HEADING SOUTH | Darrin Henry
Blue Point Post Box walk, St Helena, is a little gem of a hike, hidden away in the far, southern corner of the island. We only discovered this excursion ourselves just a couple of years ago, but it’s become one of our favourites (as you tell from the pictures) and there are a few very good reasons why we keep heading back there.
The Top Three Reasons To Go Blue
Firstly, it’s as level-ish as you’re going to get on St Helena. There’s some minor up and down involved, but it’s all rather mild compared to the gruelling gradients on some of the other island walking trails.
Second, it’s short-ish and relatively easy. With a four-wheeled drive, if you parked at Ball Alley, you could do the hike, there and back, in an hour and 15 minutes. But if you’re not out to set records, allow time to absorb the amazing views, take photographs and have a rest at the post box itself, so two hours is quite a comfortable time-frame for average fitness levels.
Finally, third, and no –ish about this one; the views. In terms of landscape reward for steps taken, Blue Point is probably neck and neck with the Flagstaff post box walk. Take a camera.
Post Box Walk, St Helena – When To Go
After gushing about the views, there’s a ‘but’. Of course there is. It’s the weather! Directly exposed to the powerful south-east trade winds racing up off the Atlantic, the area is prone to its own fifty shades of dreary in a few minutes. Frustrating when we’ve left the house on a clear day only to have 100% cloud cover an hour later on the walk. But, this aside…
We’ve done Blue Point at various times of the day. Afternoons is best for photographing the deeply gouged Sandy Bay terrain. But definitely mornings for the best light down over Speery Island on the southern tip of the island and Manati Bay looking west.
The starting point is in Thompson’s Wood. Drive the tarmac road to the point where this changes to a rough track, where you’ll also find a parking/turning bay. Unless you have wheels suitable for rough terrain, leave your vehicle here. See our map for guidance.
Keep The Wife On The Left
Perhaps 20m on the track, take the fork to the left and through a gate. The other direction leads out west to Botley’s and also Man and Horse point.
Once through the gate the track climbs ever so slightly through a grassy field. There’s a hill on your left and to the right, the field called ‘The Churchyard’ falls away, seemingly right down to the sea below. Follow the track for about 800m until the road splits left and right at the Ball Alley.
Take the right turn, and continue on for another 200m towards the base of a little knoll. Here you glimpse a first view of Sandy Bay and the column of Lot’s Wife to the left.
This is also where the footpath begins, (blue dashed line on the map) branching right, around the contour of the knoll, weaving through the trees and bushes.
This footpath is obvious and easy to follow; it leads all the way to the Blue Point post box.
Look Out For A Man and Horse
Watch out for the spiky furze bushes on this early part of the walk. The path winds around the side of the hill with furze on both sides and the spikes are vicious.
After a few minutes you will emerge onto the broad spine of the ridge that leads all the way out to the post box. As long as you keep to the middle of the ridge, more or less, it’s hard to go wrong, although small rock cairns and little wooden arrows also mark the route which are helpful.
There will be views of the hulking headland of Man and Horse way off to your right with Manati Bay down below. To the left on the other side of the ridge will be the scarred, volcanic landscape of Sandy Bay with Lot’s Wife visible in the foreground and off in the distance, the curved line of St Helena’s central peaks.
The Blue Point area is an active conservation site. You will see fenced off patches where endemic plants are being encouraged to take root and other habitat restoration sites where grasses and bushes are being populated on the hillsides. It goes without saying to treat the environment with care and respect.
Post Box Walk Complete
Blue Point itself is actually a high point, half way along the ridge. The post box itself is further along at the far end which you should be approaching after about 20-30 mins from leaving the Ball Alley.
It’s a natural stopping point at the post box; 573m above sea level the hillside drops away suddenly and the gleaming pillar of Speery Island comes into view, set against the vast blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
That’s it! The return journey is exactly the reverse.
Hopefully you’ll have good weather. Enjoy.
Scrubwood infomation: ‘The Flowering Plants and Ferns of St Helena’ by Phil Lambdon