The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Hiking with kids: 5 family-friendly treks in Malta just 90 minutes (or less)

Sunday, 7 June 2020, 12:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Therese Galea

Lately, we've all had time to slow down, stop and observe. Observe our way of life, our surroundings. Personally, we have had the opportunity to go out and explore the outdoors more. We have become obsessed with nature and its beauty, more so because of how it benefits the whole family.

Having experienced travelling with kids, we know how important timing is. Children tend to get bored easily doing the same activity. Thus we are sharing with you five hikes, with amazing coastal and countryside views of Malta and Gozo, all of which are well-suited for families with young kids (we did ours with a walking 2-year-old and a 9-month old in a baby-carrier), and most importantly all can be done within 90 minutes or less. For some of the hikes, we are including optional add-on trails which you might be interested in following if you are kid-free or have older kids accompanying you.

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We have devised a ranking system for each hike to help you choose one depending on your mood and energy levels. The icon shows the approximate duration of the round-trip hike (with young children like ours - it will be faster if you have older kids), KM shows the distance in kilometres, and ⛰️ shows the difficulty level (1 being the easiest, 5 being the hardest). Don't be discouraged by the trails which are marked as being more difficult - we managed to do them, so you can too!



1.         Filfla from afar

: 1.5 hours; KM: 3.7; ⛰️: 2/5

This trail starts from the parking area in Mtaħleb (limits of Rabat), taking the direction southwards towards Filfla. The most difficult part of this trail are the first few metres - there is a very short but steep incline. After that, it is relatively flat and the path easily identifiable, making it a relaxing walk with cliff edge and coastal views.

Look out for: Filfla, a small islet, which is also the most southerly point of the Maltese archipelago.

 

2.         The cat wind vane

: 45 minutes; KM: 1.3; ⛰️: 1/5

You'll know you have arrived at the trail's starting point Fomm ir-Riħ, limits of Mġarr, when you see a giant cat figure on a wind vane. Take a moment to relax - driving down the road leading to this popular spot can be quite breathtaking given all its twists and turns. So get out of the car and soak in the view. I personally would rate this point as one of my favourite viewpoints, unparalleled with other points in Malta. Start walking northwards towards the cliff edge; be careful, as the first part of the trail, although wide, is a shared path between hikers and cars.

Add-on (optional): get off the main path and walk downhill to get better views of the beach. Sunset views are spectacular here, so make sure you grab a drink and some snacks and wait until the sun sets (that is, if the kids allow you to!). Note that to get to a good spot closer to the secluded beach, you will need to hike downhill, which is doable, but one needs to be a bit more cautious. (NB: You cannot access the beach from here; access is only possible by driving through Baħrija).

Look out for: Cart ruts on the cliff edge, herd of sheep, a rooster or two.



3.         Honey-making land

:1.5 hours; KM: 2.5; ⛰️: 3/5

The Mġiebaħ Heritage Trail in Xemxija has a unique collection of historical elements - apiaries (in Maltese mġiebaħ, hence the name), Roman baths, Roman roads, prehistoric tombs and caves - spread over a large area of land, making it ideal for a family outing. Placards are found along the route, providing information on these historical remains. Olive trees surround some of the paths, providing some shade from the scorching sun and making them ideal for a quick drink break.

Look out for: what is touted as the oldest carob tree in the Maltese islands (estimated to be 1,000 years old).

Add-on (optional): Although we are marking the route which takes you through the apiaries, along the Roman Road to the Roman baths, there are numerous sidewalks you can take to see the other attractions mentioned above. Check out the signs and follow them to get to the attractions which you are most eager to see!



4.         The Bible-famous shipwreck point

:1 hour; KM: 1.4; ⛰️: 4/5

Drive through the mystical bay of Mistra in Xemxija. Once you reach the Mistra tower, park your car and get ready for an uphill trek. The paths are mostly gravel-based, so make sure you put on a good pair of shoes. Our two-year-old managed to do this hike practically on her own (with our guidance of course, but without any one of us holding her hands!) Walk towards St Paul's statue, which is located on St Paul's Islands, traditionally identified as the spot of the shipwreck of Paul the apostle.

Look out for: Salt pans (to the left of the islands)

 

5.         'Game of Thrones' famous views

:1.15 hour; KM: 4.0; ⛰️: 4/5

Have you ever been to San Raflu Lake in Santa Luċija, one of Gozo's smallest hamlets? Most probably yes, but it's unlikely you have ever gone beyond - Ras il-Wardija, San Lawrenz (Gozo). This trail is relatively flat and the path is clearly visible for most of the trek. There are however some points where you need to climb up or down. Most of the path is along the cliff's edge, giving you spectacular views of Dwejra, the place which once hosted the Game of Thrones famous Azure window and the Fungus rock. Late afternoon trips make it ideal for sunset views.

Look out for: Punic Temple at Ras il-Wardija

Note: This historical site is situated on private land and contact should be made with the owners prior to visiting, using the email address: [email protected]

 

Surviving tantrums

So, ready, set... and your little one starts crying, screaming or acting moody. And you sincerely hope with all your heart that it is not a tantrum. If you're a parent to a toddler you know that tantrums can happen everywhere and quite unexpectedly sometimes too. Tantrums have accompanied us on some walks, so we are sharing some tips on how to make the walk bearable, to say the least!

Stop, and try and understand what's the issue. Is it because they got hurt? Is it because they cannot handle any more walking? It usually is a simple matter, which can be resolved with some empathy from the parents.

Distract them - We find it helpful in shortening a tantrum. Be it a favourite drink or snack, or an activity they like to do or an insect or animal they love. Our toddler is fixated with cats, so we either pretend to have spotted one and start looking for it or if we're lucky enough we actually spot one!

Whatever the results of your actions, keep your cool. It might take a while for them to return to their usual self. Patience is key.

 

Therese Galea is a blogger on Colour my Travel's blog: @offdisland.

 

Colour my Travel also organises educational tours for families and children.

www.colourmytravel.com
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