Today seriously seasoned travellers arrive either by twice-weekly RAF U. They come for scuba diving in the brilliant tropical waters, to see marine, bird and land wild life, of for the mere heck of being on such a remote speck.The cone is meant to be dead, unlike a vent to the north that gushed with lava 100 years ago.
That's only for humans, however, for this is one of the green turtles' prime nesting grounds.But my magisterial stroke of navigational genius has landed me up among aggressive thorn bushes on sharp precipitous volcanic needles.I'm totally lost amid the different but paradoxically identical looking scoria, scree, pumice and lava boulders. With its small band of golden sand, its jagged, forbiddingly barren lava walls, and blue ocean breaking in lofty plumes of white foam against saw-toothed volcanic cliffs in the distance, it is starkly beautiful.Moving back through the lava boulders, I find a track leading to the sea.The blue Atlantic, foaming and frothing, rushes into a network of razor-sharp rock-bound coves and inlets - barren but beautiful.The 9.2 magnitude quake of December 2004 at the northwestern end of this chain was the wakeup call.It triggered the “Indian Ocean” tsunami that killed nearly 200,000 people in Sumatra and thousands more around that ocean’s shores.Half way up the hill are four cannon, two big-bellied creatures dating from 1866, and two more modern pieces of war taken from HMS Hood when it was refitted in 1935 and set up here in 1941 to help drive away German U-boat U-124.Just north of Georgetown, gorgeous Long Beach spreads out its vast expanse of golden sand to a low ridge of sharp volcanic rock spires.A 34-square-mile speck of 44 lava, ash and cinder cones lost in the middle of the South Atlantic, eight degrees south of the Equator, 900 miles from Africa and 1,400 miles from South America, it would be harder to find a more remote get-away than Ascension Island. Helena some 800 miles south-east of Ascension, 1,200 miles from Africa and 2,000 miles from Brazil - or even further away from it all to Tristan Da Cunha, 1,250 miles below St. All three initially uninhabited specks now form a far-flung British Overseas Territory following the usual scuffles centuries earlier between the nascent Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British empires. forces to recapture the Falklands from Argentina in 1982, emergency landing strip for U. space shuttles, and major earth and space communications centre for the U. The following year British sailors found his tent and diary but no body, and it is assumed he either died of thirst or committed suicide - a somewhat different fate from today's gay-themed tours and cruises around the world. The tip of a 10,500-foot, 38-mile wide volcano soaring from the ocean floor to 2,800 feet above sea level, Ascension Island's prime raison d'être in the natural order of things in fact seems to be as a breeding ground for green turtles, whose coveted flesh for centuries pampered British royalty and London's Lord Mayors, and whose blood for a time slaked Hasenbosch's thirst, according to his diary.Ascension was first sighted by Portuguese navigator João da Nova in 1501 but it got its lasting name two years later when fellow countryman Afonso de Albuquerque spotted it on Ascension Day 1503. Today there are no local 'endemic' human residents, only a few dozen U. Some 2,000 to 4,000 of them, now firmly protected by international law, are still estimated to nest here after travelling 1,400 miles from their habitat haunts off the coast of Brazil, miraculously homing in on the same golden sandy beaches where they themselves were born.