Monday, March 5, 2018

Looking Back: St. Helena

St. seems like a lifetime ago that we were there!  In fact, it was only about 6 weeks and almost 4,000 miles ago! Having arrived in Grenada yesterday, we now have some internet access, although it is slow!

I have so many pictures of this unique island (St. Helena) that I wanted to share, and I hope that you can recall the post where I described our time there.  If not, I encourage you to read it, (You can reach it by clicking here), as there are many historic facts in there, that I have not repeated here.   Either way, having read it or not, here is a picture story of our time in St. Helena, "Secret of the South Atlantic":

The capital of Jamestown is nestled between two barren mountains

Main Street:  Jamestown

Main street has been described as "one of the best examples of unspoilt Georgian architecture anywhere in the world".

We started our time in St. Helena with a long and arduous walk to find the "Heartshaped Waterfall":

On the long walk out of town...looking for the sign

Eventually we found it!!  (it was very small!)

There was quite some overgrowth we had to negotiate...this was a tunnel of branches!

Still walking...

The kids had gone ahead, and we came around a corner...and there it was!  The base of the water flowing, and for the life of us, we couldn't see the heart shape...!!!  (Ben and Gaby were using blades of grass to whistle, in case you were wondering...)

Selfie at the base...happy to have found it!!

The long walk back

"The Falls are best viewed from the road", we found out later...!!!  Can you see the heart shape now?!  (no water flowing, however)

On the way back into town, we walked along "The Run", a waterway that runs from, believe it or not, the Heart Shaped waterfall, right down into the sea.  It used to bring fresh water into the town of Jamestown.  It still functions as a runoff, but now also just serves as an alternative route to getting into town, instead of walking along the road.  St. Helena suffered a drought in 2016/17, so there was still not a lot of water flowing in The Run

Gaby smelling the flowers along the Run

Another beautiful burst of color against a stark mountain side

The following day, we did a short tour of the island with a tour guide, Robert Peters:

Looking down onto Jamestown

We saw MANY churches on St. Helena!  There were 4 or 5 in Jamestown alone.  This beautiful, old church is St. Mathews, and was just at the turnoff to Longwood (where Napoleon lived).

There were many Boer prisoner of war sites:  with 6,000 prisoners, there were 2 camp sites on the island and a cemetary

The site of the Boer prisoner camp.  The fields were covered with white tents, homes to thousands of prisoners.  In their place now stand big, white wind generators
The site of the second boer prisoner camp.  Now beautiful green fields with grazing cows...
The Boer cemetary:  hundreds of unmarked graves on a hillside.  They just had numbers on them.  The memorial in the foreground was erected at a later date in memory of those who died on the island during their imprisonment
An island of contrasts:  The lush, green interior with the rugged, barren mountains in the background, and the vast Atlantic Ocean beyond

Another old church:  St. Paul's Cathedral, an Anglican church. 

The Governor's House.  This is also the home of Jonathan, a giant Seychelles Tortoise, who is believed to be one of the oldest in the world, at the age of around 182...!  He was believed to have been brought to the island in 1882, and was already 50 years old at the time!  We saw him in the garden, but he was quite far away (not a blog worthy picture!)
Next up was High Knoll Fort.  It is perched some 584 meters / 1,916 ft above sea level on the edge of a cliff , overlooking Jamestown. The current fort was built by the Royal Engineers in 1874, but this structure incorporated an earlier fort on the site built in around 1790 

Gaby with part of the fort in the background

Looking down to the inside of the fort

Down the road from High Knoll Fort, is the settlement of Half-Tree Hollow.  Half-Tree Hollow is situated at the top of the mountain.  Jamestown is in the valley below.  Connecting the two are 699 steps called "Jacob's Ladder", or, alternatively, a long windy road for the cars!

Looking down at Jamestown from Half-Tree Hollow.  The road can be seen etched into the mountain side, snaking its way down

Jacob's Ladder looking down into Jamestown...!  The square, white structure is the castle, and the church, pictured below, can be seen on the right of the picture

The church square at bottom of Jamestown.  The castle is on the left of the picture, Jacob's Ladder (not pictured), on the right.  Main street straight ahead!
Castle gardens, with "Anne's Place", a coffee shop/restaurant, a favorite of cruisers (possibly because it has a wifi hotspot?)  in the building behind

An old cannon in the Castle gardens

Castle entrance.  Many of the government offices are now housed in the castle

The Arch is the entrance to Jamestown.

It was build in 1832, and there is a flood mark showing the water level of a flood in 1878

Jail cell...interestingly, the Immigration office is through the black door on the right.  Convenient?! 

Jamestown Main street.  If you look carefully, you can see the Arch at the end of the road!

A Main Street storefront

Gaby and I went for a walk along "Munden's", on the opposite side cliff to Jacob's Ladder.  It provided great views of Jamestown and of the anchorage.

Gaby on the Munden's path

A look back onto Jamestown from the opposite side.  The straight line on the opposite cliff is Jacob's Ladder.  The castle and the church are also clearly visible.  You'll know Jamestown like the back of your hand by the time I'm finished with this post!!!

A view of the anchorage.  The local fishing boats are moored closer to town.  The visiting yachts are on mooring balls a little further away.  I've circled Cool Runnings in red!

Gabs and I then decided to also climb Jacob's Ladder.  If you recall from the St. Helena post, Benjamin fell quite ill, and he was already not feeling well at this time. As Dave stayed with Benjamin, it was unfortunately just Gaby and I who climbed the 699 steps of Jacob's Ladder!

A ladder into the was used in the 1800's as a pulley system to haul items to Half-Tree Hollow at the top

Just so you know I'm not making it up!

Selfie at the top...comtemplating the thought of having to now go down

A view of the anchorage from the top

And then we had to go back down!
On the Monday, Dave managed to rent a car, and we spent the day touring the island one more time, taking in the sights we didn't see the first time around, primarily the Napoleonic sights.

Gaby at the sign post

It was quite a walk into the Sane Valley to get to the Tomb
Beautiful flowers and trees lined the path to the viewing point

There it was:  Napoleon's Tomb

We then drove to Longwood, and viewed Longwood House, where Napoleon lived while in exile on St. Helena

The grounds had beautiful gardens!

Ben and Gaby with Longwood in the background

We also went to look at the controversial new airport:

The runway on a cliff
A beautiful new airport building that currently opens only once a week
We were continually amazed by the geography of the island: seeing these amazing colors in the sand and at the next turn,... 

...driving through greenery like this!
You will also recall that we spent 3 wonderful nights at the Consulate Hotel, and were spoilt rotten by the owner, Hazel.  If ever you find yourself in St. Helena, a visit to the Consulate is a must, even if it's just for a delicious slice of cake!

The beautiful Georgian building that is the Consulate Hotel

Gaby was able to practice playing the piano in the reception area. 

The courtyard/bar area
Cakes displayed along the countertop are very tempting!  The whole hotel is filled with beautiful, old collectibles
And just like that, it was time to say farewell to this incredible place, and head for (not-so-distant) shores once more.  A 700 mile journey (about 5 days sail) to Ascension Island was next.  We were slowly making our way across the vast Atlantic Ocean!

The sun reflects off the cliffs with "Shuti" (left), and "Tangled Up" swing happily on the mooring bouys.  We met "Tangled Up" again in Ascension Island
Enjoying the sunset before heading out once more

Back at sea...on our way to Ascension Island (Photo credit to Gaby)


  1. Wow! Thanks so much - so interesting and informative. A lovely read.

  2. Loved the pics & your description of what they show!