Wied Qirda & The Tomb of the English Lady
This valley is located right next to the Malta International Airport. There are many ways to reach it. You can come from Zebbug, Qormi, Siggiewi or Luqa direction. We opted to come from Qormi and park on top of the valley. There was plenty of parking. We were three cars in total and no problem. I marked the exact path we walked on a map at the end of this blog.
The main reason for the visit was to find and hopefully explore ‘The Tomb of the English Lady’. It is a mysterious doorway carved in a rock!
Definitely wear a good footwear, ideally trekking shoes. It’s a a very bumpy off-road and the terrain is gonna get worse not better. But don’t worry it’s not that bad, my two year old son managed to walk it, so can you. 🙂
I feel I need to point out that this is yet another ‘hunter’s land’. I’ve seen two hunters while we were walking in the valley. I noticed countless empty cartridges and heard many gunshots. So if that’s something you’re scared of or makes you uncomfortable, please keep it in mind.
This little open area at the bottom of the valley was full of animal traps. Which once again confirms that hunters area indeed very active in this area. From now on we will stick to a quite narrow, very rocky path. You will be walking one after the other as the vegetation won’t allow you otherwise.
I have a feeling that when it rains a lot in Malta this path turns into a river.
Given the fact that I had my two year old son with me we didn’t really go off the path. However I’ve heard that there are quite a few caves worth exploring in the area. If you’re the super adventurous type, give it a try and let me know what you came across.
The Tomb of the English Lady
And here is what we’ve all been waiting for! The mysterious doorway carved in a rock approximately 10m above the ground. It’s mostly known as ‘The Tomb of the English Lady’. I’ve ask around, read a lot online and this is what I found.
Some people say that the tomb wasn’t actually carved in the rock. Apparently it is a natural cave with a man made facade. However I wasn’t inside, so I cannot confirm.
On 26 April 2002 the Times of Malta printed a letter entitled ‘Cliff Doorway’ from one Mik Fisher of Weymouth, a former pupil of the Royal Naval School at Tal Handaq in Malta. Mr Fisher wrote that in a dry valley near Tal Handaq there was a ‘rectangular door-like opening carved in the sheer wall of the wied’, and asked if anyone knew when it was carved and for what purpose. ‘This little puzzle has exercised my mind ever since I set eyes on the feature in 1955’, he said. (Souvenirs and New Ideas).
Until 2011 very little was known about the history of the tomb. It was named ‘l-Qabar tal-Ingliza’ – Tomb of the English Lady – as rumor has it that an English woman was riding a house in Wied Qirda, but she fell and died and was buried in the tomb. ‘She was a noble English lady who used to live in that area which she loved so much around the 1800. She fell from her horse and in her will she wished that she will be buried here.’ commented one of my readers.
It turns out that there is actually documentary evidence provided by Joseph Attard Tabone which reveals that the carved opening was actually made by a British soldier, Major Patrick Yule of the Royal Engineers, in tribute to his expedition to Xanthos, an ancient Lycian city now found in Antalya, Turkey.
On 12 October 1843, George Scharf recorded this diary entry: ‘Sketched in colour in the Upper Barracca. After dinned walked out of the town about four miles to see a tomb cut by Major Yule in the perpendicular rock in Lycian fashion and with good effect. This is in a long wild valley unfrequented and with very rough unpleasant road. The rocks here assume a much rougher character and hard, much crystalzied and are grayish in colour, much resembling the crags of Lycia.’
The ‘tomb’ must have been carved between June 1842, when Yule returned from Xanthos, and 12 October 1943, when it was shown to Fellows and Scharf and their party.
It was last surveyed in 1999 by members of the Grupp Arkeoloġiku Malti. Another reader, who was actually inside, said that the tomb is empty and that was very vandalized over the years.
As you can see on the picture above there is a rope leading up to the opening. We’ve tried to climb up the tomb, but our attempts were unsuccessful. Have you managed? Do you have any photos of the inside? Please let me know.
Also if you happen to go, try and look for a boulder nearby. One of my readers shared with me: ‘I walked there many years ago and a man from the area told me to look for the ‘Gebla Iddoq’ – the stone that rings. It’s a boulder, close to the grave, that when you hit it gives the impression that it’s hollow and gives off a bell sound.’
Here is me, my friend Elena and my son Oliver resting just underneath the tomb, while others tirelessly tried to reach it. We figured that it was safer to stay on the ground, but we cheered to the others, especially Oliver!
Then we continued through the thick vegetation until we reached a farmhouse. This was our turning point. You could easily continue walking and end up in Zebbug.
This was Olly’s first trek after a very long time, but it was very nice and heartwarming to see how many friends he made in one morning. I was a bit skeptical if he would manage to trek though the valley and keep up the pace, but he was surprisingly very good. So if you’re thinking of taking your toddler with you I would say do it! 🙂
Since the end of summer we already experienced number of very rainy days, which is a true blessing for the Maltese countryside, the greenery is back! It’s the time to move from the beach to nature and take of the swimwear and put on your trekking shoes!
Also mind where you step! This little guy was waiting for us in the middle of the path! Luckily none of us stepped on him. We ‘played’ with him for a while and then we carefully placed him on the side of the path.
Here is a view of Wied Qirda from above. A very beautiful place. I was honestly very surprised to find such a gem in Qormi! As one of my readers jokingly said ‘I was right that Qormi isn’t just Decathlon!’ I think it’s funny yet very truthful comment! 🙂
Here is the Wied Qirda on GoogleMaps. Usually I tag the beginning of the trek, but this time I tried to mark the exact location of the tomb.