Stanley is pedestrian-friendly in the sense that it’s small, though it’s more spread out than some expect, and walking the steep hills can be tiring (especially for elderly cruise-ship passengers); the perpetual wind can also be trying. Most visitors start along the waterfront Ross Road, at the Jetty Centre tourist office, and walk west.
Ross Road and Ross Road West
Dating from 1887, built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 50th year on the throne, the Jubilee Villas (Ross Rd. and Philomel St.) were private homes that, with their British brick, bay-window, terraced-row style, seem to have been plucked out of working-class London boroughs. The easternmost of them is now the home of Falklands Conservation.
One block west, dating from 1892, the capital’s most imposing building is the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral (Ross Rd. and Dean St.), the seat of the Church of England. Built of brick and stone, with a soaring steeple and stained-glass windows, its interior also memorializes local men who served in the two world wars. The cathedral overlooks the Whalebone Arch, a sculpture joining the jawbones of two blue whales, erected for the colony’s 1933 centennial in the center of an open green.
Stretching west along the waterfront from Dean Street, Victory Green commemorates the Allied triumph in World War I; several cannons from the Port Louis settlement, functional 19th-century Hotchkiss guns (fired on ceremonial occasions), and the mizzenmast of HMS Great Britain punctuate the neatly trimmed lawns.
One block west, the rehabbed Stanley Town Hall is home to the post office, public meetings, and events such as May dances. A block farther, the Liberation Memorial (1982) honors the British soldiers and sailors who died in the 1982 conflict with Argentina; every June 14, Stanley residents gather for a memorial service here.
Appointed by London, the colony’s highest officials have resided in Government House (Ross Rd. W.) since the mid-19th century. Bright yellow in summer, spiny gorse hedges and broad lawns separate the house from the street, but not so long ago it was customary for all island visitors to sign the guest register. With all the economic activity and personnel movement since the 1982 war, the governor has more to do than just socialize, and it’s now open by invitation only.
On the shoreline side of Government House, the Monument to the Battle of the Falklands (1918) is an obelisk commemorating the 1914 confrontation in which British naval forces surprised and sank several German vessels. Farther west, one of few still-identifiable Stanley Harbour shipwrecks, the Liverpool-built barque Jhelum, tilts offshore after being scuttled here in 1870; on the green itself, a new Solar System Sculpture walk begins with a replica of the sun, made of recycled materials. Nearby is the excellent Falkland Islands Museum (Holdfast Rd.).
Many of Stanley’s surviving stone houses from the 19th century line John Street, one block south of Ross Road. Erected for the Chelsea pensioners, mid-19th century kit houses line Pioneer Row, directly uphill from Stanley Town Hall; one of these, Cartmell Cottage (7 Pioneer Row), is now open, by appointment only, as part of the Falkland Islands Museum. Admission costs £1 separately but is included in the museum’s £3 admission charge.
Two blocks farther uphill, local conservationist Mike Butcher displays part of his salvaged whalebone collection, including the skull, jaws, and teeth of a gigantic sperm whale, in his yard at Dairy Paddock Road and Davis Street. The exhibit also includes a harpoon gun that, according to Butcher, killed 20,000 whales between 1936 and 1965.
Ross Road East
East of Philomel Street, the Falkland Islands Company headquarters occupies most of block-long Crozier Place, beyond which Ross Road resumes as Ross Road East and passes Stanley Cemetery, whose weathering tombstones tell a great deal about the origins of the Islands’ immigrant population. The Memorial Wood is a tribute to the British military who died in the 1982 war.
At the east end of Stanley Harbour, Whalebone Cove is the final resting place for several rusting hulks, most notably the handsome three-masted freighter Lady Elizabeth, left here after striking a reef in 1913. To the north, still a feasible walk from town, Gypsy Cove is home to about 320 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins, as well as cormorants, night herons, oystercatchers, and small birds; stick to the signed nature trail, as landmines left by the Argentines in 1982 are still a potential hazard on the beach and in some other areas.
Farther east, about seven miles from town, Cape Pembroke Lighthouse (1854) is a bit distant for most hikers, but it’s a common destination for tours out of Stanley. During the 1982 conflict, lighthouse keeper Reginald Silvey used a hidden radio to keep British forces informed of Argentine movements. Visitors can enter the lighthouse with the loan of a key (£5, nonrefundable) from the museum.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition