St Helena – a Walking Paradise

St Helena Tourism

A volcanic outcrop in the South Atlantic Ocean, the island of St Helena is 47 square miles of sub-tropical paradise, with rolling hills and a rugged coastline, prime terrain for exploring on foot.

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For such a small area, the island’s landscapes – from mist-shrouded cloud forest to ancient rich desert – are home to an impressively varied and diverse range of hikes and footpaths, allowing walkers to view some of the more remote and inaccessible parts of St Helena and encounter its endemic plants and unique wildlife. Here are some highlights:

Jacob’s Ladder

If you are feeling energetic you can clamber up the 699 steps of the iconic landmark, Jacob’s Ladder, a Grade I-listed staircase that is embedded into a steep cliff face in the capital Jamestown. It was originally built as a funicular in the early 1800s, but the rails and cars were later removed. This left the stairs in place, which have now become a popular and challenging tourist attraction, connecting two island districts.

 

Post Box Walks

One of the best ways to explore St Helena on foot is to tick off the several listed Post Box Walks. A series of scenic routes devised by the St Helena Nature Conservation Group. With quirky names, such as Lot’s Wife’s Ponds, Sharks Valley and Flagstaff, at times reflecting the look and feel of its location.  These walks cover some of the prettiest and most untouched parts of the island. They are scattered throughout St Helena’s lush interior with the more challenging located in the coastal zones – often along steep, narrow tracks with loose multi-coloured surfaces. There are 21 walks in all, each rated on a difficulty scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being the most challenging.

Lot’s Wife’s Ponds

This is one of the most popular walks on the island. The calm, sheltered route winds along the coast before descending to the ponds in calm conditions sheltered from the sea.

 

Diana’s Peak

The Diana’s Peak walk is within the Peaks National Park, itself part of the Central Ridge National Conservation Area. The park contains some of the best of the remaining native habitat on St Helena, home to over 60 endemic species.  The path follows old military and flax plantation routes. Diana’s Peak is the highest peak on St Helena at 2700ft (823m) and gives panoramic views across much of the island.

Heart-Shaped Waterfall

The waterfall plummets over a spectacular rock face carved in the shape of a heart and is located above Jamestown.  This can be seen from a distance, particularly from Side Path road as it climbs up of the valley above the Briars towards Alarm Forest – with the stream eventually flowing through the run in the centre of Jamestown.

St Helena Festival of Running

St Helena’s Festival of Running takes place around November each year. Competitors take part in various events ranging from a full marathon (possibly the world’s remotest) to a 3km run, the Jacob’s Ladder Challenge, a trail run, as well as a triathlon.

The full marathon, the most gruelling of all the events, takes participants amidst stunning scenery located on climbs and steep descends, and is unique as it covers nearly half the land in which it takes place.
sthelenatourism.com

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