We often dread Winter in the Falkland Islands, as I’m sure many people would understand looking at the map I posted a while back. The truth is, it’s never quite as bad as we’re expecting. Sometimes, I get the feeling that we’re waiting for Winter to ‘kick in’, and it never really does. Yes, it gets cold but I wouldn’t say it’s much worse than the UK. With things like Liberation Day and the upcoming Midwinter Swim coming up as the year goes on, there’s always things to do and I’ve alluded to the social aspects of life here before. Still, half term was last week and the extra bank holiday of Liberation Day gave way to an opportunity for a weekend away. We headed out to Johnsons Harbour, a settlement most often visited as the jumping off point for the trip to Volunteer Point.
It’s only about 45 minutes out of Stanley driving up the North Camp (gravel) road but it makes all the difference to get away from town and relax away from it all. This trip was unusual for us as we didn’t have specific plans (given that the peat soaks up too much water for most off-roading) so we were in for time spent with friends, likely doing some walking and relaxing in the evenings. Johnsons didn’t disappoint, especially as the accommodation is so nice. The coastline is sheltered and great for just walking the wilderness. As with so often here in these Islands, we stumbled on a little maritime history (there are, after all, 126 known shipwrecks here in the Islands).
Storytime (courtesy of some information in the self-catering, much of which I suspect needs revisiting): In 1833, the Magellan (a small, French whale catcher) wrecked on this beach. The crew stayed on the beach in tents made from their sails before the Beagle happened to stop by. You might know that name from the ship’s Captain (Fitzroy) and Charles Darwin on board. They picked up the crew and lifted as much of their things as they could (as well as buying a lot for firewood) before taking them onto South America (where the remaining cargo was sold with 20% going to Fitzroy, so it wasn’t all kindness). Sadly, Darwin’s clerk went missing and his rifle and some belongings were found on this beach. His body turned up not long after, seemingly having been caught in the kelp as he was trying to shoot and collect ducks for Darwin. He remains buried at nearby Port Louis, I understand. What you see below is all that appears to remain of the Magellan (you can just make out the outline of her at low tide). Still, an nice unexpected surprise for a History teacher.
Back on our story, we also enjoy Johnsons as they have my favourite farm animals and they’re brilliantly tame: That did make us feel a LITTLE bit bad about the evening barbecue:The other exciting thing about visits to Camp is the opportunity to stargaze and improve on my photography by making use of the clear skies and lack of light pollution here:
It’s so nice to have so many options for weekends away in different places. I’m also very pleased with how my photography is improving here. I was worried that I wouldn’t be gaining as many skills as Han seems to be but it’s just another example of the unexpected effects that moving here has had on both of us. Next up, learning to ride the motorbike I recently bought!!!