There is a walking route which I do fairly regularly which isn’t really on the tourist map. It’s a really popular route for walkers, dog walkers and joggers especially in the evening. It starts just south of the end of Main Street and takes you almost to Europa Point (well you can carry on going if you want to, but on this stroll we end up at the seaside of Camp Bay). Care to join me?
The walk starts at the northern most end of Rosia Road and follows the line of the old sea wall until you reach the sea and the popular summertime destination for many Gibraltarians of Camp Bay. It begins with the lovely pedestrianised area you can see above – pedestrianised areas and even pavements can be few and far between here in Gibraltar – so it’s quite a big deal! The railings you can see on the left mark the edge of the old sea wall, and there’s a considerable drop on the other side. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, the sea once lapped the base of this wall and the naval dockyard (below) wasn’t there!
The dockyard often hosts visiting Royal Naval ships and submarines, some of which the public are allowed to visit. A couple of years ago, we all went onto HMS Bulwark when it was in visiting. The little postcards loved exploring the bowels of the ship and even got to sit inside a helicopter and wear a helicopter pilot’s helmet. I’m not sure whether they will be signing up to join though, they were happy with a look around, less so about disappearing off to sea for months on end!
It’s not that terribly long ago that this area was home to many families housed in Nissen Huts. They must have been incredibly hot to live in during the summer months.
A short walk along from here is Whitham’s Road on the left, at this point I am going to take you on a slight detour…
We had lived in Gibraltar for almost 5 years before I had the need to walk up Whitham’s Road towards St Josephs’s Church and I was amazed with what I discovered. Not only a derelict Middle School (which is now being converted into luxury housing) but also a cemetery. A cemetery which looked like it had been completely forgotten about.
The cemetery which is also described as Sand Pits Cemetery in some documents (due to it’s proximity to the Sand Pits area) is the final resting place of around 300 people, many of whom were the wives and children of military personnel based here between 1765 and 1850.
A large proportion of those who are buried here lost their lives in a small pox epidemic in 1787. The graveyard has been largely abandoned over the years although there have been several attempts by volunteers to clean up the area. At the moment the Gibraltar Heritage Trust are organising a programme of works which began in March when a visiting squadron began clearing the vegetation and improving the paths. There is a sponsorship programme underway to restore some of the headstones which have been damaged as well as plans to open up a pathway through the cemetery.
As you can see from the photos, it’s in a very poor state right now and is bordered on most sides by blocks of flats. It’s such a shame it has been left to rack and ruin in the past, but at least now it’s getting some attention. It is a really atmospheric place, although I’m not sure I’d like to spend too long there at nighttime!!
Retracing our steps and heading back on to Rosia Road you can soon see the top of the church tower of St Joseph’s poking out above the housing here. The view of the other side of the road is a little uninspiring (hence the lack of photos) as there’s an industrial estate here. The estate backs up to the GibDock dry docks. It’s here that ships from all over the world come to be repaired. It’s interesting to see where they have come from, I’ve seen ships from Panama, Scandinavia and Africa.
The docks are dominated by this lovely clock tower.
Also in this area is the main police headquarters for the Royal Gibraltar Police. If you watched the UK Channel 5 programme Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun, you may recognise it as the location of some of the interviews.
A little further on and you reach the 100 ton Victorian Supergun. Which is one of two which were based Gibraltar (the other one is no longer there but stood on the site of the City Fire Station). The 100 Ton Gun is a tourist attraction and quite an interesting summer holiday visit with bored children for half an hour or so! We may be going this summer, so I’ll tell you more about it if we do!
The huge cannon sits right beside Rosia Bay, which you can see in the photo below. It has an important part in the story of the Battle of Trafalgar as it’s where Nelson’s ship HMS Victory was moored after the victorious battle. It is a lovely spot, but in need of a little tlc – there are plans to smarten it up and make it more than just a fishing and diving destination as it is now. Sitting guard above the bay is Parson’s Lodge, a Victorian bastion which is now a field centre for the Gibraltar Museum.
Also above the bay is the 200 year old Naval Victualling Yard, and the home to one of Gibraltar’s veterinary practices.
The crest above the entrance to the yard was restored in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Here the road narrows considerably around the yard and sandwiched between that and Parson’s Lodge appears a little tunnel – the narrow tunnel offers one of the two routes south to Europa Point on the western side of the Rock. It sees a fair amount of traffic and can be a little treacherous for pedestrians at busy times.
It’s worth taking the walk though because it opens up into Camp Bay, the end of our stroll. Here you can smell the ozone from the waves lapping on the pebble shore and see the huge boats close by in the Bay of Gibraltar.
This spot, with it’s access to the sea and couple of swimming and paddling pools for children is incredibly busy in the summer months. Whole families decamp here for long days of relaxing, swimming, eating and having fun.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed this little stroll, thanks so much for stopping by!