Steep cliffs and petroglyphs

by Ana Pinto on

After a warm evening camping at the Highest Point, I wake up and watch the sunrise whilst enjoying some bananas, papayas and oranges for breakfast. The tents are packed up and I’m ready to start walking back to Adamstown. I haven’t got much time as I agreed to join the Warren family on a quad bike trip down to St Paul’s Pool. We jump on the quad bikes and head up a very steep hill. On the way there we go past a sign to ‘Down Rope’, a very steep downhill walk that I would very much like to do whilst I’m here. As soon as I mention Down Rope, Torika and Kimiora offer to guide us down there on the way back from St Paul’s. We gladly accept this offer, as I have heard that it is where the petroglyphs can be seen (these are rock engravings left on the island by Polynesians before the mutineers arrived!) To get there you have to go down a very steep path that cuts into the side of the rock cliff, so having local guides is a definite advantage! We agree to come back after lunch.

Quad bikes heading to St Paul's Pool
Quad bikes heading to St Paul's Pool

We continue on our journey uphill to St Paul’s for a few more minutes until we stop on a rock cliff overlooking that familiar blue ocean. The cliff looks quite bare and I wonder how far we have to climb down to see St Paul’s Pool. I walk carefully towards the edge of this cliff and look down: the dramatic rock pillars of St Paul’s protrude from the ground and the sound of the waves crashing over them is chilling!

Looking down at St Paul's Pool
Looking down at St Paul's Pool

We are told that as the waves are breaking into the Pool, it is too dangerous to swim here today, though this amazing view is worth the visit alone! We follow our local guides (Torika, Kimiora, Jay and Darralyn) down the steps to get closer to the Pool. The steps disappear and become rocks and we have to be really careful climbing down. 

Ana and Torika at St Paul’s Pool
With Torika at St Paul’s Pool

On the way back from St Paul’s, Jo, Torika, Kimiora and myself stop at Down Rope as promised, and after a quick snack we start the descent. 

Torika, Jo, Kimiora and Ana at the start of Down Rope
At the start of Down Rope, with Torika, Jo and Kimiora

The path is very narrow (only about a foot wide in parts!) and it’s a long way down, so being accompanied by two local guides definitely makes me feel safer about it all!  Even though I’m a little nervous, I avoid looking down and smile at the thought of getting to the beach and seeing, with my own eyes, the petroglyphs I’ve heard so much about. 

Torika offers to take Ana's hand as they begin the descent
Torika offers to take my hand as we begin our descent...

The Down Rope 'path'
The path gets narrower and steeper!

Half way down the path
Jo looks a little concerned!

As we clamber along the cliff we spot some amazing Frigatebirds flying near us. After about 40 minutes of carefully manoeuvring ourselves downhill under the guidance of our guides, we make it down to the beach in one piece.

On the beach at Down Rope
Safely at Down Rope beach!

On the beach we see some local shore crabs and a few bright orange crabs hiding around in the rocks.  We all admire the petroglyphs as they are visible at the base of a rockface at Down Rope’s beach.  Amazing.

Ana standing by the petroglyphs at Down Rope
Admiring the petroglyphs at Down Rope.

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