A stroll around Gibraltar No. 22 : Douglas Path (Upper Rock Nature Reserve)

On Monday morning, before we were hit with the bad weather we’d been warned about, I took one last chance to go for a walk in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. It’s been a month since I have been able to do the Med Steps, so thought I would break myself in gently with a walk up the western side of the Rock using the roads to reach the summit. After reaching the top of the Med Steps (above) I decided that rather than to rush back down, as I usually do, I would go for a wander.

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of investment in the Upper Rock and certain parts have been cleared and new paths and attractions created for tourists and locals alike (one notable addition in recent times has been the Windsor Suspension Bridge). As you come down from the summit of the Med Steps, there is a ramp up to the right, which for months has been barricaded off with screens as work was being carried out. On Monday, I noticed that these screens had gone and went for an explore.

The path led upwards and in a northerly direction back towards the top of the Rock. As the gaps between the trees and bushes grew larger, I was given a great view down to the town area and harbour ahead.

As I turned a slight bend in the path, there in front of me (admittedly shrouded in cloud) was the northern summit of the Rock.

The path lead down some steps amongst a number of old disused military buildings (you can see inside the one above later on). How tempting does it look to go down down these steps and find out what lies beyond?

The first building I came to afforded great views across the Western side of the Rock, along with some rather intriguing looking hooks cemented into the ceiling! I’m assuming that they were for holding cabling or equipment at some point in the past…

Opposite this small building lay a network of other rooms and corridors, which were sunk into the ground and set into the Rock itself.

This room below is in the building you first see as you arrive at this place, there are two seagulls sitting on the roof of it in the photos earlier on.

It was such an atmospheric place to be. It almost felt forbidden to be there, or like I was the first person to go into these buildings for years and years (that’s clearly not the case but it felt like it!). I believe that these rooms were used for charts and telephone communication. The ones with lookout positions were clearly used to keep an eye on what was going on outside. If these walls could talk….

It was only when I entered the room above that I realised I had passed under the top of the Rock and was peering through these openings to the other side – towards the Mediterranean Sea! This place is one of the few positions in the Upper Rock which affords spectacular views out to both the east and the west.

It reminded me a lot of when I visited the Devil’s Gap Battery on a similarly accidental basis a while ago. We go about our daily business in the streets and buildings below and forget about the rich military heritage Gibraltar has up above our heads.

I was unable to continue any further north along this path, as it was gated off, but it gave a great vantage point to look northwards.

What an interesting place. I shall have to do a bit of investigating to find out more about it. I have been in Gibraltar now for about eight and half years, and it never ceases to amaze me when I stumble across something new.

As I headed back down the Douglas Path (below) to pick up the road back down to my home, I passed a tourist notice board with some information about this area: the path runs along the top ridge of the Rock and connects a series of military installations. To the south are O’Hara’s, Lord Airey’s and Breakneck Batteries (what a name!), as well as Douglas Cave.

I couldn’t do a post about the Upper Rock without featuring one of furry neighbours could I? Cue obligatory ape shot:

I’ve saved the most interesting fact until last (well it’s interesting if you like James Bond films). Douglas Path featured in the opening sequence of the 1987 James Bond film ‘The Living Daylights’. In his first role as 007, Timothy Dalton parachuted onto the Rock before zooming down the nature reserve’s rather vertiginous roads on the roof of a hijacked Land Rover and crashing through a wall towards the sea – Douglas Path was one of those roads!

That little nugget of information may help you in a pub quiz one day – you never know!! You’re very welcome. 😉

Sunday Sevens #64 1.1.17

Happy New Year! Is it really only a week ago that we were celebrating Christmas? It feels like much longer!

Christmas Day Lunch


Mr Postcard reprised his role as Christmas Day chef and was so proud of his turkey, I was called into the kitchen to take a photo for Sunday Sevens! It was delicious.

We had a lovely day at home, joined by my parents. We were all very lucky and got lots of lovely things. Among my favourites were a new lens for my camera from Mr Postcard – watch out for loads more Postcard from Gibraltar sunsets… and some lovely fluffy yarn and an Amigurumi book from my little brother.

