Saturday, 8 October 2016

West is Best.....

[The blog of expat Brits living in the South Atlantic, on the Falkland Islands - a little of Britain, but with an identity all of its own.  This week, travelling with a lovely friend and her rugged Land Rover, we managed a road trip on West Falkland: a big, sparsely-populated island given over to sheep farming and trout fishing.....]

To break the journey to the West, we stopped overnight at the very comfortable Darwin House, about 60 miles south-west of Stanley, the capital of the Falklands.  "Smoko" can be afternoon tea or morning coffee - a time to enjoy the scenery and some home baking......
Smoko at Darwin House

We had taken the long route to Darwin, on the road that keeps to the north of the spine of mountains that traverse East Falklands. And we had a long journey on West Falkland, so it made sense to pause and then get the ferry in the morning.
Looking north from Darwin
Darwin House, with Mount Usborne in the distance. 
Detail of the stone corral, Darwin
Cloud cover on Mt Usborne through the emergency exit, Darwin House
 The ferry terminal is about 20 miles from Darwin, so we had a leisurely breakfast and drove to the end of the road, where a small colony of Gentoo penguins greeted us.
Gentoo Penguins waiting at the ferry terminal, Newhaven
 After a short wait, the ferry came into sight, and disgorged some of the revellers who had been celebrating 150 years of the Port Howard Farm over the weekend. Today was Peat Cutting Monday - a public holiday, so no-one was rushing....
Concordia Bay approaches Newhaven
Reversing onto ferry with several skilled drivers of mechanical diggers watching was fairly stressful, but I managed not to hit anything or any of the crew!

A crowded deck
 The crossing of Falkland Sound took about 90 minutes and was uneventful. The main change was the approaching fog.....
The ship's clinometer shows the tilt!
Port Howard Lodge
War remnants are easy to find
 After passing through Port Howard, we headed for Hill Cove on the north coast.
I'm convinced miles are longer on the West.....
 The fog we were to see for the next two days was gradually spreading over the landscape.
The duvet clouds separate the mountains
The old road...
 But the remote roads were a joy to drive, once we got used to the surface and the lack of traffic.
Roads are direct....
What a difference a day makes...
Islands in the sun
Roy Cove
Big House, Roy Cove
National Forest, Hill Cove
Coming in under the fog
Over 100 miniature horses on one farm
Hardy miniature horses
One of the many variations of a Variable Hawk
Shallow Bay
View to Keppel Island 
Stone buildings are unusual on the Falklands
Clean and simple
Eventually, the fog lifted
Keppel Island, former Missionary station

Overlooking Keppel Island
Hill Cove

Shallow Bay, with Pebble Island in the distance.
 We visited a couple of outlying farms and settlements, where,if we did bump into people, we were told that it was a shame we couldn't see the wonderful views. But on day three, the fog lifted and we realised why people had recommended the West ("West is Best")!
One of the three cars we saw in 4 days.....
Straight stretch
Chartres River
Chartres settlement
Soon, we headed south to Fox Bay, via a picnic stop in Chartres.....Sun all the way.
Post Office Museum, Fox Bay East
Postal Museum, Fox Bay East. Opened by Princess Anne this year.
Small horses, Fox Bay West
Fox Bay West
Black Shanty House, Fox Bay West
Fox Bay West, dawn
Upland Geese doing 40mph. No speed limit on the West
Heading for the ferry on fast open roads.
Sailing home
 After an all-too-brief stay in Fox Bay, we headed north again for the ferry back to the East.
Missing the West already

A wonderful trip, despite the fog.  And an opportunity to briefly meet some friendly farmers for whom the West is home, and who shared their home with us. Lastly, thanks to fellow-travellers for photos, transport and great week.

More soon


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