Ask me today for my top five places on the island and I can’t guarantee I’ll give you the same five as I would have done yesterday or might tomorrow. What I can be sure of, though, is that the lesser-known Dahlet Qorrot, a particularly beautiful bay on the North Eastern edge of the island will appear every time. It’s a hidden gem with a rustic rural charm and a total lack of pretension that epitomises the qualities we love about Gozo: there’s just a little beach and a small amount of natural shade under which to lie a towel or two.
The other day as we headed there, we passed a field on the left between Victoria and Nadur which was perfect for a picture if only I hadn’t been whizzing along on the back of the scooter. (The Significant Other has forbidden me to drive it myself any more since an unfortunate incident involving a wall earlier in the year during which I wrote off its front forks and wheel.) In the midst of this field stood an ancient battered combine harvester abandoned for the afternoon half-way through gathering the crop. Its open cab seat would normally have left the farmer directly in the blazing sun but instead a matching red Coca Cola sun-umbrella had been jauntily erected to provide shade as he crossed back and forth over his land. The charming simplicity of this common sense approach gives a snapshot of the everyday earthly paradise this island offers if you like your days uncomplicated with a touch of “Durrell’, an invented word to describe the style of the much-loved family of Other Animals fame who headed to the Mediterranean island of Corfu in the early 1930s in search of sunshine, a gentle pace of life and an enchanting if old-fashioned eccentricity.
And Dahlet Qorrot is perfectly unspoilt by the 21st century, reached by an off-beat road* through a long fertile green valley farmed in the traditional way. Down a steep steep hill the road curves in sweeping zigzags past scattered squashes and lemon trees, to reach half a dozen boats bobbing on clear aquamarine water over golden sand. Face inland the way you came and there’s just steep green hillside, rocky and rugged, a simple refreshment stand at its foot for a post-snorkel Kinnie or Cisk. To the left across the water on another hilltop, you’ll see San Blas tower, a remnant of the days of the Knights of St John who watched over the impressive coastline from impregnable square towers around the edges of the island; at its foot giant boulders lie where they have fallen from the cliffs in decades and centuries gone by. And then, along the right-hand side of the bay old fisherman’s huts are carved into the soft curves of yellow limestone, the doors around the bay either freshly painted in bright colours or sun-curled from years of little regard or use.
Of an evening in the hot summer months a dozen local families will be playing in the water, paddling at the water’s edge or jumping from the simple concrete balustrade. In the cooler months you are quite likely to have the place to yourself to enjoy the view or take the dramatic coastal path either to the east or to the west. Either direction promises a stunning stroll.
(*Follow the signs from Nadur centre towards San Blas and then look out for a right as you head out of the village. It is signed but the potted and patched nature of the road may make you worried you shouldn’t be driving that way. It isn’t perhaps one for the faint-hearted.)