Sunday, 5 August 2018

A Bridge at Nesher Park and Rosh Hanikra

As you know from my recent post, Mister Handmade in Israel recently celebrated his birthday. He is truly impossible to buy gifts for. He really doesn't want anything (whereas I always have half of Etsy on my gift list!). I decided to arrange a mini getaway for him instead. Of course I got to join in on it as well!
We started off our weekend at Nesher Park in the town of Nesher, a city in the Haifa District of Israel. Nesher Park covers an area of 200 dunams (200,000 square metres) and is located on the northern side of the Carmel Mountain. The main feature of the park is two suspension bridges, about 70 metres in length, spanning a ravine cut by a seasonal winter river, Nahal Katia. The bridges are constructed from steel ropes and beams and sway as people walk across them.
A marked trail for the bridges crosses the river on one bridge and returns via the second bridge. We reached the first bridge by an easy, unpaved path along the northern bank of the stream. Crossing the bridge was a bit daunting at first (I am not great with heights) but I geared up for the occasion and it was well worth it. The views of the park below were wonderful! The only negative was that there was quite a lot of rubbish lying around areas of the park. Why can't people clean up after themselves?
From the bridges we took in a breathtaking view of the surrounding area, including the slope beneath the University of Haifa, which is entirely covered by a natural, well-developed forest, and views down towards the Zevulun Valley. The forest has Israeli oak, pine, Greek strawberry trees, carob, and terebinth trees. Hiking trails lead through the forest and down into the riverbed and, in addition to the trails and the suspension bridges, the park has picnic tables and a playground.
It was a lovely place to visit for a short hike and some nice views.
We stayed in the port city of Acre overnight, which I intend to write about in another post. On the second day of our trip, after exploring the old city, we made our way further north to Rosh Hanikra, which we last visited back in 2013.
Rosh Hanikra, which literally means "Head of the Grottoes", is a geologic formation on the border between Israel and Lebanon. It is a white chalk cliff face which opens up into spectacular grottoes and is the only cliff in Israel that descends straight into the sea. Geologists have revealed that its bottom layer is made of hard limestone, the middle is soft chalk embedded with flint, and the top layer is hard, porous dolomite.
At the base of the cliff  are cavernous tunnels formed by sea action on the soft chalk rock. They branch off in various directions with some interconnecting segments. In the past the only access to them was from the sea and experienced divers were the only ones capable of visiting. Today a cable car takes visitors down to see the grottoes, though Mister Handmade in Israel and I didn't go into the grottoes on this occasion. Instead we chose to go down to the shore at Rosh Hanikra Sea Reserve, after first admiring the picture-perfect views from the top, of Achziv beach with its pedestrian promenade stretching south though Nahariya to Haifa.
People usually associate crystal clear water with Greece, but this area of Israel's coastline looks very similar. Mister Handmade in Israel and I spent quite some time simply watching the waves from the Mediterranean sea crashing onto the rocks and observing the military ship which was patrolling the area, since Rosh Hanikra is so close to the Lebanon border. Though we didn't notice it, in the water you can apparently see a line of buoys separating Israel from Lebanon, one of which is a sonobuoy to detect any surface or underwater activity. We could easily see the so-called "Elephant's Leg", a natural formation created in the cliff by the seawater, which looks like a trunk or a leg. Afterwards we enjoyed walking along the rocky beach, admiring the clear water, the ponds and the outstanding rock formations.
Rosh Hanikra once served as a passage point for trade caravans and armies between Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and Africa. In 1943 a tunnel was built by the British to connect the local and Lebanese rail networks and to establish a continuous rail route from Egypt via Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey to Europe for troops and supplies. Part of the Ha'apala (Illegal immigration) fleeing from the Nazis made use of this tunnel to find haven in The Land of Israel.
The bridge and tunnels were all constructed by engineering units of the British Army from South Africa and New Zealand. A sign of the date of the construction can be seen above the entrance to the tunnel, below. The inscription "40th Coy SAEC" (South African Engineering Corp, company 40) is the name of the South African survey unit that designed and constructed the railway, together with the New Zealand engineering unit.
The railway bridge at Rosh Hanikra was spared by the Haganah during the 1946 Night of the Bridges operation. The aim of Operation Markolet - known as "Night of the Bridges" - was to destroy 8 bridges linking British Mandatory Palestine to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, in order to cut off British Army transportation. However, in February 1948, following a late-1947 British announcement that they would withdraw from Palestine months ahead of schedule, the western end of the bridge at Rosh Hanikra was destroyed by Jewish underground fighters, under the noses of the British soldiers. The aim was to prevent Lebanese arms being smuggled into the newly founded State of Israel. As repairs to the bridge were prohibitively expensive, the tunnels were later completely sealed.
The Lebanese railways have been largely dismantled while the Coastal Railway in Israel currently ends near Nahariya, several kilometres to the south. No train will arrive at Rosh Hanikra until there will be peace between Lebanon and Israel.
Sunday Snap


Jesh StG said...

