At 421 metres Rookery Mountain is a fairly quick objective from the cabin at the east end of the northern half of Saunders Island. Occasionally, however, it’s climbed as part of the day-long hike to the “Neck” at the foot of Mt Harston and a visit to some of the wonderful penguin colonies there. This hike also takes in neighbouring (and slightly lower) Mt Richards and its western satellites. If the weather cooperates and the wind isn’t too bad, you can stay on the height of land pretty well throughout the day and enjoy continuous and stunning views in all directions. Not that a visit to the summit of Rookery only is to be sneezed at, with views west over Richards and Harston, east to Keppel and Pebble Islands, south to that part of Saunders and beyond to West Falkland Island and north to nothing but the black South Atlantic with Brazil as the next stop.
All told it’s about a 6 km to the summit of Rookery and back to the cabin or a 25 km round trip to the Neck.
Unlike most Falkland mountains Rookery encompasses lower slopes of mainly grassland due, at least in part, to the friendly northern exposure and decades of grazing by sheep. Higher up the usual barren heath land takes over and leads to the inevitable quartzite summit tor.
The summit has a well established cairn and a survey monument placed on behalf of the Hydrographic Dept, MoD Navy, Taunton by the crew of HMS Endurance in 1995.
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 Saunders Island is by air on the Falkland Islands Government Air Service to the gravel airstrip near the settlement.
If you’re contemplating only a trip up Rookery and a visit to the nearby penguin and black browed albatross colonies, this could be accomplished as a day trip from the settlement. If, on the other hand, the full north coast traverse is on your mind, I’d recommend that you stay at the new “Rookery Inn” cabin at the east end of the north coast – see “Accommodation” below. Either way, it’s a 15 km round trip over a very rough track from the settlement to the cabin and the start of the walk. The owners of the island will ferry you out there for a fee or you can walk. It’s just a question of what you want to do and how much time you have. I would imagine it would also be possible to do the traverse one way by being dropped off at the Rookery and picked up at the Neck. Talk to your hosts.
RouteFrom the Rookery cabin walk southwest along a bench above the ocean until you have clear sight of a low point in the ridge above. Walk up grass and then diddle-dee covered slopes towards the saddle.
There’s no path, although the occasional sheep track can be used to avoid side-hill walking on occasion. Two streams run down from the saddle and walking beside either gives reasonable going. Once in the low point on the ridge continue southwest across boggy ground before switching to the south, crossing an open gravel field and up to the rather impressive summit tor.
Retrace your steps to the Rookery cabin or continue on towards Mt Richards if you’re doing the through walk to the Neck and Mt Harston.
Red TapeAll land in the Falklands is privately owned. Any activities you undertake on Saunders must be with the permission of the owners of the island, the Pole-Evans family. Just mention where you want to go and what you want to do and make sure they’re OK with everything.
Close all gates and don’t disturb the sheep.
AccommodationThe settlement on Saunders Island offers self catering accommodation in two properties, one for 10 and one for 6 people.
The new Rookery Inn cabin provides self catering for 4 in 2 twin bedrooms with shared kitchen/sitting room and bathroom.
The settlement has a small store so you don’t have to lug supplies in on FIGAS.
Telephone +(500) 41298, email firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t know if camping would be allowed on Saunders. Phone ahead and ask first.