Accessible only by a six-day boat journey from South Africa or as part of epic month-long cruises through the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha is about as far from a quick holiday destination as it gets.
The world’s most remote inhabited archipelago stands 1,243 miles from Saint Helena, its closest neighbour with residents, 1,491 miles from South Africa and 2,088 miles from South America.
It’s just seven miles long and 37.8 square miles in area, and has but one settlement officially known as Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, referred to by locals – less than 300 of them – as The Settlement, located at the foot of the 6,765-foot Queen Mary’s Peak.
But despite its unimposing size and formidable remoteness, Tristan da Cunha has a rich history and a plethora of native wildlife that is truly unique.
Tristan da Cunha’s only settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, is built on the flat below the 6,765-foot volcano Queen Mary’s Peak
The vast distances that must be travelled to get to Tristan da Cunha, which lays claim to being the most remote inhabited island in the world
It is 1,243 miles from Saint Helena, its closest neighbour with residents, 1,491 miles from South Africa and 2,088 miles from South America
Tristan da Dunha’s main island, which also gives its name to the archipelago is just seven miles long and 37.8 square miles in area
Edinburgh was named after the visit of the first Duke of Edinburgh in the 1800s, but is referred to as The Settlement by its less than 300 locals
A sign shows the remarkable lengths one must go to get to Tristan, including 5,337 miles to London
Oceanwide Expeditions have four cruises that take in three-day stops at Tristan da Cunha, the name given to both the main island and the surrounding archipelago, including the uninhabited Nightingale Islands, and Inaccessible Island and the Gough Islands, which are nature reserves.
Cruises, such as those which leave from Ushuaia in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, are the most convenient way to see the island.
One of 12 spaces can be filled on the fishing vessel MV Edinburgh and the cargo ship MV Baltic Trader.
However, non-local tourists are at the bottom of an eight-tier priority pecking order that may include those responding to medical emergencies, official visitors and locals.
The other cruise sails annually to Gough Island, run since 2012 by the South African Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel Agulhas II, and carries more than 40 passengers to and from Tristan.
The local rockhopper penguins are hugely popular with visitors and live on all four of Tristan’s islands
Oceanwide Expeditions’ Atlantic Odyssey tours, the shortest and cheapest being the 27-night tour from £3,929 (Euro 5,450), calls in on The Settlement, and aims to land on Nightingale and Inaccessible, which millions of seabirds call home.
The landings aren’t guaranteed though, with 30 per cent of attempts via zodiac boat since 1998 having been unsuccessful due to bad weather. Thankfully, tours often factor in a spare day.
On Nightingale Island, the wandering, yellow-nosed and sooty albatrosses all breed, and the Rockhopper penguins that live on all four of the Tristan Islands are also hugely popular with those who manage to make it there.
Even with such attractions, tourism is a minor industry for Tristan, with the majority of earnings coming from their commercial crawfish or Tristan rock lobster (Jasus) operations and the sale of their unique postage stamps and coins to collectors.
Cruise operator Oceanwide Expeditions have four cruises that take in three-day stops at the Tristan da Cunha archipelago
A yellow-nosed albatross is one of several large seabird species that uses Tristan’s Inaccessible Island as a breeding ground
Two juvenile yellow-nosed albatross frolic on the island that is rich in wildlife but an effort to reach
However, a range of accommodation is available in the form of home stays with locals – descendants of one of seven families originating from Scotland, England, The Netherlands, the United States and Italy – who also serve as guides and sell craft and souvenirs.
All residents are farmers too, and the entire area is communally owned.
Historically, the island has proven an important stop for sailing ships needing a stopover in the Atlantic, and was annexed by the UK in 1816 to ensure the French couldn’t use it as a base to attempt a rescue of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was imprisoned at Saint Helena.
Some typical housing in Edinburgh, where all 297 locals of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago live
Hiking paths and rough roads are plentiful around the small and remote volcanic island
The Settlement was named in honour of the 1867 visit of Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, when the islands served as a Royal Navy outpost called HMS Atlantic Isle, also said to have been used to monitor shipping movements in the ocean and the radio communications of Nazi U-boats.
Prince Phillip, the second Duke of Edinburgh, also visited there on board the royal yacht Britannia in 1957.
Just four years later, the entire population was forced to evacuate to England via Cape Town when Queen Mary’s Peak erupted.
Fortunately, the damage to The Settlement was found to be minimal and most residents returned in 1963.
All of the local families are farmers of some kind, with cattle among the livestock, though fishing is also a massive part of their economy
Local social haunts include the cafe and the Albatross Bar, which by virtue of being on Tristan is one of the world’s most isolated pubs
As for the rare Tristan da Cunha stamps, another major source of revenue for the town
Local residents all have a plot on the Patches Plain where they primarily grow potatoes, a staple of the Tristan diet
Supplies have to be brought into Tristan’s small harbour, while tourists from cruise ships must be brought to shore by zodiac
The local penguin population was threatened in March 2011 when the MS Oliva freighter ran aground and created a potentially devastating oil slick around Nightingale Island, which has no fresh water.
