As a result of the location (before/after the dangerous Cape Horn route), remoteness and geology of the area, the Islands are surrounded by shipwrecks, many of which I’m told are old insurance jobs based on the fact that no-one would find the ships here. East of Stanley lies one of many lighthouses, at a place called Cape Pembroke and it was there we turned our attention for today. A trip to the excellent Museum on the seafront and 5 Falkland Island Pounds (equivalent to £GBP but different notes and almost impossible to spend outside of here) gets you the hefty key to the Lighthouse so we took a drive out of Stanley.
About ten minutes away is the Stanley airport (home to the FIGAS flights, nothing international and I’ll write about those when I go on one) and just beyond that you pass through a gate (to keep the wild horses in/out) onto a track that even my old Skoda would have struggled with. 4x4s are the only option here if you want to get out of Stanley and this showed it. On the plus side, once you’re through the gate you can take your seatbelt off at last! (Another Falklands oddity, most journeys in town are extremely slow and short and no-one has to indicate by law but seatbelts are always, always worn).
The approach is a bizarre mix of rock, clay and peat and the whole peninsular is abandoned bar the lighthouse.
Walking as the crow flies will get you to the lighthouse, as well as the Atlantic Conveyor memorial (see internet for details of the Atlantic Conveyor). The building itself is now unused except for tourists but you’re in and quickly ascending. You quickly think ‘this would never happen in the UK’. You can climb to the top and go outside on to a ledge as well as squeeze through a tiny gap to climb inside the old lamp itself. Moving down toward the coast, the Memorial is fitting and another reminder of the effects of the conflict.
Moving further down through some extremely long grass, able to hide people as well as wildlife, I reached the waterline and heard a snorting sound. Not 4ft in front of where I stood was a small seal pup just basking out on the rock. Absolutely unconcerned by my presence or approach, it was unbelievable to just walk right up to it by accident.
With the wild geese around Stanley, the various birds above you (the turkey vultures are perhaps the most strikingly common in town) and now this, you definitely get the feeling that the town and people here are intruding on the wildlife; this is nature and we’re lucky to be living right in the middle of it. I’m told it’s a very different experience when you stumble upon the elephant seals but that hasn’t happened. Yet.