Typically the best walking treks in the Maltese islands are not signposted – which is not such a bad thing when you think about it as the result is that the most stunning and remoter corners of the islands remain relatively little visited – a welcome state of affairs in one of the most crowded countries in the world…
The Ghajn Barrani area in Gozo is one such haven – a wide corridor of scenic clay slopes wedged between the cliff tops and the blue sea and located between the popular Ramla l-Hamra Bay and the resort of Marsalforn.
The trek starts from Ramla – a track near the beach bars leads away from the sand past a few boulders and to a quieter, smaller sandy cove. Tempting though the cove might be the next move is going up the steep clay slopes…not a terribly high slope but it can be slightly exerting. At the top look back to admire Ramla from some distance – and in the opposite direction the clay slopes stretching to the flat rocks of the Ghajn Barrani beach. Make your way to this beach about 30 or 40 minutes away – mercifully it’s all downhill now making it easier to take in the unfolding beautiful vistas.
The beach itself is a gem with huge boulders affording some shade. A great place to just stop and stare – and if the sea is warm and calm enough make time for a quick dip too. There are of course no amenities of any sort here – but of course this is a huge part of the place’s undoubted magic. This is nature as wild as it gets in the Maltese islands. There is a rare year-round spring here too, though it is reduced to a trickle in the summer months: legend has it that pirates used this cove as a hideaway and watering hole on their raids on the islands long ago – Ghajn Barrani roughly translates as the outsiders’ spring.
The onward trek to Marsalforn trails off from the beach and is relatively easy to find and follow, rough in a few places but otherwise etched in the clay by the steps of previous trekkers. There is some climbing but the gradients are gentle and not taxing. The next landmark appears about a half hour later – the beach at Ghar Qawqla with its stunning white shore is down below – tantalising enough but not actually reachable from the slopes. In fact the trek moves inland from here – a more or less straight run that will get you on the outskirts of Marsalforn – and back to civilization.
The Ghajn Barrani trek can be completed easily in about three hours. Sensible walking shoes are essential and some areas may be slippery and wet (but still relatively safe) after heavy rains. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has scheduled Ghajn Barrani as an Area of Ecological Importance, Site of Scientific Importance and Area of High Landscape Value.