For somebody like myself who loves the outdoors, St. Helena is a damned good place to be. True, it is a small island, but it is also a marvellously diverse one. Even better, it is one riddled with paths, ranging from well marked, used and nice and relaxed, to almost entirely unmarked and involving literally clinging to the sides of cliff faces and trying not to think of the several hundred metre drop below. As well as the numerous 'normal' trails and paths (generally, those that actually go somewhere), the St. Helena Conservation Group has produced a set of 27 postbox walks EG: At the end of each walk is a postbox, with a book to sign, and an ink stamp to prove you've been there. When i first arrived, I resolved to walk as many as possible, and, ideally, all of them.
The walks are ranked into 1-10. Very roughly, 1 is easy, and 10 is almost death defying. However walking on St. Helena often involves tricky sections, and lots of the group is quite loose and potentially dangerous, and perhaps more relevantly, the original ranking system seems to have been undertaken by a mountain goat. As a consequence the Tourist office won't even admit that they have any information for walks ranked 6 or higher, and will only give such info out if you can prove that you have been there with a reliable local guide first. That might sounds like overkill, especially if you are a proficient walker. But on an island with no mobile phone or radios, and no helicopter to help search for you, if you get into trouble or have an accident, just finding you can be very hard work.
Though I have got out as much as possible, I have already realised that I won't actually make it down all the walks, just because of time considerations: Lacking regular transport to get to the starting points of some of the walks is an issue, but there is simply too much else to do, to many family to visit and some of the walks have become favourites which I have done more than once instead of branching out.
One such walk – up the Barnes Road - is not even a postbox walk, but is instead an often overgrown back way out town past the Heart Shaped waterfall, and used only by a small handful of people (or, as we are known to the locals, idiots) and is an old road, that wouldn't really actually require that much effort to rebuilt and make passable by vehicles, although parts have fallen away (currently requiring one interesting balancing act to avoid falling into a ravine) and large chunks of the top are heavily overgrown. I also discovered, heading down it late one afternoon just before the sun went down, that there are some huuuuge rats that live along there.
Moving swiftly on.
So here, in mostly pictoral form, are some of my favourite walks:
Lot's Wife's Pond
Shore Island and George Island hiding in the mist. 10minutes later we were covered in mist and clouds, and it was raining - so we had to sit in the rain for 2hours waiting for the visibility to improve enough so we could see the path well enough to leave without falling off the side of a 500m sheer cliff...