NATURE IN SAN ROQUE: AN ECOLOGICAL GOLD MINE
The nature area in San Roque has a total surface area of 145 square kilometres. Within this vast borough’s boundaries you can encounter some of the most impressive nature spots in the Gibraltar Area, due to its rich biodiversity.
Pinar del Rey Pine Woods, a Historical Nature Spot
Pinar del Rey is a 338 hectare suburban park, located in the heart of the Gibraltar Area. This singular wooded beauty spot features a remarkable and interesting historical background. The forest dates back to 1800 when the Spanish Navy, which was still the world’s first naval power, planted pine trees here to supply timber to make warships. Fortunately for nature lovers, these trees were never cut down as the Spanish and French fleet lost the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Spanish monarch of that time, Ferdinand VII donated this area to the people of San Roque in compensation for having lost Gibraltar.
The woods are divided into two main parts, the southern zone is where there are generally more visitors and the wilder northern zone, which is out of bounds for motor vehicles. On the one hand, the southern zone includes the Recreational Area with picnic and barbecue facilities, the Alhaja stream and the Nature Centre. On the other hand, the northern zone offers ramblers two options: the Big Ugly Bird Gorge and the Eagle’s Hill nature trails, where a group of baboons from the old Alcaidesa safari park can often be observed at the gorge.
Entering the Pinar del Rey through the main access gate, you will come across the Alhaja Drinking Fountain, a very popular spring amongst the people of San Roque.
You can enjoy a stroll along the Alhaja stream nature trail, which follow the river course and features some of the most exuberant vegetation in the park. This nature trail is one of the most beautiful routes, among the four nature trails available within the park.
The Nature Centre, run by San Roque Borough Council and the green group Verdemar, includes an information point with guides, a botanical garden with a wide variety of flora from this ecosystem. In fact, the Nature Centre has been awarded the blue flag, just like the Alcaidesa-Torrecarbonera and Torreguadiaro beaches.
The environmental guides at the Information Centre can offer you full details about the other three nature trails: Big, Ugly Bird Gorge, Eagle’s Hill and Pinar del Rey.
On the one hand, the two most demanding trails are Eagle’s Hill (medium-high difficulty) and Big, Ugly Bird Gorge (medium difficulty). On the other hand, the circular route around the lower section of the woods is apt for everyone (especially less active people).
Text: C. Jordan, Pictures: San Roque Tourist Board