Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 29 March 2015

El Caminito del rey

This weekend saw the opening of the newly-restored Caminito del Rey - the King's little pathway - in Malaga, Spain.

Originally built in the early 20th century as an access route for workers on a hydroelectric project, the narrow path along the sides of the gorge fell into disrepair and, after several fatalities, was closed to the public by the authorities. Naturally that was seen as a challenge by some...



I discovered this video some time ago; having no head at all for heights - I once froze up and had to be rescued from the walkway in the Palm House at Kew - I confine my occasional vertiginous thrill-seeking to YouTube, where I can vicariously enjoy this sort of thing from the comfort and safety of my own sofa.

While the new path, which has taken three years to complete, boasts a stable base with sufficient guard rails and netting to bring it within the capabilities of less adrenalin-fuelled visitors, I certainly won't be giving it a try, especially given the sections of glass flooring helpfully offering views of the river 100m below.

However, there are plenty of people who do like the idea; the official booking website crashed within hours of opening and there are more than 30,000 people on the waiting list, meaning it is booked solid for the next few months and on course to pay off some of the staggering €2.7 million cost of the refurbishment.

According to the rules, only 50 people per half hour are allowed to enter the trail - one hopes they don't all decide to stand on the same bit of the walkway at once. It's a bit like those signs giving the maximum lift capacity which have you surreptitiously counting the occupants and wondering exactly how much the manufacturers allowed per person - or is that just me?

Even though I can't imagine ever venturing onto the walkway in person - I'd be the one clinging to the cliff with all ten fingernails and frantically counting passers-by - I can certainly see the attraction of the imposing and dramatic scenery.

What a good thing Youtube gives armchair adventurers the chance to experience it while holding on tightly to a reassuring drink!

4 comments:

  1. If you don't have seat belts on your sofa then you are quite the adventurer.

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  2. Frank, that video was manageable with a firm grip on the cushions; google 'Russians climbing radio mast' and you'll be wanting a full safety harness...

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  3. "...I once froze up and had to be rescued from the walkway in the Palm House at Kew..."

    You didn't even attempt this bit then?

    http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/explore/attractions/treetop-walkway

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  4. Long after my time, but given that 'the structure is designed to flex slightly in the wind', I can't imagine I'll be tackling it any time soon.

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