Rockhoppers had to be taken to Tristan to be cleaned.
The islands then got even more worldwide attention later the same year when Volvo Ocean Race competitor Puma’s Mar Mostro broke a mast during its journey from Alicante to Cape Town and was forced to stop there.
The town turned it on for the 11 person crew, who visited the local St Mary’s School, took a tour of the fish processing factory and picked up emergency supplies at the local shop.
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is the main settlement of the island of Tristan da Cunha, in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Locally, it is always referred to as The Settlement or The Village.
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is regarded as the most remote permanent settlement on Earth, being 2,173 kilometres (1,350 mi)from the nearest other human settlement, on Saint Helena.
The settlement was founded on the island of Tristan da Cunha in 1816 by a Sergeant Glass from the Borders of Scotland after the UK annexed Tristan da Cunha. A military garrison was maintained on the islands as a guard against any French attempts to rescue Napoleon, who was imprisoned on Saint Helena. The military garrison remained until the end of World War II.
It is named after Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria, in honour of his visit to the island in 1867.
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is the only major settlement of Tristan da Cunha, and contains a small port, the Administrator’s residence, and the post office. It was damaged in a volcanic eruption on the island in 1961, which forced the entire population to abandon the settlement and evacuate to Calshot, Hampshire in the UK. The eruption destroyed the settlement’s crayfish factory.
After the return of most of the islanders in 1963, the settlement was rebuilt. The harbour at Edinburgh was named Calshot Harbour, after their temporary home during the eruption.
Tristan da Cunha is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. This includes Saint Helena and equatorial Ascension Island, some 3,730 kilometres (2,318 mi) to the north of Tristan.
In 1867, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and second son of Queen Victoria, visited the islands. The main settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, was named in honour of his visit.
On 15 October 1873, the Royal Navy scientific survey vessel HMS Challenger docked at Tristan to conduct geographic and zoological surveys on Tristan, Inaccessible Island and the Nightingale Islands. In his log, Captain George Nares recorded a total of 15 families and 86 individuals living on the island.
After an especially difficult winter in 1906, and years of hardship since the 1880s, the British government offered to evacuate the island.Those remaining on Tristan held a meeting and decided to refuse, thus deepening the island’s isolation. It was reported that no ships visited from 1909 until 1919, when HMS Yarmouth finally stopped to inform the islanders of the outcome of World War I.
The Shackleton–Rowett Expedition stopped in Tristan for 5 days in May 1922, collecting geological and botanical samples before returning to Cape Town. Of the few ships that visited in the coming years were the RMS Asturias, a Royal Mail Steam Packet Company passenger liner, in 1927, and the ocean liners RMS Empress of France in 1928, RMS Duchess of Atholl in 1929, and RMS Empress of Australia in 1935.
In 1936, The Daily Telegraph of London reported the population of the island was 167 individuals, with 185 cattle and 42 horses.
From December 1937 to March 1938, a Norwegian party made a dedicated Scientific Expedition to Tristan da Cunha, and sociologist Peter A. Munch extensively documented island culture (he would later revisit the island in 1964-1965). The island was also visited in 1938 by W. Robert Foran, reporting for the National Geographic Society, whose account Tristan da Cunha, Isles of Contentment was published in November 1938.
On 12 January 1938 by Letters Patent, Britain declared the islands a dependency of Saint Helena, creating the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena and Dependencies, which also included nearby Ascension Island.
During the Second World War, Britain used the islands as a secret Royal Navy weather and radio station codenamed HMS Atlantic Isle, to monitor Nazi U-boats (which were required to maintain radio contact) and shipping movements in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, visited the islands in 1957 as part of a world tour on board the royal yacht Britannia.
On 10 October 1961, the eruption of Queen Mary’s Peak forced the evacuation of the entire population of 264 individuals. Evacuees took to the water in open boats and sailed to uninhabited Nightingale Island, where they were picked up by a Dutch passenger ship that took them via Cape Town to Britain. The islanders arrived in the UK to a big press reception, and were settled in an old Royal Air Force camp outside of Calshot, Hampshire. The following year a Royal Society expedition went to the islands to assess the damage, and reported that the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas had been only marginally affected. Most families returned in 1963.
The remote location of the islands makes transport to the outside world difficult. Lacking an airport, the islands can be reached only by sea. Fishing boats from South Africa service the islands eight or nine times a year. The RMS Saint Helena used to connect the main island to St Helena and South Africa once each year during its January voyage, but has done so only twice in the last few years, in 2006 and 2011. The wider territory has access to air travel, with Ascension island served by RAF Ascension Island. The Saint Helena Airport was constructed and expected to open in May 2016 but has been delayed due to shear wind. There is no direct, regular service to Tristan da Cunha itself from either location. The harbour at Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is called Calshot Harbour, named after the place in Hampshire where the islanders temporarily stayed during the volcanic eruption.
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READ IN FULL. https://www.kelso.bordernet.co.uk/people/william-glass.html
I will be looking into this further but from what i see…
THE ROYAL FAMILY
This is one of their genetic “experiments”
All white European & OF COURSE there is a Scot. Party aint a party without the Scots!!