Some 183 years ago, a certain Captain Fitzroy was aboard his boat in Berkeley Sound (the site of last week’s whale watching trip) with his relatively unknown passenger and it is inevitable that the two discussed their location. Fitzroy’s unimpressed passenger, the 24 year old Charles Darwin, was not complimentary about his situation and declared that “the whole landscape … has an air of extreme desolation” and later commented that “this is one of the quietest places we have ever been to”. His comments on the landscape here were similar in nature to his observations on the people (Darwin had arrived shortly after the Port Louis murders, where 8 gauchos/South American cattlemen had run amok and murdered the British representative and several others – I’ll update about that if/when we get to Port Louis and I find out more). Darwin changed his thoughts on the discovery of key fossils here that helped shape his ideas and became rather liked by the community, lending his surname to the settlement that marked the furthest distance he rode from the Beagle.
I can see why he made the mellow observations that he did but I see little call to be as negative. Easter Monday isn’t a bank holiday here but we still get a long weekend with Good Friday so we decided that the recent storm had abated enough for us to chance a camping trip to Kidney Cove. This probably wasn’t overly intelligent as there has been much storm damage as a result of the extreme winds (108mph recorded on top of Mt. Alice) but the forecast was good so we parked at the Murrell Farm House and walked the 9 miles into the “desolation” to find a camping spot.
We had hoped to camp on the beach but foresight should have told us that a shallow beach close to Stanley wouldn’t be accessible for the old 1982 reasons but we were still blessed with a beautiful spot, a Gentoo penguin colony at sunset and some inquisitive horses for the evening.
Many of you have noticed from what the cameras can show here that there is something about the light in the Islands that lends itself to this landscape. The expanses of grass, diddledee bushes and rocky outcrops are predictable, yes, and you could be fooled into calling it desolate but if your eyes are open to it, there is something about this place. It is stunning. Frankly, Mr Darwin, I disagree with your interpretation and here’s a few reasons why:
If you’re interested in Darwin’s visit, find out more here: Charles Darwin in the Falkland Islands.