Heart Shaped Waterfall is one of the Seven Wonders of St. Helena. It is a 90m (295ft) waterfall which runs mostly in the winter and early spring, fed by the winter rains. In summer it is frequently dry. The water is sourced from the hinterland above James Valley and thereby arrives at the top of the waterfall.
The land containing the waterfall was originally part of the French properties transferred to Napoleon III in 1858 after the death of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821. The land was transferred to the St. Helena National Trust in 2007 by French Consul Michel Dancoisne-Martineau.
In 2008-2010 the St. Helena National Trust refurbished the woodland walk that leads from Barnes Road, at the southern end of James Valley, up to the base of the waterfall, improving the footpaths and building a viewing platform beside the waterfall’s plunge pool. The trail opened in 2011. This is a pleasant afternoon stroll from Jamestown, particularly enjoyable on a warm afternoon when the shade of the trees is welcome. Paddling in the plunge pool is not actually prohibited, though the rocks can be rather slippery.
The reason for the waterfall’s name is obvious from the photographs. And yet it seems to have acquired this name only during the last 100 years or so. “St. Helena, The Historic Island, From Its Discovery To The Present Date”, By E. L. Jackson, published in 1905, refers to it only as “the waterfall”. Who assigned it its current name remains a mystery.
OPENING OF HEART SHAPED WATERFALL TRAIL
Article from the St. Helena Independent, published 7th January 2011
A special event to mark the official opening of the St. Helena National Trust’s new footpath to the Heart Shaped Waterfall was attended by over 120 people on Wednesday 22nd December.
There was a short opening ceremony before Miss St. Helena, Stacey Thomas declared the Heart Shaped Waterfall Trail officially open. She paid tribute to all the hard work put into building the new footpath and said that everyone involved should be proud of themselves.
Most of the crowd then walked up to the waterfall, enjoying the new 1km long footpath. On the way they were shown the new endemics area, where St. Helena species such as Bastard Gumwood and Ebony have been planted, and the old agricultural terrace walls that have been rebuilt. At the top of the walk people relaxed on the new viewing platform and took photos of the Waterfall.
Many Saints who had grown up near to the Waterfall attended. On the walk they talked about their experiences of the Valley, including hunting pigeons on the cliffs, picking red dates and collecting horse beads. Some of their stories will be included in the new interpretation panels which will be installed early in 2011.
During the opening ceremony St. Helena National Trust Director Jamie Roberts gave special thanks to all those who had worked on the Waterfall project:
Building the new trail was a real challenge. Because of the steep Valley sides there was no way we could use machinery or even donkeys. All the materials – even the bridge beams which weighed over half a ton each – had to be carried up the Valley by humans. The quality of the walkways, bridges and staircases is down to the hard work of many people. I’d like to pay particular tribute to Brian Davies, who showed amazing stamina and never gave up, and Tom Wortley who managed to keep up with him. The project couldn’t have happened without Andrew Darlow, who battled through the wild mango and found a route for the path. They were supported by St. Helena National Trust staff Hensil and Keith and many volunteers. The project succeeded because it was a real team effort.
The Trust Director highlighted that the new trail wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of the French Consul, Michel Dancoisne-Martineau, who donated the Heart Shaped Waterfall land to the St. Helena National Trust in 2007.
Thanks were also expressed to the Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP) which funded the project.