Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hiking the Bermuda Rail Trail

CELEBRITY CONSTELLATION, KINGS’S WHARF, BERMUDA — It took me a year-and-a-half to walk the Bermuda Rail Trail, but it was one of the most enjoyable things I have done during my visits to the island and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in doing something a little different that is also a little bit physically demanding.

My first trip to Bermuda was in May 2007, on a cruise out of Norfolk, Virginia. It rained the entire three or four days we were on the island and that limited what we were up for doing. I noticed, however, a trail running from the capital city of Hamilton to the village of Somerset, that followed the track of an abandoned island railroad, and determined that I wanted to hike it the next time I could.

That opportunity presented itself in October 2007, when I once again cruised to Bermuda, this time on the Azamara Journey, doing two one-week cruises from Cape Liberty, New Jersey. One day during the second week, I took a Green route bus out of Hamilton aalong the north shore of the island to Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse. (Buses, by the way, are one of the most convenient and economical ways to get around Bermuda and can take visitors just about anywhere they need to go.)

After visiting the lighthouse, I walked down the hill to the Rail Trail and followed it back into Hamilton. It was a bit longer than I expected — about eight miles — and I was pretty beat by the time I made it back to the port. But it was worth it. The trail followed the path of the old train line, and went through cuts carved through sandstone and coral and stretches of forest that displayed the multivaried subtropical vegetation of the island. It was, in short, a veritable natural history tour of Bermuda. It also provided a rare, almost mystical sense of isolation on fairly-densely-populated colony.

On this trip to Bermuda, our ship was berthed for the first time in my experience at the Royal Navy Dockyard/King’s Wharf, across Grand Harbor from Hamilton. So, this time my wife and I took a bus from the dockyard to a point called Somerset Station, at one end of the Rail Trail, and then proceeded to hike to Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse along the sections I had not yet experienced.

The best parts were definitely as good as what I experienced last year and I thoroughly enjoyed the six-mile hike (after which we took a bus into Hamilton and thereafter a ferry back to the dockyard). It bears mentioning, however, that my wife was especially displeased by the sections of the trail that broke out from a parklike setting and overlapped with the auto road, and other people might dislike this aspect of the trail as well.

I, however, cannot recommend the Rail Trail too highly, and the time I have spent on it has been among my most enjoyable experiences on the island. I would love to hear from anyone else who has walked this trail and know what they thought of it!

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