GITH Magazine has teamed up with the Galea family to share four kid-friendly hiking routes along with top tips and fascinating facts about Gozo.
There is nothing better than hiking on Gozo in the winter. We have a warmer climate than most of Europe, plenty of sunshine and views to die for. Even when it’s wet and windy – a walk around Gozo will no doubt raise your spirits.
The winter months tend to put us off going outdoors, especially with those strong northerly prevailing winds and occasional rain. If you add getting out with babies and young children to the mix, it can seem like an insurmountable challenge, even when we know it’s what we should be doing! On Gozo, we experience first-hand the healing power of nature and how invigorating it can be, but what we forget is that it should absolutely be experienced most when you least feel the urge.
GITH Magazine, along with Offdisland Family adventure challenge you to blow away the cobwebs and embrace the contrast of the winter freshness to the baking summer sun. We dare you to reverse your thinking and swap the sofa for fresh air and invite you and your family to suck up Gozo’s luscious green winter coat and venture out on foot to capture this unique stunning scenery on our doorstep.
meet your guides: the galea family
Meet the Galea family. Their life mission is to inspire families to experience Gozo in all weathers and offer practical tips to make the most out of your island hikes.
Between working as an engineer and taking care of her two toddlers you’ll typically find Therese behind the camera and laptop writing up exciting hiking posts. Her husband Joseph spends more time above the clouds than on the ground, as he works as an airline pilot. When he’s grounded, he entertains the kids and makes plans for their upcoming adventures. They both crave spending time outdoors exploring the natural environment, and their children have started to enjoy it too. They both hail from the same village in Gozo and love to explore new corners of their home island. Since having children they were determined to adapt and find ways to continue hiking, camping, and other outdoor pursuits, understanding the benefits of being nature for our wellbeing. A silver lining of the pandemic meant they have spent more time exploring what’s on our doorstep and below, they share their first hike with us.
hike 1 Northwest Gozo
Location: Wied il-Mielah to San Dimitri chapel Time: 1-1.5 hour approximately with return Distance: 3.4km Difficulty: Easy
This area of Gozo is extremely picturesque, but you may not have ever walked from the Instagram-famous window at Wied il-Mielah to San Dimitri chapel. This hike is very easy and in case you’re not keen on carrying the baby in a baby carrier, you can do it with a buggy/pushchair as the path is paved; the only difficulty is the uphill change of elevation of 73m on your way to San Dimitri chapel.
To start off, get in your car, put “Wied il-Mielah” as your destination on Google maps, and on arrival park close by. If you would like to have a closer look at the natural window, you can do so by walking down a flight of steps. Please do hold your little one’s hands as the railing has wide gaps at some points. Once you’re up close to the window, you will appreciate its grandiosity.
The nearby cliffs host a small colony of breeding pairs of a Mediterranean endemic seabird, the Yelkouan Shearwater as well as a colony of Scopoli Shearwater. The latter are globally threatened. The predation of eggs and chicks by rats is a major threat to seabird species, so please dispose of litter, even organic waste, properly!
Walk back to the main path and start walking towards Gharb for around 15 minutes. Make sure to take the first right turn (hint: there’s a small tower like building in this Y-junction) and continue following the sign towards the chapel from there on. The uphill mini challenge starts now; it’s a short and sweet path so nothing to worry about.
After 15-20 minutes you will get a glimpse of the 15th century chapel. The exact date of construction is unknown, but a report by the inquisitor of Malta Pietro Dusina refers to it in 1575, mentioning that it was rebuilt in 1736. The chapel is surrounded by a large patio-like area. There are also picnic benches next to the chapel, making it the ideal spot for a snack break – and hey, there are beautiful countryside views of the Gozitan countryside! If you’re lucky, you might see sheep grazing close-by as well!
After the well-deserved break, walk back to your car through the same route. It’s all downhill or flat, making it easy on your stomach.
The chapel has a renowned legend behind it. The legend states that an old woman named Zgugina lived with her only son close to the chapel. She prayed every day for protection from the pirates that were a constant threat at the time. One day a pirate ship landed close to Gharb, attacked the village and took Zgugina’s son as a slave. Zgugina went to the chapel and prayed in front of the paint of San Dimitri vowing that if he gets back her son, she would light him a votive lamp every single day. The legend continues that she saw the chapel’s painting moving, out came San Dimitri on the horse and went after the ship to pick up her son. Zgugina kept on praying and after a while, he came back with her son. Another legend which compliments the first one, states that an earthquake hit the island, and the chapel fell into the sea undamaged, with fishermen still seeing the light from Zgugina’s candle from underwater. So… will you get out on that boat and search for the votive’s light?
We really hope you enjoy this beautiful walk. Remember to take some snaps and tag @githmagazine on your socials. The second hike in this winter adventure series will be published end of January. Happy hiking!
Hike Author and Images: Therese Galea