The Devil’s Gap begins with a series of steps followed by a narrow pass which leads up to the upper rock. It was something of a must for visitors to Gibraltar - and others - from the mid 18th century onward to walk its complete length. This is what a few of them had to say about it:
I ascended to the summit of the Rock in an hour, by the path called the Devil's-Gap, on a flight of two hundred stone steps, and then after having walked some time, went up four hundred more, which brought me to the signal-house built on the highest part of the mountain. ( 1772 – Richard Twiss ) (See LINK)
We pass, in coming here, through a chasm sunk in the rock about twenty feet deep, called the Devil’s Gap; it leads to a guard-house at the “Queen’s Gate,” - which prevents improper access to the signal-house ( 1811 - Anon – Article in The Tradesman ) (See LINK)
Car and monkeys at Queen’s Gate
The Devil's Gap, a ravine which runs down from the heights above the city, not far from Porral's farm. ( 1884 – R. Stewart Patterson - Topographia Invernalis in Notes and Queries for literary Men ) (See LINK)
Devil’s Gap Steps looking north (Unknown )
Devil’s Gap Steps looking south ( 1930s - L. Roisin ) (See LINK)
It was also mentioned during the Great Siege:
People employed making three batteries, one above Willis’ and two below it, also in making an encamp ground for about 600 men just above the Devil’s Gap where a mortar is planted. ( 1779 – John Spilsbury ) (See LINK)The Devil’s Gap Battery which dates from 1902 is somewhat above the steps and named after the Gap. For a while on formal occasions it was used as a Saluting Battery.
Frightening the birds during a salute from the Devil’s Gap Battery ( Unknown )
According to British Historian Maurice Harvey the guns of Gibraltar were only ever fired in anger twice during WW I one of which was the reputed sinking of a German submarine by the guns of Devil’s Gap Battery. Collateral damage was caused by stray shells which ended up in a cemetery in Algeciras although Harvey does not explain whether there were any consequent diplomatic exchanges.
The Devil’s Gap Battery just before WW I ( 1912 – With thanks to Bart Van Thienen )
The name is not a translation of an older Spanish version as the local name for it is “la Escalera del Monte”.
Further up the Hill and worthy of its other local name - la Escalera del Monte ( 20th century )
The Devil’s Gap Steps also have the honour of being mentioned in the early 20th century by James Joyce in Ulysses:
In Governor street O what a name Id go and drown myself in the first river if I had a name like her O my and all the bits of streets Paradise Ramp and Bedlam Ramp and Rodgers Ramp and Crotchetts Ramp and the devil’s gap steps . . .
As regards Devil’s Gap Cave I have to plead ignorance. Presumably another of Gibraltar’s huge number of caves and also presumable somewhere near the Gap. But whereas other caves are well covered in the literature – and some – St Michael’s and Gorham’s are literally world famous – I cannot find any information on this one. A handwritten map compiled by an enthusiast possibly in the 1950s lists and positions no less than 68 caves. Devil’s Gap Cave is not on it.
The Devil’s Gap footpath at the time of writing ( With thanks to Tommy Finlayson )