Saturday, 25 October 2008

Mtahleb and Ras id-Dawwara 25 October 2008

Today’s walk (25th October) was fully subscribed and all participants were punctual so we could set off right on time at 9.00. The forecast did not foresee any showers but the air was still rather crisp then and several of us put on a light jacket. Half an hour later all had taken it off and rolled up their sleeves. The day turned out to be glorious.

Foreign walk leaders (or shall we say “semi-Maltese”) were Bertus Zuijdgeest, a Dutchman who has been living in Malta for the last seven years, assisted by our Irish friend Maura Marlow. At the assembly point, in the car park near Migra il-Ferha (Mtahleb) Bertus briefly introduced themselves, welcomed the participants and explained where the walk would take us and a few basic rules (like not to create a big gap from the one walking in front of you otherwise the group could stretch out too much) and some sound pieces of advice (like not to walk along the path near the cliff edge as it could be very slippery at this time of the year).

Along the route which took us to the spectacular Dahlet id-Dwieb (plural of ‘debba’, a mare) a participant, taking the cue from another member who had told us what he knew about the etymology of ‘Migra l-Ferha’, informed the group of the event, or legend, which had given origin to this place name. Unfortunately no one could do the same with names like “Ras id-Dawwara “, the promontory on the left of Dahlet id-Dwieb, or of the rocks a little further on known as Il-Qaws, or of “Imtahleb”. But even Prof. Aquilina does not offer any help in this respect (he says that it comes from ‘haleb’; but probably most of us would have guessed that). A friend has now offered to look up these place names in Prof. G. Wettinger’s works.

We walked to the other side of this inlet surrounded by impressive cliffs. From there we had a frontal view of the two giant caves at sea level. The dark openings of the caves framed from above by the whiteness of the cliffs and a clear blue sky, and from below by a calm blue sea was indeed a beautiful sight. We proceeded inland to take a good look at the biggish rock-cut cave with niches and a sort of stone bed (Is this Ghar Doson?) which reminds one of the cave at Ras il-Wardija in Gozo. Again no one knew whether this was part of our archaeological heritage or a more recent undertaking.

Then we started climbing up towards Mtahleb. At this point we had a good overview of all the cliff face from Ta-Baldu till Imtahleb. The highlight in that panorama is the Mtahleb chapel precariously balanced on the cliff edge, and the rock-cut caves which formerly were inhabited and some of which still serve for storage purposes.

We then crossed part of Wied Ilma (aka Wied ir-Rum [Valley of the Roman?) and Wied Markozz and along footpaths made our way back to the starting point. It was 11.15 when we were back.

The terrain here was quite easy-going except for some rough terrain and steep but not too long incline. We had two short breaks for a quick snack, to take photos and, above all, to take in the peace and beauty of this very scenic and remote part of the island

Walk Leaders: Bertus and Maura, assisted by Joe Agius.

Some photos below, courtesy of our intrepid photographer, Silvan Mugliett

And yet more photos below, this time courtesy of our older photographer, Joe.

And a couple more photos below, courtesy of Maura

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