The Rock of Gibraltar

Monday, 25th November 2019


Matilda, having thrown up on the ferry the crossing the Straits, was particularly disappointed to be feeling under the weather on the first morning in Gibraltar where the breakfast reflected “The Rock’s” close links with the UK and tempting “full English” cooked fare was on offer. However, she contented herself with some plain toast and enjoying the views from the dining room, hoping to be able to do the meal justice the following day.

We felt that the management might wish to update their “rogues’s gallery” in light of recent royal developments and we offered to help.

Despite feeling fragile, Matilda was determined to see some of Gibraltar so we went on the cable car, passing almost directly above our hotel . . .

. . . to the upper station at Signal Hill Battery, on Gibraltar’s second highest peak. Signs as you queue for the cable car advise you not to take food or plastic bags with you as the infamous apes will make these a target. Sure enough, as soon as we disembarked, an ape leapt onto the cable car to assess the pickings and then, having spotted a carrier bag, made friends with an unsuspecting tourist, who was temporarily enchanted until she found her lunch was being whisked away down the hill.

The apes are both nonchalant and ubiquitous.

As you walk up you approach the Skywalk. . .

. . . .with glass walkways over the sheer drop . . .

. . . out over the ocean.

The views are spectacular. Standing 340 metres directly above sea level, the Skywalk is higher than the tallest point of London’s The Shard and offers 360º views spanning three countries and two continents. It is built on the foundations of an existing WWII base structure and can carry the weight of 5 Asian elephants, or 340 people, standing on it at the same time.

A member of staff informed us that an area was cordoned off as some people had dropped rocks on the Skywalk to see if it would break but although there were cracks in the glass it was nevertheless perfectly safe as he went out on it to clean it every day.

In an inspired piece of marketing, Mark Hamill had opened the Skywalk [check it out here] and subsequently Darth Vader has made an appearance.

Matilda, who could not contemplate the steep climb, sat and watched as several people walked nervously out over the glass whilst Robert climbed up to see O’Hara’s Battery, which is at the highest point on the Rock, on the southernmost tip. Constructed in 1890, O’Hara’s Battery was a restricted area until 2010 when it was first opened to the public. The gun you see now was installed in 1901 and could fire all the way over the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco: around 10 miles distant.

Underneath the battery is another tunnel running all the way down to . . .

. . . the armoury.

We then went into St Michael’s cave – an extraordinary underground grotto which has been turned into a . . .

. . . performance area.

As Matilda was not feeling well Robert tried to find a new drinking companion.

It is definitely worth getting the cable car up and then walking down so that you can admire the views . . .

. . . on your way down without feeling out of breath.

Walking up would clearly be much more of a challenge.

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