The big trip

Trip of the week: memories of war in the Falkland Islands

For a British tourist of a certain age, a visit to the battle sites is ‘spine-tingling’

With a landmass almost as big as Northern Ireland’s and a population of just 3,500, the Falkland Islands have an “otherworldly” natural beauty that has attracted a growing number of visitors. But this spring, some Britons have another reason to go, said Marcel Theroux in The Daily Telegraph. It is the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, which began on 2 April 1982 and ended six weeks later, on 14 June. From 4 May, hundreds of veterans are due to fly to the islands to attend remembrance ceremonies in the capital, Stanley.

The war still “looms large in every aspect of Falklands life”. It can be “very sobering” to hear first-hand from islanders about their memories of the fighting; and for a British tourist of a certain age, a visit to the battle sites is “spine-tingling”. You come across once-familiar names (Mount Harriet, Tumbledown, Goose Green), as well as rusting chunks of matériel (“burned out helicopters, old Argentine field kitchens, downed fighter planes”) that make the conflict seem “eerily recent”.

But for islanders, the war had some positive effects. The Foreign Office largely neglected them until 1982, and life was poor and tough for most. Since then, there have been “huge material improvements”, with new fishing rights and a growth in tourism, largely from cruise ships.

Founded in 1845, Stanley retains its quaint Victorian heart, but has expanded greatly in recent years. It has acquired some “reliably good” restaurants (the local toothfish is “delicious”), a great microbrewery and a “fantastic” artisanal gin distillery, Darwin’s Botanicals. And transport links within the islands are much improved.

Go to revel in their limitless space and quiet, their “intense southern hemisphere sunshine”, and their astonishing sub-Antarctic wildlife, which includes elephant seals, sea lions and six types of penguin. 

Specialist tour operators include Journey Latin America (journeylatinamerica.co.uk) and Rainbow Tours (rainbowtours.co.uk).

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