The Gorham’s Cave Complex World Heritage Office has detected two incursions this week into Gorham’s, Vanguard and Bennett’s Caves by persons landing from kayaks.
The public is reminded that landing on Governor’s Beach and accessing the caves is prohibited. It is an offence under the Gorham’s Cave Complex Regulations, 2019. Persons landing without permission are guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine up to level 5 on the standard scale, or both. Security cameras monitor attempts to access the site by sea and these are immediately reported to the Royal Gibraltar Police. The site is clearly demarcated and signs indicate that access is prohibited.
The reasons are threefold:
1) On the one hand stepping over archaeological deposits causes damage. This can be done inadvertently, simply by walking over sensitive deposits. Once damage is done, there is no going back and thousands of years of our history are destroyed with no hope of recovery. It is for this reason primarily that visits to the site by land are with professional guides and subject to an annual quota.
2) The second reason is public safety. Access to the site follows prescribed rules and includes the compulsory wearing of hard hats as rock falls are possible at any time of the year. The risk is not just on landing but while sailing or floating past. For this reason, the public is reminded to keep to a safe distance offshore. Sailing or floating past close to the base of the cliffs is dangerous, especially when not wearing hard hats. On land, access also requires professional guiding and the use of appropriate footwear as there are rocky areas that are dangerous if attempted unescorted and without proper gear.
3) There are sensitive listed bird species nesting within the complex and unescorted access creates a direct risk to wildlife.
The Gorham’s Cave Complex is unique and fragile. It is the heritage of all of us and we should all exercise responsibility by not landing or getting close to the site. Remember, stepping on what may appear to be sand will destroy a heritage that has remained undisturbed for tens of thousands of years.