This year’s Christmas makes


I can share a few of my festive makes,  now they have been gifted. I was asked by a friend to make a mermaid blanket for her daughter. I made a couple of ring cushions ahead of two weddings next year and the wreath was a request for my Mum.

Polar bear swim


Boxing Day for us was dominated by turkey leftovers and the Catalan Bay Polar Bear Swim. If you haven’t already, you can read all about it in my post here. I’m so glad I did it – I was wavering until about two hours before hand and I just thought what the heck, life’s short and one day I may look back and regret not doing it.

Crochet, rosé & Dirty Dancing 


So in the space of a few days, we lost two people who played a big part in my formative years (and those of countless others) albeit via the silver screen and the radio airwaves. I think an awful lot of people from my generation really felt the loss of George Michael and Carrie Fisher this week. Sometimes only crochet, wine and Dirty Dancing on the telly will do… Thank you Channel 5 – I really needed that.

Legotastic 


Despite all the new toys which appeared in this house over Christmas, the trusty box of Lego featured heavily over the last week. We have had vehicle races and competitions and all sorts of creative fun. The lounge floor was awash with those sharp little bricks but it was a small price to pay for fraternal harmony (for a few hours) and a break from TV and gadget screens.

Beach walk


We revisited Catalan Bay on Thursday afternoon to stretch our legs. It was somewhat quieter than it had been on Monday… and I resisted the temptation to jump into the crashing waves and stayed on the sand. 😉

Shopping in Spain


On Friday we took a drive up the Costa del Sol coast for a brief shopping trip and lunch. We were away from the Rock for less than 6 hours but we enjoyed our mini-mini break!

New Year’s Eve Med Stepping


Yesterday, I ventured up the Med Steps for the first time in weeks. What a change those weeks have meant for the vegetation and wildlife up there. There were loads of delicate white narcissi lining the paths and on the roof of this old army look out post. There was also a lot of these wild clematis type of plants…


It was so pretty up there. The beautiful flowers took my mind off the fact I was out of breath!

One last sunset of 2016

I know I have gone way over the normal seven photos for a Sunday Sevens post, but there has been such a lot going on this week. As Gibraltar was gearing up for a big night of celebrations (see photo below) we headed home for a quiet celebration. Here’s a couple of shots of the last sunset of 2016 as seen in Gibraltar – can you see a sliver of moon among the clouds?


This photo shows the lights in Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar from here we live. It’s slightly blurry (apologies for that) but it gives you a sense of just how close we are.

I do hope that you have a wonderful new year and that 2017 is a happy and healthy one for you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for all the lovely comments I’ve received over the past year, it’s so nice to know that there are actually people out there (apart from my Mum and Dad) who want to read what I have to write. Thank you!

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins blog.

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 13 : Windsor Suspension Bridge 

Hello there, the school summer holidays are well underway here in Gibraltar, so today I took the little Postcards for a trip to the Rock’s newest visitor attraction; the Windsor suspension bridge. Construction of the bridge took many months and those of us who live on the Rock were able to see this bridge appear up high above the town and we were guessing exactly what it was for.

At one stage, once the main frame of the bridge was in place but the section you actually walk on wasn’t complete, we wondered whether it would have a glass bottom so you could walk ‘in mid-air’! I have to say, if that had been the case, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to attempt it. I’m not great up a ladder at the best of times…

Last month the completed bridge was officially opened by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo and since then many local residents and tourists alike have benefitted from being able to walk across it and take in the view of the town below from a new angle. Having seen many of my friends’ Facebook photos of them and their loved ones taking a trip up there, I figured it was high time I had a go myself. As it’s school holiday time, that meant taking my three boys with me too.

We began our walk from the Pillars of Hercules statue and spotted a large Royal Caribbean cruise ship approaching Gibraltar. The little Postcards thought it would be fun to try and race it. Would it dock at the cruise terminal before we reached the bridge? It was moving quite fast…

We soon picked up our path when we saw this new sign post marking the way where a road had previously been closed. (Can you see the cruise ship closing in on us in the background?). After quite a steep climb for little legs, the downward stretch was very welcome.

It was at this point I noticed something I don’t think I’ve seen before in Gibraltar. You may remember from my post On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me… I make mention of the rings which were used by the military to haul the cannons up to the top of the Rock. You see them embedded into walls and the Rock itself all over the Upper Rock. We found one right in the middle of the road!

