As far as you can go – Trails in the mist

There were several walks you could do around the National Park.  Tracks led up from the tarmacced roads at the bottom (called “Diana’s Peak Ring Road” by many of the locals); they also followed a contour round the park, weaving repeatedly from  a descending ridge into a narrow valley where a stream took the cloud forest water away to the lowlands and back out to another ridge.  But the most exciting walk was to go up on to the central ridge itself and step from peak to peak.  Although not precipitous, you followed a narrow arête barely wider than the cut path.  Diana’s Peak itself was a slightly rounded knoll.  The first time I climbed it with Marje and Vince were surrounded by cloud.  While I did not have the sense of height, the mystery of this isolated spot subsumed me and the effect of the clouds on the mature tree ferns meant I would not have been surprised if a stegosaurus would have emerged from the gloom chewing on a mouthful of fronds.

I climbed it again on my second trip with Edsel in tow this time.  I was a little disappointed to see that the rain was falling as we parked up, and I was worried that the peak would be an anticlimax. As we stood next to the sign declaring the summit, the cloud swirled round me once more.  Edsel, a pioneer in taking selfies of himself across the world insisted we had a photo.  We were about to descend when I saw a chink in the cloud to the south of us, the base was starting to lift away from us and in a couple of places the valleys below came into view.  In the space of ten minutes there was blue sky in every direction.  And here was one of the few places where you could see how small the island was – there was ocean in view in every direction.  But that did not mean you could see all of St Helena from here, so much is tucked away down deep valleys or before other mountains that it was only a taste of its delights.

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