One of the most popular features of a visit to St Helena is the chance to enjoy some of the many “Postbox Walks” that are set up all over the island.
24 Jan 2022
23 Mar 2022
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One of the most popular features of a visit to St Helena is the chance to enjoy some of the many “Post Box Walks” that are set up all over the island. There are 21 of these walks in total which, if combined together would effectively create a “round the island” walking experience.
The name is drawn from the Post Box that are found at the start and end of each walk, where walkers can stamp their logbooks to indicate they have completed that particular walk – similar to a concept that exists on Dartmoor.
The beauty of the walks lies in their variety, both in the landscapes that they allow walkers to see and also in how challenging they are, with genuine options for walkers of all abilities on offer. The routes take you through the full range of environments that St Helena offers, from open grasslands to beautiful valleys and along the ragged coastline that characterises the island.
How challenging are the walks?
Walks range from gentle strolls to challenging hikes and everything in between. They are helpfully graded from 1 to 9, getting harder as the number increases, allowing walkers to select the most appropriate routes for them on any given day. The walks range in time taken from a shade over an hour to around four and a half hours, so it is possible, with some planning, to combine a number of walks on a certain day.
Top Five Post Box Walks
A selection of our favourite routes which we feel are perfect for getting a flavour of the island, allowing for beautiful views ad plenty of time out exploring are as follows:
1. Diana’s Peak
Walking time: Around 2 hours.
This is one of the most celebrated of the Post Box walks, starting off Cabbage Tree Road, which is in the very centre of St Helena. The paths that the walk takes you on are steep, but not overly challenging and there is only one route to take, so getting lost is not on the agenda.
Having a guide on the walk is beneficial to learn more about the amazing flora and fauna spotted on the walk, principally the cabbage tree and blushing snail, which is endemic to St Helena. The walk then takes you out of the cloudforest and up to Diana’s Peak which at 820 metres is the highest point of the island. Gaze out over the incredible vistas that unfold in front of you before returning to the start point of this most rewarding of walks.
2. Heart-shaped Waterfall
Walking time: Approx 90 minutes
Easily accessible from Jamestown, the Heart-shaped waterfall walk is the perfect way to round off a day on the island and one that can be done as a spur of the moment decision. From Jamestown the path is accessed by walking past the hospital on Market Street, before the walk starts on the series of steep wooden steps that take walkers up through the forest. The route passes through an area of varied indigenous vegetation, eventually ending up at the Heart-shaped falls.
For much of the year, it is greenery, rather than water cascading down the rock, although walkers in September and October can see the falls in all their glory in the aftermath of the winter rains.
3. Lot’s Wife’s Ponds
Walking Time: Approx 3 hours
One of the most popular walks on St Helena, the walk starts in Sandy Bay on the Southern part of the island taking you past the iconic Lot's wife formation on the coast. The route follows a beautiful path along the ridge, with ropes stationed there to help those who need assistance over the trickier sections of the narrow path. The route takes its name from the sheltered rock pools found at the end of the walk, which are a great spot for a swim after walking through this stunning part of the island. The Post box is located near the ponds, you will climb down a rope to access the ponds.
4. The Barn
Walking time: Up to 5 hours.
Arguably the most challenging of all the Post Box walks, The Barn is graded at 9 which is the highest level of the Post Box walks and should only be attempted by experienced walkers.
The Barn is the name given to the foreboding North-Eastern corner of the island, perhaps the most barren part of St Helena and one that had a significant detractor in the Emperor Napoleon.
The route takes walkers through the series of sharp volcanic ridges that characterise this part of the island, with spectacular sea views abounding wherever you look. Whilst the prospect of tackling this walk can be daunting for many reasons, it is a stunning route and one that keen hikers should include in their plans for a visit to St Helena.
Walking time: Approx 1 hour 20 mins (40 mins each way)
This Post Box walk is hugely popular taking you around the wonderfully named 'Gates of Chaos' which in spite of its melodramatic name, is actually a relatively gentle gradient.
One of the joys of this walk is the chance to admire the different rusty soil colours that have been caused by heavy erosion. The Bluepoint path takes you along stunning views of South West Point, Sandy Bay, Sperry Island and Castle Rocks.