The Maltese spring is a truly great time to be out and about in the open countryside. It’s the time when nature peaks with an abundance of flora in full bloom – a sort of last hooray before the hotter months signal most plant life’s slow retreat into the summer torpor.
One great and very accessible place to witness this colourful feast and the sense of the wild, with the added bonus of great open views, is a ramble around the lovely bay of Ghajn Tuffieha – arguably Malta’s most scenic beach, guarded by one of the seemingly ubiquitous coastal towers.
At the edge of the bay’s car park there are two paths – one down to the bay proper and another slightly to its left which climbs to skirt the cliffs encircling the bay. Take the latter one, which winds uphill with the bay below to your right and an acacia grove to your left. At the top of this low hill the bay stretches out before you in all its glory. Follow the path, downhill now, through yet another wooded area – an ideal secluded picnic site.
A wall of cliffs appears before you here but the path takes a left turn which eventually leads to the top with relative ease. More 360 degree views open from up here – inland towards the scenic Ghajn Tuffieha road and the ridge of hills beyond, and south towards a colorful expanse of garigue and the Lippija tower guarding Gnejna bay in the distance. Walking along the cliff edge will get you to the tower in less than twenty minutes. It’s a well defined path with grand views of the promontory known as Il-Karraba with its curious table top summit, and open vistas of the steep clay slopes below. On the landward side is a riot of flowers – not least a good variety of orchid species.
Reaching Lippija tower the views now stretch out on the tiny bay of Gnejna and the array of valleys leading down to it – a vast and surprising expanse of green for an island which is relatively dry and has too many buildings for its own good…
Lippija tower, like the one at Ghajn Tuffieha Bay was used primarily as a permanent look out post in those faraway days when danger meant a line of Ottoman ships on the horizon. Both towers form part of a series of such fortifications built by the Knights for this primary purpose.
From the tower one can retrace steps to go back to Ghajn Tuffieha – the views are good enough for a repeat performance. If you are without a car you can take a track leading from the tower which eventually gets you to the village of Mgarr, a 30 minute easy walk with more open views.