As far as you can go – Dropping down to the sea

Just beyond this area, the most bizarre piece of landscape opened up.  Along the side of the mountain was a sand dune – but it was nearly vertical against the side of the hill.  The kids too great fun in climbing up it and surfing down.  It was perplexing to work out how a patch of wind borne sand had ended up here.

Paths in St Helena do not run smoothly, particularly out here on the very edge of the island.  Just before we reached our destination, the path ran out completely.  A metal spike marked its termination and route now involved heading down a gnarled old piece of rope attached to the spike.  One by one we dropped down about 50 meters on a loose scree.  Small knots were tied in the rope to hold onto.  You were able to just about stand upright but no way could you walk straight down without the aid of this rope.  It was easier to face the land and come down backwards. The last few metres dropped straight down a small cliff face to the beach below and you were climbing down, not walking.

But when you reached the bottom, boy was it worth it.  We had entered a magical rocky garden, called Lot’s Wife’s Ponds.  It was another of these wave cut platforms, but bigger than any other I ever saw on St Helena.  A couple of hard pieces of rock, again probably residual  metamorphic rocks left over from the pummelling of the ocean’s force, stood proud like chimneys, and worn away into the platform were several pools of clear ocean water.  These pools were at different levels, and after scouting round the whole site, I worked out that ocean were refreshing the easternmost pools with every wave, the influx of water caused little tsunamis in that pond which then washed over as temporary waterfalls every 8-10 seconds into the next pool along and so on to a little rocky bay where it was eventually sucked out again to join the great mass of Atlantic.

It meant that the water was constantly being moved through the system, but the deeper pools in particular contained much warmer water than the ocean, and were amongst the calmest water I had seen in the whole South Atlantic.  In each pool coral was thriving.  The water was perfectly clear and without man made pollutants. Those pieces of reef were the basis for a thriving community of invertebrates and fish, safe from bigger predators from being in their own open fish tanks.

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