The Peaks National Park - A view from our expert author
© Tricia Hayne
The national park, its higher terrain regularly swathed in mist, represents the last stronghold of many of the island’s surviving endemic species.
This 1,124 square-mile (2,911km²) area was extended in 2015 from the original Diana’s Peak National Park to incorporate much of the central ridge, including both the George Benjamin and Clifford arboretums, and High Peak. At its heart are the central three peaks: Cuckold’s Point, Mount Actaeon and the highest point on the island, Diana’s Peak, at 2,690ft (820m). Whereas the top of Diana’s Peak is treeless, each of the others is marked by a lone Norfolk Island pine. The national park, its higher terrain regularly swathed in mist, represents the last stronghold of many of the island’s surviving endemic species, including the last remaining wild specimen of the St Helena olive, which was discovered on Mount Actaeon in August 1977. It also bears the scars of the flax industry, for following the industry’s demise, New Zealand flax grew wild over this area for many years, in turn destroying many native plants. In recent years, much work has gone into controlling the flax in order to restore the habitat for native flora. If you’re planning to visit the Peaks, do wait for good weather and come prepared. When the mists roll in, visibility is limited to only a few yards/metres, which could prove dangerous for those unfamiliar with the terrain.