent towards Blata tal-Melћ with its ancient set of salt pans. Both of our special guests admitted that they had never visited this remote point. As always on our walks in the area a brief stop was made here - both to catch our collective breaths and to take in the views - admittedly a rather arid landscape at this time of year but with the limestone cliffs turning a beautiful honey hue as the sun was setting. Dr. Gonzi even took the time to chat with a group of surprised fishermen on their way to a night's fishing from the rocks, while Kate Gonzi mingled freely with ramblers - a majority of whom were female on this particular walk. Male ramblers are more averse to the summer heat it seems.
The group then made its way up via the same route and then threaded up to il-Qlejgha tal-Bahrija - a raised plateau containing the remains of Malta's largest Bronze Age settlement. The unique site is effectively (and unfortunately) off-limits - a point which was well stressed to Dr.Gonzi.
After descending il-Qlejgha it was time for the Gonzis to be on their way and they bid farewell to the group while the rest made their way across the valley to return to Bahrija with the help of a couple of torches and a nearly full moon.