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A must-buy book, but flawed - read our recommendations
on 22 March 2013
This is one of the only books on walking in Malta so it's worth having - but it certainly has its flaws, so I strongly recommend you read the following info that for us is now being "wise in hindsight". First off is that the maps in the book usually don't have the detail you need for walking, and even with the written instructions it is often very difficult to sure you're going in the right direction.
You absolutely MUST get the Maltese Planning Authority map (mentioned on page 30) as it's the only good 1:25,000 map with contours. The maps in the book are from this, but often they are reduced down and you usually need a wider area than shown to get your bearings from the contours of the landscape. However, getting that map is very tricky - as you can only get it from the official planning authority office (MEPA) which is impossible to find from the details given in the book. To find it, leave the main bus terminus roundabout in the direction of the War Memorial then walk along Triq Sant' Anna passing and leaving behind all the shops and arcades before taking a road leaving off diagonally left after passing a chicken shop and open paved area on your left. This road is un-named (even on internet mapping services, though MEPA is marked on Google Maps), and you will find MEPA on your right after 150m. Be aware that it closes at noon each day and long queues are to be expected. We never got this map (we were too late on the day we wasted trying to buy it), so plan ahead to make sure you get this map at the start of your holiday, as it's not available anywhere else.
As for the walks themselves, we can only comment on the few we did (we had a one-week holiday and we lost one day trying to buy the map). Walk 11 is a great, varied coastal walk with few flaws in the book though at times you need to spend time working out the route. Walk 19 is an interesting river valley walk, but we wasted over an hour trying to find the bus stop to start from as the bus route has changed (and an unhelpful bus driver didn't tell us that his bus no longer served that stop) - eventually we got off at Mdina bus terminus and asked for directions to Busugrilla (the supposed starting point, a half-hour walk, mainly downhill).
Walk 8 is far more challenging than the book suggests, and at times was quite dangerous (the book mentions this in a side note but not in the text of the walk). Nevertheless it was rewarding if you are prepared to scramble over huge, sharp boulders, pass through caverns and walk along narrow, unstable paths with long drops alongside.
Walk 13 is short but interesting and is the only walk with info marked on the way, thanks to some local enthusiasts and schools. Walk 1 should have been simple - but there was a lot of work going on in Valetta and they have removed the footbridge mentioned near the start of the walk - so go through the city gate from the bus terminus, take the first left road and then turn left to walk uphill to the city walls and continue along with the instructions (which vary slightly even after that, but following battlements is usually simple enough to do). Walk 17 was bleak and, frankly, mainly dull (though the book did hint at this) - we chose it because it was our last day and we didn't want to risk a bus re-routing nightmare again.
Is the book worth buying? Absolutely - it's a must-buy. But buy the MEPA map first and double-check that the start and finish bus stops are on the bus route quoted in the book, as routes are bound to change over time (this was the 2012 edition - make sure you buy the latest). We will definitely use the book again next time we go (and we will also try the "Malta, Gozo and Comino: Car Tours and Walks" book from Sunflower Books) as it offers a rare opportunity to explore rural Malta. In Feb 2013 the cost of a one-week unlimited bus ticket for the island was 12 Euros per person, which is a true bargain.