Yesterday was a most excellent day. We have our friend over at the moment. First visitor of the year and he arrived the day before yesterday all fresh, dandy and ready to explore. Now over the Christmas period we spent some time with our lovely neighbours (J & M) and I asked them if they had ever seen, been or heard of ‘the jungle’. Having lived here all of their lives, of course they had heard of it. M laughed and told us about his childhood growing up around the Moorish Castle area and having chicken runs and growing vegetables in that very place! And J shocked me when she said she had never been, so we arranged a date to go and see ‘the jungle’ which would coincide with our friends visit.
Now I had heard about tunnels full of old buildings that looked like store fronts and of old battlements and rocky pathways, but I genuinely had my mind blown by the things we saw yesterday. I’m going to do a separate post with all of the amazing graffiti we saw, mostly because there was so much. Hidden away from sight, and I couldn’t help but feel very smug that I am lucky enough to have seen it. Alas there was also some where you can’t help but wonder why the ‘artist’ even bothered, but I guess that is par for the course.
‘The jungle’ is basically three tiers of tunnels and pathways that made up the Northern Defence of Gibraltar, also known as The Lines (Kings, Queens and Princes). We gained access to them via hole in a fence. (Rebels eh?) There is an open tunnel in the Moorish Castle estate, and I think we only did the lower and middle levels. I will get to the top one when my Dad arrives at the end of the month. We saw the old cooks houses, marvelled at the blast walls of the entrances and exits (probably over 1.5m thick) and climbed endless steps, explored old ruins and looked into the old officers quarters and offices. I couldn’t believe that many of these areas had been sealed up never to be used again. And still to this day many areas are still bricked in. We also saw the very last gun, that involved climbing down broken-down walls and hauling ourselves over rough land, but it was well worth it. What an amazing piece of history, just left abandoned. Also a dumper truck which has been left by the (chimney I think, someone please correct me if I am wrong) fuel dump chimney / vent was just surreal. How on earth did it get up there?
Now if you do happen to want to explore this area and find your own way in, let me give you some tips. 1) Bring a drink, I had no idea we would be walking for as long as we were! And it is thirsty work. 2) A torch is a must, and it is not an option to take this walk / hike without one. (You will trip over, and you will get lost) 3) You can explore for yourself or you can follow the bright orange / yellow arrows. We had M who knows these tunnels like the back of his hand, (he used to take them school as a kid) but I think you could do a fairly good tour following the arrows, alternatively you can leave a Hansel & Gretel style trail… (that’s a joke by the way!) 4) Sturdy shoes are also something that are non-negotiable.
Now considering these tunnels were created in 1790 or thereabouts they are in remarkably good condition, some of the stair ways outside have suffered from either regular use or perhaps the weather and have a few rather scary holes in them, it is somewhere you need to pay full attention too. At one point we got to a man-made hole and M ambled down. I will post the picture below. It is an old reservoir, the boys followed. I didn’t and neither did J. Nope we waited ‘above ground’ if waiting in a tunnel can be classed as above ground, and listened to them exploring the narrow space below us. I just couldn’t see how I would climb back up, maybe next time we go I wont be such a chicken! Haha.
The only thing I didn’t like about the journey was the sheer volume of dog poop and rubbish strewn everywhere. Another reason to stay alert. Given the amazing history of the site and the fact it isn’t on the tourist map, it really saddens me to think this is local folks not picking up their rubbish after they have visited, not that tourists leaving rubbish in places is OK, but I always think it is important to have a sense of pride in where you live!
I have seen on FB that there is talk of the current government taking this area on as a project and getting it cleaned up and ‘tourist ready’. I really think this would be an amazing idea, or perhaps on the next ‘Clean Up The World’ event, the lovely folks involved could help rid the area of litter? It would make a difference I am sure. But the idea of this being opened up to the public really excites me. We had so much fun and such an amazing history lesson! Yesterday afternoon was definitely my favourite tourist adventure since we first climbed the Rock three years ago! Also worth noting are the amazing views that part of the Rock affords you across Gibraltar, the runway and Spain, they really are just breathtaking! 🙂