Famous Azure Window in Malta collapsed during a storm on March 8, 2017. Not only did the lintel itself collapse, but the entire outer column fell into the sea.
The arch was considered at risk of collapse and walking across the arch was prohibited only last December. And in January, a slab of rock fell off a lateral face of the outer column during high seas.
The spectacular arch was featured in many movies, including Game of Thrones. Some history of partial collapse can be seen in these movies. In the scene below from the 1981 movie Clash of the Titans, the underside of the arch is flat.
In the scene below from the 2002 movie The Count of Monte Christo, it can be seen that the underside of the lintel has fallen to create a more arced shape.
A special thanks to Josh Summers of Far West China for providing this update and photos.
Shipton’s Arch in China is one of the world’s giant arches and is already described in some detail on the NABS website. What’s new is that a wooden walkway has been built to provide easy access to view the arch. The 3-minute video below shows the new access (note that when the video states the height of the arch is 1500 feet, that does not refer to the opening itself, which is 1200 feet high).
Shipton’s Arch is located in the mountains northwest of the city of Kashgar, part of China’s far west province of Xinjiang. For the first decade following the 2000 National Geographic expedition that re-discovered the arch, foreign travelers began to request a visit to the arch with local travel agencies. Special arrangements had to be made and at first many of the agencies had no idea what the foreigners were talking about—a proper name in Chinese wasn’t given to the arch until the late 2000s (the name is variously transliterated as “Toshuk Tagh“ or “Tushuk Tash“ in the Uyghur language or Ātúshi tiānmén in Chinese).
These pioneering travelers, including Ray Millar of NABS, talk about an arduous climb that included a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a local guide and a number of rickety ladders.
All of that—for better or worse—has changed.
A new road leads from the highway to a new visitor’s center right next to the trail head. Guides are no longer necessary and the ladders have been replaced by strong staircases. The 1.8-mile trail to the arch is still a tiring climb that requires a certain level of fitness from those that visit. However, it’s no longer the dangerous expedition it once was.
The new paved entrance to Shipton’s Arch
Climbing the stairs up the valley to Shipton’s Arch
The first glimpse of the arch during the hike.
To make your own visit to Shipton’s Arch, all you need to do is arrange transportation from Kashgar for the day. This can be done either through a travel agency or by hiring a taxi off the street. For the latter, you can use the local Uyghur or Chinese (Mandarin) name, or bring a photo so you can point to it.
Hired transportation, depending on the type of car and season, can cost anywhere from 500-800 Yuan per day ($75-$120), so it’s best to get a group together if possible.
Once you reach the visitors center, which can take 1-2 hours of driving, you will be required to purchase an entrance ticket. They point you on your way and off you go!
Josh recommends bringing water and snacks since there is no place to stop and buy this during your trip. He also suggests that many tour companies offer the option to either arrive super early or stay late to see the sunrise/sunset and says it’s gorgeous. The only problem is hiking in the dark, so bring good flashlights.
NABS member Josh Summers is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China’s western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future. You can find his original blog on this subject here.
One of the most famous arches in Malta is Azure Window, which has been featured in several movies and in Game of Thrones. A lesser known but quite similar arch can be found nearby, however, known as the Arch of Wied il Mielah (NABSQNO 33S-429115-3993060). Both are near the town of Gharb. Azure window is due west, and Wied il Mielah is the same distance due north. The photo below is by Franklin Camilleri.
Our intrepid arch hunter Guilain Debossens reports the 900th arch that he has documented in France: Barri Troué.
This natural arch is located on the lower section of the canyon of Rimouren near the village of Saint-Montant in the Ardèche department of France. The opening has a measured span of 18 feet. Barri is an old Provençal name for a rocky ledge. Barri Troué is named (but not precisely located) on the IGN topographic map Top 25 number 2939 West Gorges de l’Ardèche (pleat B9).
Below are three photos of Barri Troué. About 95% of the arches Guilain has documented in France are on his website.
Pont d’Arc in France experienced flooding on April 4, 2016, as can be seen in the two photos below showing the Ardeche River at normal flow followed by a photo on April 4.
A much larger flood occurred on September 19, 2014, as can be seen in the first 30 seconds of the video below.
Guilain Debossens reports that there is an historic plaque fixed on the cliff two meters above the road at the entrance of the Gorges de l’Ardèche. The plaque indicates that the Ardèche River reached the level of the plaque, 55 feet above normal flow, during the historic flood of September 22, 1890. It was the most severe flood since man developed photography, but not of all time of course.
Guilain found the photo below taken during this historic flood. The text written on the back said the flood was so huge that the Ardeche River retook the abandoned meander during this event.
Long Island Arch, Five Islands, Nova Scotia, collapsed on October 19, 2015. The arch, composed of basalt, was located on the Parrsboro Shore of the Bay of Fundy. The before and after photos above are courtesy of Fundy Geological Museum. The short video below includes footage from the day before the collapse, where rubble has already accumulated in the opening before the final collapse.
Your webmaster and Blog editor David Brandt-Erichsen got a new job as Natural Arch Consultant when NABS was asked by Red Bull Adventure for assistance in compiling a collection of arch photos. Although it was one-time only and there was no pay, it’s a start!
The NABS Board and a few other members joined in on the fun of making suggestions, and two of our intrepid international arch hunters, Ray Millar and Gunter Welz, actually got paid for some photos.
The Red Bull editors of course made the final selection. The article was published July 28:
The British TV series Doc Martin (a “dramedy” shown in the U.S. on PBS) takes place in the fictional seaside village of Portwenn and is filmed on location in the small quaint picturesque village of Port Isaac on the north coast of Cornwall. There are two small quaint picturesque arches nearby (which as far as I know have not been seen in the ongoing TV show).
I have seen this arch called by its singular name Lady’s Window on the Internet but it is marked on the Ordnance Survey map as plural so I will use the plural form. It is about 7 miles from Port Isaac roughly midway between Boscastle and Tintagel, legendary site of King Arthur’s Camelot. It is near the small village of Trevalga just off the coastal path to the west. The opening is barely visible from the path but there is a wooden post marking a grid point by the arch. The photo was taken from a nice bench where you can sit and look at the views. It is at 30U-378275-5616085 and has a span of 6 feet and a height of 9 feet.
St. Nectan’s Kieve
This waterfall natural bridge is close to the village of Trethevey and there is a parking area for it off the road from Boscastle to Tintagel. When I was there about 10 years ago I had to walk a two track road that led to a small cafe and tearoom. Here steps lead down to a waterfall about 60 feet high where the River Trevillet has punched a hole through the kieve (basin). A fee is charged. There is now a one-mile trail that goes alongside the river before climbing up to the tearoom.
The sixth century Saint Nectan is believed to have had a hermitage above the waterfall and is said to have rung a silver bell to warn shipping about the rocks at the mouth of the valley. It is said to be a mystical place where fairies, piskies (Cornish pixies) and spirits play. Visitors often leave ribbons, crystals and bells on the rocks and foliage. There are a number of small piles of flat stones by the bridge known as fairy stacks.
It is at 30U-378734-5613967. It probably has a span of about 8 feet and a height of about 9 feet (maybe less).
A couple of photos of the village of Port Isaac are below. Doc Martin’s house is the smaller one in the center of the first photo.