time to explore with esplora
SELMUN AND L-IMĠIEBAĦ
Words by Nathaniel Attard
The warming spring sun welcomes you to enjoy the northern regions of Malta, and what better place for this than the Selmun area? The area is the perfect combination of a nature walk near the sea, as well as an opportunity to glimpse at the past.
Follow the signs from Mellieħa bus stop towards Selmun and start your journey from Selmun palace. On the way, take a moment to enjoy the picturesque landscape, which overlooks Mistra Bay and in the distance, the outlines of Buġibba and St. Paul’s Bay.
The baroque palace, which resembles Verdala Palace and watches over Mistra Bay, was built in the 18th century and served only as a summer residence for the Knights. Believe it or not, there is a rumour that a ghost used to appear in the small bell tower of said palace!
A stone’s throw away from this towering building is where you can discover the remains of a typical rural farmhouse complex, an old well, used for collecting rainwater and Roman beehives.
Due to crossroads being an indispensable part of life, while admiring Selmun Palace, you’ll be faced with a crucial decision. Will you opt to explore the area in a peaceful, more relaxed manner, or rather, would you accept the challenge of a more adventurous trek?
Following the signs to the left, towards Selmun beach and Imġiebaħ Bay, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll on the winding paved road, fenced in between typical Maltese rubble walls.
Looking around, you will certainly realise that spring on the Maltese Islands has arrived. The air is filled with the aroma of French Daffodil and Southern Flax. Here, you can also see the re-introduced Pine Trees. Along the way, under the road across the valley, there are three arched tunnels, which collect rainwater and are used by the farmers of the region.
Just before reaching the beach, you’ll see the pill-box, which was set up during WWII as a precaution against unexpected attacks. The rubble stones hide the solid concrete walls and the few openings in them suggest that that’s where machine guns and rifles were placed over 60 years ago.
The Selmun beach itself, offers a tranquil place where you can enjoy peace of mind and a chance to admire the sea.
Just in case you’ve decided to continue the journey from Selmun Palace and explore the area off the beaten track, we hope you didn’t forget your hiking shoes! The narrow, rural country road, surrounded by neat little farmlands with quaint farmhouses and flower-covered meadows, leads to the ruin of the impressive Fort Campbell: the last major fortification built in Malta, which now sadly watches over the northern parts of the country.
From here, you should come across another off-road track, which heads towards Mistra Bay.
Suddenly, you’ll have a magnificent panoramic view of the terrace-shaped landscape that surrounds you. It’s so green following some rain that it will make you wonder whether you’re still in Malta or in some other exotic place. In front of you, you’ll see St. Paul’s Islands, covered with the typical maritime gargiue flora. This is the largest, uninhabited area in the country.
There is no official trail, but the outlines of a nature path can be seen, formed mainly by the locals and nature trekking enthusiasts. Again, you will have to choose between heading towards Mistra Bay, or making a circle along the coastline to reach Selmun beach.
We would recommend the latter, as you’ll have the chance to approach the beach from a different perspective, and thus, enjoy the curious shapes of the cliffs surrounding Imġiebaħ Bay. You will also have the chance to explore some old salt pans, leaving you wonder how they were built in such a strange place. Along your adventure, you will come across the typical Maltese flora and a wide variety of aromatic plants, such as the French Daffodil, Romulea, mint, and much more.
Without a doubt, you’ll also be accompanied by some shy lizards, butterflies and maybe even a hidden chameleon or two!
HOW TO GET THERE
Take any bus that passes by Mellieħa in the direction of Ċirkewwa, and get off at Mellieħa bus stop, the first one after the roundabout at the top of the hill.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Bees: they’re always attracted by the spring flowers aroma
Red Campion: eye-catching pring beauty on the Maltese Islands
Aleppo Pine: evergreen trees with needle-like leaves