Friday, 3 February 2012

One Day I walked out from Stanley....

"One Day I walked out from Stanley".  No, not an entry in David Livingstone's diaries of his travel in darkest Africa. Just a description of a very pleasant day in the Falklands.
Upland geese with Hanseatic in harbour
(Chores done...) The sun was shining but there was a cool breeze as I set off for the day. From my house on the hill, I could see an expedition ship, Hanseatic, in the harbour. This had about 200 passengers, so the town wouldn't be swamped by visitors. In fact, I was to pass only one other person during the day.
Heading downhill to the shore, I passed the Narrows Bar, opposite the Narrows entrance to Stanley Harbour. This tight entrance restricts the bigger cruise ships to the outer bay.
Kelp goslings
From here, I could see the picturesque wreck, Lady Elizabeth, at the end of the harbour. There are many wrecks around Stanley and the Islands, but this one is close to shore and virtually a tourist attraction.
Lady Elizabeth
Using my Nordic Walking poles on the foreshore, I passed the potato fields, just about ready for harvesting, and then arrived at the massive floating docks and warehouse complex that was left behind after the conflict, and subsequent reconstruction, 30 years ago.
Bridge to floating dock.  (One for Duncan?)
Continuing past the oil storage tanks, the path was now surrounded by diddle-dee plants, unique to the Falklands with their bright red berries beginning to appear.  They make great jam.
Diddle-dee berries

Road Maintenance
I crossed a creek by way of a bridge built by Royal Engineers, and noted the warnings not to touch anything on the shore, as mines had been washed up here in the past. A few minutes later, I was walking past Lady Elizabeth and had a view back to Stanley, and mountains beyond.

I also had some waders and shoreline birds such as Oystercatchers for company, and unlike most birds, they didn't fly away, as they have little fear of Man, having only come across us relatively recently in the evolutionary cycle. I'd always wanted to photograph an Oystercatcher, but the British ones wouldn't let me within 100 yards....
Magellanic Oystercatcher
I then followed the coastline for a couple of miles, skirting the beautiful Yorke Bay and frustrated that the pristine, sandy beaches were out of bounds, except to penguins.
Only penguins go here

Sole penguin, centre.

The end is in sight
Eventually, my destination came in sight. A retired lighthouse at the most easterly point of the Falklands.
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse
Sign on the door - “To gain entry, please collect key from Museum”. Bother! Never mind, the views from ground level were pretty good. Looking north, I could make out Volunteer Point, where most of the King Penguins are. Beyond that, was Ascension Island and the UK.
Merchant seaman memorial   Southwards, was the Antarctic Peninsula, closer than South Georgia, at around 600 miles. A sobering view. Even more sobering was the memorial to seamen who had been killed when “Atlantic Conveyor” was attacked during the Falklands Conflict, 30 years ago.

Somehow, I think it more sad that merchant seamen were killed then. They didn't sign up for the military action. They were just doing their job as deckhands, cooks, navigators, etc..

Looking East. Next land is 12,000 miles away!
Eastwards, was the southern ocean. The next LAND in that direction was the west coast of Chile, 12,700 miles away!!

Turning round and heading west, I passed Stanley's tiny airport, which was bombed by Vulcan bombers in 1982 to prevent being used by invading forces. The “domestic” flights to outlying islands start and finish here, and I hope to be on one myself soon.

Stanley airport

No need for online checkin – simply listen for your name being read out on the radio the night before you fly!
Bridge built by Royal Engineers
Passing the Lady Elizabeth again, and the road graders (smoothing the gravel roads), I finally made it back to town, where I popped into the Seamen's Mission for an excellent bacon roll. Sky News was on the TV, and the reporter was saying how the Falklanders were looking forward to greeting Prince William. Oh no – more journalists!

A cracking day! 30,000 steps, 23 kms. Skuas, oystercatchers, Turkey Vultures, a Magellanic penguin, Upland Geese, Kelp Geese, and goslings, wrens (probably), and plenty of photos.

Tomorrow, rain is forecast. The gardens need it!


1 comment:

  1. Who needs reporters on the Falklands when we've got Peter? Not sure that I would be up to keeping up with you in reality but the virtual walk has been fascinating.