CAMPING, HIKING AND OTHER TRIPS 4
19th August 1984 - L'Antioja stream and Hill Head House
Bill J, Ray K, Dave D and I decided to go for a walk north-west of L'Antioja on the far side. Dave D grounded the middle of the landrover on the approach to the ford and we had to fetch timber from the pump station site to get him free. We found the deserted house and had lunch there. On the return journey we walked down L'Antioja stream and found a red kite's nest on the side of a bluff. At the ford we found an LMA landrover bogged and our single landrover couldn't get enough grip to free the chassis from the ground and pull them out, so we left it there and gave one of them a lift back to site to fetch a tractor.
Hill Head House on 19th August 1984
Red kite's nest at L'Antioja on 19th August 1984
We often saw sheep hobbling about on their knees. The condition of sheep generally was worse than UK sheep, they were left to roam and seemed to suffer damaged knees and ankles. On one occasion, possibly this one, we came across a sheep lying in the middle of a rock run with its front feet folded up. It didn't move its body at all when we approached, just its head.
One of us decided to put it out of its misery and picked up the biggest rock he could hold, staggered over the rock run close to the sheep, raised it above his head and brought it down hard. We all expected the sheep to die instantly but it jumped three feet vertically and scampered off over the rock run like a mountain goat, probably with a huge headache. Sheep are well known for trying hard to die at every opportunity.
Rock runs are large jumbled up rocks which can be difficult to cross, especially for a sheep with slippery hooves. We jumped from rock to rock alright in fine weather but they were very slippery when wet.
26th August 1984 - Fitzroy Cove
Ray K follows Wickham at Fitzroy on 26th August 1984
Dave D, Matt G and myself in one landrover and Ray K, Ewan S and Bill J in another went to Fitzroy Cove. My landrover had been a "bag of old nails" according to Brian G the Leyland man, but after a new valve and repaired low ratio it felt like a racing car. Somewhere beyond the Frying Pan I got into deep slimey ruts which filled the tyre treads and although I could go fast backwards or forwards, I just could not get it to climb out of the ruts even with the steering wheels at full lock. Eventually I did. After that we both tended to drive over bumpy "bog wallop" rather than in the ruts.
Ray K drove slowly and deliberately into a stream and got bogged. We went on to the memorials, not thinking about the tide. I had never seen a high tide there over many trips, but we got caught on our return. I knew the river bottom was fairly flat and hard, so I crossed cautiously and it was fine. The water only came up to the door sill and Ray followed.
29th November 1984 - Bertha's Beach
Thursday evening, but warm and muggy. Ray K, Ewen S and I decided to go to Bertha's Beach in the evening. There was a haul road all the way there as trucks had been taking sand from the beach. The penguins were mostly sitting on eggs or standing around the nest areas. The previous year on 5th December there were chicks.
16th December 1984 - The stone corral
The sheep corral north east of the site
the oldest structure in the Falkland Islands; ? 200 years old
It had been very wet and stormy during October and November compared with the previous year when I was out and about in sunny weather. John S at breakfast said he might go walking, so I said I would join him as I had never found the stone corral. We set off from the north of the runway and headed north-east.
We found about fifty dead sheep beyond Champina Pond on a stream bank, probably poisoned by effluent from the site, we thought. About fifty yards further on there were more dead sheep where a stream flowed down from the quartzite quarry. On closer inspection we saw landrover tracks, suggesting that they had been driven into a fence corner and killed. Suspicious.
We separated and I eventually found the corral on a bluff. It's probably the oldest structure in the Falkland Islands, possibly 200 years old.
23rd December 1984 - Black Rock House and The Waterfall
I went to Black Rock House and the waterfall with John G, Bill J, Ray K, John S, Ian W and a few others partly so we could see what the track was like after a lot of drizzle and partly to see how my back stood up. I had been there twice before a year earlier. It was wetter than last year, but we got there without trouble. The sky cleared and some walked on up Blue Mountain. My back was still bad so I walked around the valley in warm sun watching crested grebes, families of geese, crested caracaras and other birds.
25rd December 1984 - San Carlos (abandoned), Goose Green and Black Rock House
Over Christmas 1984 PSA went in all directions. Ray K and Mike R went on a four day trip east to Volunteer Point, John G wanted to go to San Carlos, Pat C and Ivor C went to South Georgia with the Navy, others went to Stanley for the local races.
I went with the group comprising John G, Ian W, Matt G, Bill J, John S, Mike S, Pat N, John H and me towards Goose Green and San Carlos. We fetched food from Kelvin caterers. I had a list but John G said let Kelvin decide. We had ten pounds of sausages, several steaks each, at least a chop each, about five pounds of bacon rashers, a crate of oranges and another of apples, potatoes, a sack of rolls, a bag of lard, about twenty-four cartons of milk and so on. Very different to last year.
Near Black Rock House John S and Bill J said their fan belt was squeaking and smelling. We talked about going back for another landrover but it would take about three hours to return to site and bring back another one, so I suggested camping at Black Rock House. San Carlos seemed too far to go and after a wet winter we weren't sure that Sussex Mountains would be easy anyway.
Others agreed so we left the dud landrover, crammed into the remaining landrovers and went for a trip to Goose Green and the Bodie Creek suspension bridge west of Goose Green, met a few shepherds, returning for a very enjoyable leisurely camp at Black Rock House. It was derelict apart from the brick chimney which made a good barbecue place. I had a very comfortable night there on soft smooth grass in my bivvy bag looking at the stars, but there was ice on it in the morning.
On Boxing Day people walked off in all directions, some up Table Mountain, some to the waterfall, some around the lakes while townies like Ian W stayed asleep in the camp with his radio on. On the return journey we towed the dead landrover over the easy bits, just driving it through the difficult bits.
Bodie Creek suspension bridge (1983 trip)
west of Goose Green
Bodie Creek suspension bridge on 25th December 1984
west of Goose Green, built for sheep, not landrovers
Mike S, Bill J, John G and Ian W mending a bridge on 25th December 1984
Black Rock House on 25th December 1984