About twenty years ago, we had a vacation in southern France. It is a beautiful part of the world to visit and a combination of great food and wine and some outstanding scenery. We were staying along the Lot river but a short drive away was the town of Rocamadour. This town is famous for being built on the side of a cliff. It is really a stunning location. As you approach it by road, you get a great view of the whole town arrayed up the side of the hill.
When you get in to the town, you can climb up to the top following a trail that pilgrims have made over the centuries. They did it in slow and laborious ways but we just walked, albeit slowly. When you get to the top, you can walk out on some ramparts that are pretty high and exposed. Not my idea of a fun place to be but I am not going to wuss out. If you find yourself in this part of France, so make the effort to visit. I would love to go again and this time I would take way more photos!
Mum and I drove along the shore of Sandown Bay while I was visiting. The rain was blowing through and the result was a rainbow that was hanging over the cliffs up on Culver. I had a long lens on at the time so my only option was to try and shoot a bunch of images and create a panorama. I didn’t do a good job of it because I missed some areas and the software struggled to align the images because there was so much sky so I ended up sorting it out by hand. This shot was the result.
One more post from our visit to Capilano. The deep valley that the river runs through and that the bridge crosses has some steep, rocky sides. These have provided another opportunity for the owners to add some interest. They have mounted a walkway along the cliff face. I don’t know what inspired this but if you have seen the walkway at the Grand Canyon or the glass boxes on the Sears Tower (watcha talking about Willis) then you see a similar them.
These paths run on structure built in to the cliff face. They are shaped so, while you have normal width handrails, the foot section is narrower so you have a more obvious view downwards. You have no doubt how high up you are. Meanwhile, you get to see the mounting points that have been driven into the cliff face to support all of this.
One section of the path is a semi-circle that is suspended by cables mounted on the cliff face. It is a dramatic part of the structure and everyone is fascinated by it when they get there. Don’t anticipate moving through this section too quickly because it does tend to back up a bit. A little later I walked above this section and found a spot where you can look directly down on the curve and it takes on a whole new perspective. I think it is quite beautiful. Winding your way along the face of the cliffs on these walkways is very cool and is definitely not to be overlooked if you visit.
Pacifica is a town built on cliffs that are not terribly resilient. The water progressively eats away at the base of the cliffs and, inevitably, things end up falling in to the ocean. I recently heard about a couple of apartment buildings that have been evacuated because of their proximity to the edge. I passed a building that had signs up in the parking lot advising you to go no further. As I got further around, I could see why. You can park there I guess but you might not have a car to come back to!
Surfing off the headland at Santa Cruz involves getting into the water a distance away and then paddling across. If that seems like too much hard work, you can climb the fence and walk out onto the headland with your board before jumping off the cliff. We saw a couple of guys doing that while we were there. There was little hesitation so I guess they had done this before.
They weren’t alone! I saw one guy jump off quite a high area. He was followed by a friend of his and I was ready when she jumped. A burst of shots means I can animate the jumps! I did two versions of this. One that doesn’t move the background and results in some white space moving around. The other tracks the subject. Not sure which I prefer.
I posted some shots of the Needles in this post. The rocky outcrops are not the only thing of interest, however. The strategic location of the cliffs and the importance of some of the military facilities in the waters approached via the Needles mean a fort was constructed overlooking the entry to the Solent during the Victorian era. Large guns were mounted on the top of the cliffs to deal with any enemy that might come.
In the end, no enemy came. However, when the First World War came, there was again a need to protect the approaches. The existing location was not suitable for the size of guns then in use so a new battery was built a little higher up on the cliffs. As with the first one, it stood guard but never engaged any enemy.
In the middle of the 20th century, the location again found a use. Britain had a space launcher development program with the rockets being developed at Saunders Roe in nearby East Cowes. The location on the cliff tops, a long way from most population areas, with nothing but sea below and no overlooking locations for prying eyes meant it was an ideal location for secret programs. A couple of test stands were built for the rockets to be mounted for testing purposes.
Now everything is decommissioned and is open for the public to view. The location on top of the cliffs is very cool anyway but, if you are an engineer type like me, the test facilities are even better. The bunkers and control rooms are worth a look and one of them even has the equipment recreated in cardboard. That might sound strange but it has been done well and even includes a cardboard coat hanging up on the wall. It is a very innovative approach to reproducing what had been taken apart long ago.