The grand canyons of Europe

Inside the Gola su Gorropu gorge in Sardinia
Inside the Gola su Gorropu gorge in Sardinia Credit: getty
is the deepest gorge in Europe. It’s not (see below). But that doesn’t really matter when you’re standing at the bottom of an almighty vertical wall of rock and there’s a climber dangling from a precarious handhold high above your head.

Did I say vertical? At this point, the wall – all 1,300ft of it – leans oppressively inwards. Just a few yards away, the opposite cliff soars skywards and in between is a traffic jam of car-sized boulders, as white and smooth as pebbles.

Looking up, the cobalt sky is a narrow ribbon between the rims.

Folklore says that you can see stars during the daytime. Unlikely, but not as fanciful as the legend that tells of evil creatures creeping out of the gorge at night to steal away men and animals.

I love these tales; they sit nicely with my own vivid impressions of Sardinia’s natural poster boy. Viewed from both the other side of the valley and down in the gorge’s dungeons, Gorropu looks like it was cut with a broken hacksaw blade. It splits apart the formidable Supramonte limestone massif that dominates the east of this great oblong of an island.