Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pebble Island

From Sea Lions, we took another FIGAS flight to Pebble Island. The Sea Lion Lodge manager was particularly pleased with the arrival of the plane as it brought with it her new fridge.
Pebble Island settlement
Because the planes go around the islands we had a number of stops along the way. We stopped at Bleaker Island to drop off one of our fellow Sea Lion guests, then Port Stephens and Fox Bay, where we picked up one person at each. This was good as we got to see a bit more of the scenery of the islands. Most of the landscape we had seen before was fairly flat and bleak, with grasses and sheep but not much variation. Here we saw some beautiful cliffs and coastlines of the archipelago and some of the hillier parts of the west island. There were still a lot of sheep though. We also got to hear the chat between pilot and the locals manning the airstrip, which in one instance included the important breaking news that they had got the first of their home grown sweetcorn the night before.

After about an hour and a half, we landed on Pebble Island, which is named after the many semi-precious stones that could be found on the beach here. Sadly they are now only rarely to be seen as they have mostly been collected. We were met by Jackie who owns and runs the lodge with her husband Alan. They are two of the only five people who live on the island all year around, the others being the people who farm it.
Pebble is somewhat larger than Sea Lions, and we had arranged with Jackie that we would
take a full day tour of the west of the island with her the next day, so this afternoon we just took a walk nearby. We decided to make it a fairly short walk as it was incredibly windy. So we set off with our lunch and a map and made for the big ponds and the beach. This wasn’t a wildlife day really, as the only things we could expect to encounter were sheep and birds that we wouldn’t recognize, but we figured we needed to go for a walk if only to exercise off some of the huge English breakfasts we’d been eating.
Remains of a sheep
Our first challenges were the gates. It wasn’t so much our having to chase the sheep away from them, as much as they are all different, and so it took a while to work out how some of them worked. But we figured them all out and made sure to close them properly behind us so that we didn’t get into trouble with the farmer. We saw a few dead sheep as we walked around. Occasionally it was hard to spot them until you were nearly standing on them, as they had disintegrated to no more than a flat white outline.

Having eaten our lunch sheltering amongst some huge sand dunes and tussac grass, we walked through the mostly dry bed of an overflow river from the pond to the beach. We had to make a quick dash for it across the dry sand as the wind was blowing it high into our faces. Once we hit the wet shoreline we were safe from the sandblasting, but the wind was even stronger than it had been.
Long Beach, Pebble Island
It was hard to appreciate the completely deserted stretch of white beach when we were struggling to breathe against the wind, let alone to fight our way through it. We could have got off the beach part way down, but that would have meant battling our way up and through the sand dunes and tussac grass, which was equally tricky, so we held our hats on our heads and eventually reached the end of the beach.

Of course as soon as we had clambered up the bank to the fields, we found a fence in our way, and no evidence of a gate for some distance. So we cheated and climbed over it. We were soon able to see where we had to go next and that there was a gate we could aim for, but the next problem was that between us and the gate was a stream that was about four foot wide. Definitely too far to just jump across given that there was a bank on either side.
Wandering along the edge, we reached a spot where the stream was covered in a thick surface of some kind of plant. After a bit of hesitant testing, I figured that this grassy stuff was probably just about strong enough to allow us to step across, so I gave it a go. I made it over OK, though I could feel the surface giving way beneath me and knew I was lucky to have stayed dry. Nic was slightly less lucky. He made it over, but got a wet boot on the way. Thankfully we were wearing our hiking boots and they kept his foot from getting an early bath.
SAS memorial cairn, Pebble Island
On the home straight now, we got safely through the next gate and over a stile and were out onto the airstrip. We were fairly sure that no more planes were due today, but still kept an eye out as we walked across it. We also passed the cairn that was built to commemorate the landing site of the Special Air Service units that arrived on 15 May 1982 to begin the retaking of the Falklands by taking out the Argentine aircraft on the landing strip here.

Back down at the lodge we were very pleased to be out of the wind and enjoying a cup of tea.

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