If you like walking, St Helena Island is ideal for you. There are walks for all tastes, from those who like their walking to be beautifully scenic but not too difficult, right the way through to walkers whose preference can best be described as ‘intrepid’!
Don’t worry about the weather. For most of the year you need to take plenty of water and some sunscreen with you because the sun can be hot. In the winter it can be wet and at times it can be windy but it’s never cold – take a good waterproof and you’ll be protected against anything the weather is likely to throw at you.
POST BOX WALKS
So-named because of the ‘post box’ situated at the end or summit of each walk, which contains a unique ink-stamp and a visitors’ book where you can leave your messages and thoughts for future walkers.
The walks are graded by difficulty and take you to places of outstanding beauty and interest around the island, providing an ideal opportunity to access, explore and enjoy the wide variety of landscapes, natural and man-made heritage of the island.
A booklet describing the post box walks of St. Helena is available from shops on the island and from the Tourist Office. It provides detailed descriptions, maps and points of interest for all St. Helena’s post box walks. You can also buy the Nature Conservation Group’s book of Post Box Walks.
SOME WALKING TIPS
Experienced walkers on the island contributed the following tips:
- You can buy a good map at the Post Office in Jamestown
- Take plenty of water (at least a litre for every two hours walking)
- Wear a decent pair of walking boots that provide ankle support
- Take a hat and sun cream – you can burn even on an overcast day
- Tell someone where you are going
- If walking near the sea, keep an eye on the tide and beware that rocks which seem dry may be swamped without notice
- Keep close together on some paths to avoid rolling rocks on people below you
- Please take litter home with you!
FESTIVAL OF WALKING
Here are some suggested walks:
Flagstaff is a great walk to get used to the Island with a clear track to follow. Starting at Deadwood, it is a straightforward stroll across Deadwood Plain, past wind turbines, and up through scrub and a small forest. What seems a gentle slope reveals sheer sea cliffs when you reach the summit. The walk allows you to often see the rare endemic Wirebird, and it passes the site of one of the Boer prisoner camps. This is a perfect walk for families, or for an afternoon, with great views across the Island. Allow 1.5 hours.
Diana’s Peak National Park
Diana’s Peak is the highest point on the Island (818m; 2,684ft), and on a clear day offers stunning views right across the Island. The walking is not difficult, but it can be slippery when wet. The walk starts from a parking lay-by on Stitch’s Ridge on the road towards Sandy Bay that leads off the “W” road. Walk back a short distance and the start of the walk, up Cabbage Tree Road grass track, is clearly marked. Following this track brings you on to a ridge, where you bear right towards the Peaks (left here takes you to Halley’s Observatory). On reaching a cannon, bear left then right, following the stepped path onto the Peaks themselves. The first peak reached is Mount Actaeon, and has a large pine on the summit. Continuing on, the path drops slightly and then climbs back up to reach Diana’s Peak itself. This is part of the cloud forest of the Island and has many endemic plants and insects, including massive tree ferns. From Diana’s Peak the walk continues to the third peak along the ridge which is Cuckold’s Point. Carry on from Cuckold’s and down a path through the tree ferns. At the bottom turn left along a broad track and follow this below the peaks, rejoining the outward path below Mount Actaeon. Then retrace your steps back along Cabbage Tree Road. Allow 2-3 hours.
Great Stone Top
Great Stone Top is reached from Levelwood, at the site of the Bellstone. The route follows a forestry track that descends through eucalyptus forest into acacia woodland leading down to an expanse of creeper scrub. From here on the footpath skirts around Boxwood Hill and Little Stone Top before ascending Great Stone Top. At the summit, spectacular views back to the Central Ridge and across Prosperous Bay Plain can be enjoyed along with magnificent sea cliffs. Great Stone Top offers a good observation point for seabird watching.
More challenging walks include The Barn and Powells Valley. A new circular walk from Jamestown is being developed that will take in High Knoll Fort and the Heart Shaped Waterfall. And, of course, every walker should walk Jacob’s Ladder.