St. Helena

Golf on St Helena

5th April 2017

I continued hiking on St Helena with a climb to the top of Flagstaff Hill. It is a long steady walk to the top from Deadwood Plain. Initially I had trouble finding the start of the walk because I was worried I would be trespassing over a farmer’s field and upsetting the cows. After asking a friendly woman I passed, I learnt that I was heading in the right direction. I’m always slightly wary of cows because I feel they might charge unprovoked but these guys looked pretty chillaxed.

After bidding good day to the peaceful herbivores, I passed the Boer Prisoner of War Camp 1900-1902. Despite of being prisoners, little restrictions were put on their movements and could live outside the camp. It was interesting being in a place, that 117 years ago, would have been filled with tents and South African soldiers.

Shortly after passing the historical site, you come across some much more modern inventions, wind turbines. Had they been there in 1900, they probably would have frightened, or at the very least, intrigued the soldiers. There are twelve wind turbines that rise up on either side of the path and make you feel very small in comparison. Walking underneath them, you hope that their enormous fast spinning blades remain where they are and don’t fly off to chop you in half. (Maybe that’s just my own weird irrational thoughts) The amount of renewable energy that the island produces as a percentage of total output is 33%, compared to 15% in the UK. The goal is to have 100% renewable energy powering St Helena. This would be wonderful, as a large proportion of the island’s power comes from diesel generators currently.

After leaving the wind turbines, you head up the path to the top of Flagstaff. The guidebook describes it as ‘an easy walk with no steep climbs’. I love a guidebook with humour. I was full on sweating buckets when I got to the top. The sun was shining and I eventually wound my way past gorgeous views of the coast to reach the secluded location for the post box. I have never been anywhere in the world that leaves you so much of an opportunity to escape from everyone and everything. Surrounded by miles and miles of ocean with no visible boats, sitting on a hill, where the last person to visit (or at least leave evidence of their time here in the journal) was a week ago. I sat for about half an hour, listening to the quiet sound of the wind up on the hill. Totally alone up here. Perfect meditation spot.

On Sunday I got invited to play a round of golf. Apart from the mini golf, I have never had the pleasure of taking part in an actual round of golf. My inexperience showed. But I had some great instruction and eventually learnt to swipe the ball, and not the air. The golf course on St Helena is very special and described as a ‘great leveller’ by St Helena Tourism. The bumpy weedy ground and the loose earth on the ground help to add to the game and a bored cow looked on as I tried to rescue my ball and avoid hitting a passing car as I tried to make my way back to the course to finish the hole.

In the end, I gave up playing and enjoyed caddying and watching the others play. Having no idea what the different clubs are called, I decided to refer to them as the ‘big wacky one’ or ‘the small flicky one’. Very technical. The player I was caddy for managed to get his best ever score in golf so I couldn’t have been too bad. Or he well, in spite of me, which is more likely.

Afterwards I was made welcome in the golf clubhouse. It is a very inclusive club with all ages and members of the community as members. I’m not quite ready for full-on paid-up membership but would love to play again. My score can only improve!

 

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