Hello there, it’s been a while since I’ve taken you out for a stroll with me, so I thought I’d better put that right! This morning I found myself in town, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and I had a little bit of free time, so I made the most of it and took a walk up a footpath I have never visited before, to Devil’s Gap Battery in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
It starts on the Union Jack steps you may remember from my A stroll around Gibraltar: No. 2 Steps, steps, steps…, this photo above was taken from the top of the steps on the very edge of the nature reserve looking north and down towards Upper Town. The church you can see is Sacred Heart Church which is beautiful inside with the most amazing painted ceiling (more on that another time I’m sure!).
At the top of the steps, it’s as if you cross from one side of Gibraltar into another, the concrete comes to an end and the wilder side of the Rock is waiting to take you on another adventure. The wild nasturtiums were looking glorious as they lined the stone path.
You are soon faced with a climb upwards and the path gets quite uneven. I thought, as I wasn’t straying far from town, that I wouldn’t need trainers – big mistake, my shoes had little grip on the soles and I almost came a cropper a couple of times.
One of the joys of climbing up the Rock is that once the vegetation clears you soon get stunning views of the town and the Bay of Gibraltar. This photo shows the Governor’s back garden and beyond it, Queensway Quay marina.
Onwards, and upwards…. I was really impressed with the quality of the pathways and the fact that every so often along them there are information boards to tell visitors about the history of the area and explain the views in front of them. A lot of money has been spent smartening up the Upper Rock in the last few years and that can only be a good thing. This part of Gibraltar is so important from a biodiversity angle as well as to preserve the military heritage of the Rock.
As you stand in the town centre and look up at the Rock, between all the greenery, you can’t fail to notice that there are several brick built ‘towers’ dotted around the place. It has always puzzled me as to what they are for. They are too slim to be look-out towers and don’t appear to serve any obvious purpose. Well, I can now share a piece of newly acquired knowledge with you, they are ventilation shafts to the many tunnels quarried into the rock below. I’m pleased that I’ve been able to answer that question that’s been on my mind for several years!
At this point in the walk, you get the first clear view looking south towards Morocco, in the centre of this picture, you can see a large green expanse. That is the Alameda Botanical Gardens which featured in A stroll around Gibraltar No 7: The Alameda Gardens Part 1
You can also get a great view of the Royal Naval Dockyard and the visiting ships.
The stone footpath came to an end at a flight of stairs which led to a road and this rather imposing gateway…. should I go through do you think?
Oh, go on then! I had arrived at my destination, Devil’s Gap Battery.
It had had a recent lick of paint, but it was a rather eery sort of place, which had clearly been very important once upon a time, but is abandoned to nature and the occasional visitor now.
Can you see that contraption and sign saying shell lift? I can only assume it was meant to carry the shells up to the guns above.
If these walls could talk…
Mother Nature was trying to reclaim what once belonged to her.
I wonder who Private Roman was and what he’s up to these days…
A stair led upwards to above the gateway and a sentry post.
Around the back of this courtyard lay the path to the guns.
One of them was used to sink a German submarine off the coast of Algeciras opposite during the First World War, the only action Gibraltar was involved in during that war.
I’m not a huge fan of guns it has to be said, but it’s a beautiful spot.
The views are marvellous.
There are prickly pear cacti a plenty up here, and I was lucky enough to spy one in flower. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a wild cactus flowering.
I do hope you enjoyed this little stroll with me, there are several more to be explored in the nature reserve and I hope to be able to have another walk up there before too long. If you’re in Gibraltar or planning a visit and would like to find out more about Devil’s Gap Battery and the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, there’s an app available which details the Gibraltar Nature Reserve paths.