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If you want to get to Upper Rock Nature Reserve in Gibraltar there are a few options including the Cable Car (the easiest!), via Castle Steps that are accessed from Main Street near the Post Office (fairly easy and which come out by the Moorish Castle), or the Mediterranean Steps (definitely not for the faint hearted!).
The Mediterranean (Med) Steps start at the southern end of Gibraltar at Jews’ Gate (near the Jewish Cemetery and the Pillars of Hercules monument) and end 1,400 metres later near O’Hara’s Battery.
The walk starts easily enough along a narrow rocky path with the Strait of Gibraltar to the right and even has a downward section (the calm before the storm!) before the first real steps appear – this is where the hard work begins!!
Some of the steps are man-made while others are hewn out of the rock. I only have little legs, so I was grateful for the rope ‘bannisters’ that have been put in place at various spots on the route as, believe me, some of the steps are quite deep! Fortunately, the whole walk is so scenic that my rest attempts could be passed off as needing to stop to take photos!
At the top of the first flight of steps and to the left of the path are the Goat’s Hair Twin Caves – the perfect spot to have a breather and admire the view of the Med, the lighthouse at Europa Point and the hills of Africa on the other side of the Strait.
My breath back I carried on upwards, through a tunnel, eventually reaching several World War II military buildings. Heading past these is a viewing platform looking along the eastern side of the rock and up the beaches of the Costa del Sol.
Backtracking slightly the next set of steps are on the right and the path starts to get steeper! The final set of steps zigzag their way up the side of the rock and, again, the multiple photo opportunities are the perfect excuse to stop for a breather!
The amount of flora and fauna is spectacular. I’ve been at different times of the year and there’s always some new flowers to see. This time it was the pretty narcissi. I was also lucky to have a Barbary Partridge cross my path although it ran out of the undergrowth far too quickly for me to get a photo. Next time!
Looking up to see how much further I had to go I was met by these chaps! There are generally some Barbary Macaques hanging around on the road at the summit but, to see more, the road heads down to the Apes’ Den.
There are four colour coded walking trails around the Upper Rock to ensure that there is something for visitors of all abilities. There’s even an app that can be downloaded via the iTunes store.
The big question now is, do I sign up for the Med Steps Challenge in May? Five laps of the route – something to think about anyway!