Our first port of call on this walk was Rooke Battery. It’s named after Sir George Rooke who commanded the British Fleet when Gibraltar came under British rule. It was the site of a large gun and was later used as the base for one of the huge search lights used during World War II.

The view from Rooke Battery this morning was just beautiful looking across to Morocco over the Strait.

The path led us on downwards past a small picnic area. I’m afraid picnic areas in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve bemuse me slightly bearing in mind the local hairy residents aka Barbary Macaques can hear a picnic bag unzipping from miles away and descend to steal your lunch! Anyway, as I was saying, the path led us to the southern side of the magnificent new Windsor Suspension Bridge.

As you can see above, the bridge stretches over a 50m gorge and is suspended between two batteries. It’s 75 metres long and most exciting of all, it moves with the wind and movement of people on it. This was a particular highlight for the two smallest Postcards, who despite warnings not to, took great pleasure in trying to make it vibrate as they stomped across.

The view you get from the bridge is just stunning (I guess the glorious weather this morning probably helped a bit). Regular readers of this blog will know I am a frequent visitor to the Upper Rock and I always enjoy spying down on the town below from a great height. This ‘new’ section of old path which has only just reopened gives you a completely different perspective on the town below and I really enjoyed seeing it from a new angle.

Despite the fact the sun had just popped up over the top of the Rock when we were on the bridge, being on the western side at this time in the morning with the cool sea breezes blowing, it was a really cool place to be (in more ways than one). The little Postcards enjoyed seeing three navy ships in the Naval Dockyard below. After a game of Battleship earlier this week, they were thrilled to be able to see the ‘real thing’.

To put the 75metre length of the bridge into context a helpful sign nearby points out that this is equivalent to 7 1/2 double decker London buses parked end to end.

I’m no bridge expert, but it’s a beauty in my book!

Along side the new bridge and improved pathways are some disused military buildings nearby. I find these kinds of things fascinating. Having never known Gibraltar when there was a large military presence here, my mind plays overtime wondering what it was like back in the military’s heyday here. What were these rooms and pipes hidden within a deep gorge used for?

The bridge was such a hit with the smaller members of the family, we crossed it not once but three times before climbing up the steps on the other side and onto the pathway.

There was yet another picnic area, the perfect spot to risk opening the rucksack for a drink – which we managed without any of our ape friends joining us. The dappled shade from the olive trees above was very welcome.

The lush green vegetation of the Upper Rock which was evident back in spring when I was doing my Med Steps 5 training is now all crispy and brown. Such a shame that the lushness has been parched by the hot sun. The threat of fires in the area were very close to home yesterday as a large wildfire burned on the mountains above our neighbours in La Linea across the border and threatened homes and lives in the San Roque, Santa Margarita and Alcaidesa areas. Homes had to be evacuated and planes and helicopters were used to fight the fire. It must have been a very frightening experience for all those involved.

So did we make it to the bridge before the cruise shipped docked a the cruise terminal? The answer is yes (just)! Did you spot it in the background of this photo?

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this trip up the Rock with us today 🙂

On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me…

  
I escaped this afternoon for nearly two hours away from the video games, toys and being beaten over the head with a cardboard tube light saber. I used my time wisely to burn off a few calories consumed over the past week or so and set off for a walk up the Rock. It was a bit blowy to attempt the Med Steps so I settled for the less treacherous western side along the roads used by the many taxi cabs and tour buses which ferry tourists to the summit daily.   As I strode purposefully up this great Rock a tune was turning over in my mind, a festive tune, known in our house as ‘A parsnip in a pear tree’ (The Twelve Days of Christmas).

A few new lyrics started popping into my head too, if you don’t mind a little festive corniness read on….

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: two cable cars and a most amazing view. 

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 3 taxi cabs, two cable cars and a most amazing view. 

  
On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 6 stalagmites (and the rest!), 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing  view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

 On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me 9 road signs, the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing  view.

  On a a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: postcards from Gibraltar (sorry I couldn’t resist!), Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me dozens of Barbary apes, postcards from Gibraltar, Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view!