At 268 metres, Mt Byng is no great shakes as a destination in its own right. You could easily climb it in an hour or so from the settlement at Port Patterson to the southeast. The attraction is in taking in the high point as part of a day long traverse of the island from the stunning white sands of Leopard Beach in the southeast, along the height of land and down to Elephant Spit at the northwest tip of the island – a journey of some 17-18 km if you include the distances from and back to the settlement from the two extremities of the walk.
Like most Falkland mountains, Byng encompasses lower slopes of barren heathland below wind scoured quartzite ridges.
Summit views include the whole of Carcass Island, Saunders Island to the SE and the distant Jason Islands to the NW. To the south is the northwestern tip of West Falkland Island.
As with all Falkland Islands hikes be aware that “summer” weather includes sunshine one minute and a snowstorm/white-out the next. The mountainsides are bare and open to the wind with limited possibilities for shelter in an emergency. Carry clothing appropriate to the severe and changeable conditions.
Getting ThereReaching the remote and – at least by independent travelers – infrequently visited Falklands is covered in the Falkland Islands parent page.
Onward travel to Carcass Island is by air on the Falkland Islands Government Air Service to the grass airstrip on Carcass north of Mt Byng.
The RouteFrom the settlement walk southeast along the seashore about 3 km down to the stunning white sands of Leopard Beach. Carcass Island is cat and rat free and consequently there are many ground nesting birds along this stretch, particularly near the settlement. Watch your step and don’t approach any nests.
After enjoying the beach, turn left and northwest and follow a fence line quite steeply up to the top of Jason Hill. A colony of gentoo penguins nest right on the high point. Keep a respectful distance.
Head down and northwest off the top of Jason Hill and walk along the spine of the island towards Mt Byng, the obvious summit in the distance. There are a couple of subsidiary high points to traverse along the way adding a bit of extra vertical exercise to the day. The ridge walk gives continuous views in all directions. You can almost always see the settlement below on your left and can drop down any time you get tired or if the weather closes in.
It’s about 4 km and just over an hour from Jason Hill to Mt Byng. The summit rocks at the very top offer a bit of a scramble.
Continue northwest from the summit and down to the airstrip at sea level below. Cross the strip and carry on northwest as far as you like down towards the tip of Elephant Spit. BEWARE. If you enter the tussock along this stretch, be extra alert to the presence of elephant seals at any time but particularly in rutting season. If surprised, the animals are quite likely to attack and they can move a lot faster than you can.
Return to the settlement southeast from the airstrip, likely following the jeep track that you drove when you were picked up on arrival on the island.
Make sure you get back to the settlement in time for afternoon smoko. Lorraine’s smoko is amongst the best in the Falklands!
Red TapeAll land in the Falklands is privately owned. Any activities you undertake on Carcass must be with the permission of the local landowner, Rob or Lorraine McGill. Since you’re staying with them, just mention at breakfast where you’re off to and make sure they’re OK with everything.
Close all gates and don’t disturb the sheep.
AccommodationThe settlement at Port Patterson on Carcass is the only place you’ll find houses. Rob and Lorraine have set aside some very comfortable en-suite guest rooms in the main house and offer full board. Telephone +(500) 41106 or email [email protected]
I don’t know if camping would be allowed on Carcass. Phone Rob and ask first.