Am laughing because I have the same thing with hubs b'day. Fortunately his b'day is always around Thanksgiving, so a lot of events going on then. Oh goodness, I don't know about bridges that sway!! Especially when they are this long! Great pics, it seems like you enoy it:) Hope your better half did too! Great for All Seasons - enjoy your week:)

Anne Stone Sweet said...

What a fantastic trip, I hope your husband appreciated the gift. The photos are all amazing. That bridge!! I would love to go across it if I could still walk, even if it wobbled! I'm not sure about doing it in a wheelchair though.
The beaches at Rosh hanikra look amazing too. What a beautiful place, the sea looks very inviting.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Thanks for sharing your amazing photography with us. I'm so glad you enjoyed the trek but I'm not a fan of swinging bridges.

VeggieMummy said...

What is it with men and birthdays? We have the same problem, with R saying he never wants anything. Your trip was a great idea, but I'm not sure that I'd have managed those bridges!

Tamar SB said...

Rosh Hanikra is probably my favorite spot in Israel!!
That bridge looks amazing!

Sheltie Times said...

What an amazing trip. Thanks for letting us share.

Kim Carberry said...

What a fantastic treat for Mister Handmade in Israel's birthday!
The photos are amazing! I don't know how well I would take the bridges. They look a little high for me. #MMBC

Su-sieee! Mac said...

A Happy Birthday to Mister Handmade in Israel. A getaway, even several hours, is the Husband's and my birthday gift to each other. Fun and easy. Thanks for sharing the birthday getaway. I enjoyed the photos and learning about the history of the places.

Tom said... I love your gorgeous seascapes! The bridge on the other hand I'll pass on do to my fear of heights! Thanks for sharing, enjoy your week.

Jeanna said...

You're right, I don't associate Israel with that kind of beautiful, clear water and coastline. You are very brave to cross those bridges, I don't think I could, but the photos are worth it. A get-away like that is the perfect birthday gift.

Esther said...

Wow, I like the look of that bridge. And the walk along the cliffs, I'd love that! #WanderfulWednesdays

A Colorful World said...

An awesome birthday get-away! Beautiful photos of unexpected views. Loved it!

Allison said...

We love taking trips and making memories for birthday and Christmas gifts (as opposed to giving tangible gifts). They mean so much more than gifts that will just be forgotten in a few months. #wanderfulwednesday

Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid said...

Oh, how I would love to go back and visit Israel - I spent a couple of amazing years there on a kibbutz in the 90's and had some amazing adventures. This post reminds me of what a beautiful country it is! I think Mr Handmade in Israel is on to something about collecting memories not things. Hubby and I have stopped giving "things" at birthdays and gifted ourselves trips instead. We've had some amazing adventures and made so many lovely memories!

Debbie Roberts - Debs Random Writings said...

Hi Lisa, my husband is also difficult to buy for, whereas I know exactly what I want. Saying that though he tends to buy things he wants or needs throughout the year, but I'm happy to wait... The trail at Nesher Park reminds me of some of the walks we do in winter here, but without the bridge. I take my hat off to you for walking across it, I'd certainly be hesitant... The grottoes sound interesting to visit, but I can also see why you opted for the walk, again it does look very similar to the coastline in Greece... I checked out the Greek strawberry tree and I'll be on the lookout for it now. There is a bush we call a wild strawberry, but it's nothing like that and also not very much like a strawberry either!

Thank you for popping by and linking up to #keepingitreal.


Jibber JabberUK said...

What a great trip with two very different landscapes. I've just looked up a map where the two places are to get a better idea of where they are located.

Nikki-ann said...

I'm not sure I could cross that bridge... I'd probably freeze up a few steps over! :D Wonderful coastal shots :)

Jayne SMABL said...

What a lovely present for your husband's birthday and what gorgeous photos. I'm not sure I would be brave enough to do the bridge!

Thanks for sharing with #MMBC. x

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