While the longest of the Letterbox walks on Green Mountain this is actually the easiest walk being pretty much flat – once you have managed the 10 minutes walk up the zig-zag road from the Red Lion via Bell’s Cottage to the start of the walk. The walk starts on your left just before you reach the Old Marine Barracks – you will know if you are on the right path as almost immediately you pass Elliot Obelisk just before entering the first of many tunnels on this walk. Fear not, none of the tunnels are long enough such that you can’t see the exit on entering them.
The scenery on this fairly open walk is spectacular as is the vegetation. You don’t need to be a botanist to spot some of the few remaining Ascension Island endemic plants as they are marked on this walk. For example, you can spot the critically endangered Xiphopteris ascenionensis – a small fern, Sporobolus caespitosus a spikey green-grey grass and the larger fern Ptisana purpurascensalso.? See my separate review on Ascension Island endemic flora. Keep an eye out for the descriptive plaques (added in early 2013 when the pass was cleared of invasive species such as Guava, Ginger, Koster’s Curse and Buddleai and widened) and then look thereabouts for the plants.
The pass was built in 1840 under the direction of Lieutenant Wade as a lookout for the Marines of the Mountain Detachment. It was opened by (and named after – hence the Obelisk) Admiral Elliot, Commander-in-Chief of the West Africa Squadron.
The path circles Green Mountain at 2400ft and at the time gave cloud free, and vegetation free views out to sea. Several small lookout caves can still be seen along the path though be aware that nowadays clouds can come down to obscure views and vegetation (mainly introduced) is everywhere.
You will notice a widening of the path on the southern side (towards end of walk). It was widened during World War II to enable US jeeps to get to a now non-existent radar tower along the path. This and a second radar tower positioned on the mountain road gave a 360 degree coverage to detect approaching aircraft. During the War these sites were high secret locations as was everything else on the island which was closed to visitors. Ascension Island only opened to visitors in 2002.
If you only have time for one walk on Ascension Island let it be this one.
Address: Green Mountain
Directions: Park at the Red Lion