Mediterranean Steps is a steep, at times arduous, walk and is not for people without a head for heights. Early mornings are usually preferable, but during the summer months a late afternoon walk will provide the visitor with plenty of much-needed shade. The area is particularly appealing during the spring, when the visitor is greeted by an interesting and very beautiful array of flowers. Mediterranean Steps take the walker from Jews’ Gate on the southern end of the Nature Reserve at 180m above sea level, up towards O’Hara’s Battery at 419m, close to the summit of the Rock.
The path runs mainly along the eastern side of the Rock, an area that is comprised primarily of cliffs and low Mediterranean scrub. The walk starts beside Jew’s Gate Cemetery, leading south through some dense maquis, which gradually opens out, from which the walker is afforded a spectacular view of North Africa across the Strait. From here, we continue along a narrow path that borders along the edge of cliffs and at this point we begin to appreciate the silence and serenity that this path has to offer, and the cries of the yellow-legged gulls are frequently all that can be heard. Continuing north along this path past the steps leading upwards, Martin’s Cave comes into view. Retracing our way, we begin to ascend a steep flight of steps that leads to the Goat’s Hair Twin Caves; two caves that lie directly to the left of the path.
Excavations during the 1970s in one of these caves unearthed artefacts that indicate that prehistoric man had once inhabited them, hence the steps and surrounding area being part of the UNESCO World Heritage site buffer zone. It is amazing to consider that these caves, like Martin’s Cave, were once at sea level. Continuing the climb, we reach a building that was constructed by the military during WWII. Here, we finish the first flight of steps, and commence a path that leads through a small tunnel and on towards some WWII fortifications.
We now reach a platform that offers the visitor a unique view northwards. The path winds its way upward, and starts to get steeper. Looking up towards the top of the Rock, we can now see the zig-zagging stairway that hugs the cliff and leads to the end of the walk. Here, we also encounter another set of WWII fortifications. Following the track, the walker arrives at the base of the cliff, where the final flight of steps subjects the visitor to a last, strenuous effort in order to reach the summit.
Halfway up these steps we find Spider Cave, a small hollow that was used during WWII. At the summit immediately to the south lies Lord Airey’s and O’Hara’s Batteries two 9.2 inch guns, found at these emplacements installed at these sites during WWII, and were last fired by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment in 1972. This is where the walk ends, one can then either retrace their steps, or preferably follow the road down to St. Michael’s Cave or northbound towards Prince Philip’s Arch.