A mountain stroll to catch a plane – Mt Byng, Carcass Island (Falkland Isles)

There aren’t many places where you can walk from your lodgings to catch the plane to your next destination. Still fewer where it’s a pleasant short stroll over a low mountain summit with an interesting scramble before dropping down to the grassy runway. This morning I had just such a pleasure as I set out from Carcass Lodge (on Carcass Island, in the NW of the Falkland Islands), up a short moderately steep ascent to a broad grassy ridge-line.

From there it was an easy stroll along the ridge to reach an intermediate bouldery outcrop. At which point it was a complete guess as to which of the next two outcrops was Mt Byng summit – the highest point on the island (they looked very similar in height at that point, with the rightmost possibly being the highest). But the hint of a path (or just easier ground in some places) led more clearly to the leftmost – so I set out for that, thinking that a way to the rightmost one may become more apparent as I got closer.

As I reached the outcrop, it became apparent that this was a moderately awkward scramble to reach the true top. Normally it would have posed no problems, but mindful of the head-swipe I’d received out of the blue the previous night, it was made significantly harder with the new use my tripod had gained – held extended above my head, flag-pole like, to give any resident caracara’s (a bird of prey with a mischievous intelligence not dissimilar to the kea of New Zealand) a target to aim at other than my head!

Near the summit, my caution with tripod was well-founded – two caracaras had landed on the summit rocks. After a bit of staring at each other, and my determined move towards the summit they flew to lower ground without argument. But the tripod still remained on guard – the one that got me the previous night had appeared out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly!

Once up there, it became obvious this was the true summit, and I stayed up there for a short while, enjoying the views both north over the airstrip and out to sea and west to “the saddle”, the lower pass that the landrover track between airstrip and lodge runs across. Eventually I descended to visit the lakes by the airstrip (and the birdlife there) before my flight – I looked back from half-way down and the summit that had been completely clear when I was there was now shrouded in mist and cloud. Good timing!