Articles tagged with "falkland islands"

The war memorial

The war memorial

On top of Sappers Hill stands a memorial to the British who died in the final, fierce fight for Stanley. I watched the sun set from there on my last night in the Falklands, and thought again about the madness of war and the hundreds of people who died here thirty years ago. A lot of the people I’d met had lived through the occupation of the islands. On Saunders, the Argentinians had never landed but the residents there watched as they flew overhead and sailed past. A hundred islanders had been held hostage in Goose Green. And I’d met someone whose aunt had been one of the three islanders killed in the war, hit by a British shell during the battle for Stanley. And all for islands so bleak and desolate that they are barely even populated outside Stanley.

I think that the government of the Falklands should pay all the costs for any Argentinian who wants to visit these islands. I cannot seriously imagine that many would go home still believing that there was any sense in Argentina claiming them.


In the hills

In the hills

I went for a walk into the hills outside Stanley. A few spots of rain fell as I passed minefields just outside town, and the skies looked threatening. I climbed up Sappers Hill, and looked out along the road to Mount Pleasant. Mount Tumbledown looked epic and threatening and I wanted to go there, but there was no time. Before I came to the islands I was pretty sure that one week wouldn’t have been long enough but I was worried that two weeks would be way too long. It definitely wasn’t. Already I was thinking about all the things I hadn’t managed to see and wondering how long it would be before I could come here again.


Flight back to Stanley

Flight back to Stanley

The flight to Bleaker had taken about 25 minutes. The journey back was a whole different story. The planes start and finish in Stanley but they go wherever in the islands they are needed, and today there were people in West Falkland who needed to get around.

So we took off from Bleaker and headed directly away from Stanley. We stopped at Fox Bay, Port Edgar and then Shallow Harbour and at each stop a few people got off and a few people got on. They all seemed to know each other and exchanged friendly greetings, before slightly suspiciously acknowledging the outside in the back of the plane.

We finally got back to Stanley nearly three hours after leaving Bleaker. My ears were buzzing from the propeller noise and my legs were cramped, but I was pretty happy I’d had the chance to see a whole lot of West Falkland.


Moonrise over penguins

Moonrise over penguins

The beach which had been empty during the day took on a whole different character as night fell. Thousands of gentoo penguins came in from the sea and gathered there before heading inland to their colony. All across the bay, penguins were leaping as they came in, bursting from the waves in huge groups and running up onto the sand. A full moon rose just as the sun set.

On a little map of Bleaker Island that I had, a line between the beach and the penguin colony was marked as the “gentoo highway”, which I thought sounded pretty funny. But actually it was a pretty accurate name – at rush hour on the gentoo highway there was a huge column of penguins all heading inland, waddling up the hill.


Bleaker Island

Bleaker Island

I drove back to Stanley, and caught a flight to Bleaker Island. It was just me on the plane, so I sat in the front and chatted to the pilot as we flew south. A ship had run aground just outside Stanley harbour just as we took off.

There were two people on Bleaker while I was there – one permanent resident, and me. On a hot, sunny and calm day, I wandered all around the island. In absolute peace I found my way to its beach, empty in the midday sun. The sea was turquoise, the sun beat down, and Bleaker felt more like a tropical island than a windswept South Atlantic one.