7th to 12th November
Having been through the Falklands before I was keen to explore some new parts, specifically some of the hills to the west of Stanley. Saturday was clear and sunny so the ship's doctor and I headed that way, through the town and all the way to the end of the inlet upon which the harbour and town is based. That in itself took about an hour and a half. Striking off across the moorland which makes up the majority of the island terrain we headed in a fairly straight line for the top of Mount Tumbledown. The exposed rock, reaching out of the grass at the top, belies a series of ridges running across the northern part of east Falkland.
Views from the top of Mt Tumbledown.
Scrambling though this we got spectacular views back down to the ship and west across the rest of the island. As we sat and ate our lunch we were approached by a confident turkey vulture watching us with interest.
Turkey vulture in the foreground, cloud rolling over Stanley in the background.
Further along we came to a memorial to those killed on the mountain in the 1982 war. While we were enjoying scrambling round in shorts and t-shirt on a sunny day, with minimal kit and provisions, it was difficult to imagine it any different. Yet it was impossible not to try and imagine being up there cold and wet, sleep-deprived, desperate and under fire. Whatever your thoughts on the conflict itself, the horrors those on Mt Tumbledown and the surrounding peaks endured is quite a thing and should not be forgotten.
The memorial cross on Mt Tumbledown.
As we arrived back at the ship a few hours later we met the rest of the station staff and marine scientists who had travelled down on the long, long flight via Chile. Understandably everyone was in need of a good shower and long sleep, but that didn't prevent us exploring and enjoying the rest of our time around Stanley.
I managed to paddle in the sea at surf bay and two trips round to gypsy cove, seeing a total of five Magellanic penguins and a few Peale's dolphins as well as the smaller Falkland songbirds. One of those trips was called short due to heavy rain while the second needed a quick March to get back to the ship just two minutes before shore leave was cancelled.
An informative sign at Surf Bay.
I managed more paddling in the sea at berthas beach while the ship was refueling. Commerson’s dolphins were surfing back and forth along breaking waves, their little black and white bodies showing up in the clear blue waters.
Dramatic clouds over Bertha's Beach.
Further along the beach a small colony of Gentoo penguins walked up the sandy beach and through a grassy field, dodging sheep to get to their nests. The combination of penguins and sheep is an amusing and confusing sight.
Gentoo penguins amongst the sheep.
Before our proper departure we had to return once again to Stanley to pick up a replacement crew member, covering for illness, before we could properly set off south on Thursday evening.
Off to sea!
Waving goodbye to Stanley and the Falkland Islands,