Hike # 8 : Clydesdale - Cinchona

Saturday 14 October, 2006

Sherona, Kaideane, Crispin, Everton, Paul

A bright sunny day as we meet up in Papine once more - this year is certainly different than last, weather-wise (and long may it remain so!). Newcomers who had not been to Clydesale, so we set off at 8.30am towards Gordon Town and Guava Ridge before turning up to Content Gap. Almost a view of the Peak this time - just a little cloud on top. Onwards to St.Peters, the road breaking up quite badly again in places. The rough road from St.Peters to Clydesdale, however, in no worse condition, but very overgrown - never mind, Chrismus a come (not to mention election time) and bushing money will soon flow.

But how much money to fix back Clydesdale itself ??? Not just overgrown but really falling apart - is no-one interested, or doesn't anyone (in authority) know? As before, we must ask what we could do to rebuild this national treasure... well, not just national. The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park may soon become UNESCO World Heritage site - hope there will be something left to savour...

Enough of that... let's escape into the cool fresh air and the quiet serenity of our beautiful hills. Across the stream and soon struggling up the steep path through the coffee plantation. It doesn't last forever, but before levelling off, the grade has taken its toll as one of us decides to turn back.

No rain this time and a wonderful view of the Yallahs river valley as we reach St.Helens Gap, looking down past Westphalia and Penlyne Castle into St. Thomas. Hillside terraces speak to the commitment of these local farmers, showing us too that vegetables don't just grow in Manchester and St.Elizabeth.

Soon in our almost-heaven once again. None of us over-hungry - just happy to rest in the cool sunshine at a GPS-elevation of 4663 feet above sea level. Sherona finds her fruit again, delicious raspberry-type berries up near the ornamental fish ponds.

The old (great)house itself invites an overnight stay sometime soon, so that we can explore the paths that lead off from St.Helens Gap (and take up the 'work' of XLCR staff and students in the 1970s.). The gardens are still well-maintained, and the flowers are very striking.

But we must leave again - someone is waiting. Cricket conversations take over on the way back down, and the merits (or otherwise) of Brian Lara's captaincy. What else can one expect after the sad performance of the Windies team the previous night.

Eventually back to Clydesdale, and a dip in the swimming spot for two of us. Yes, cold but it could be worse... it's a great feeling once you come out of the water.

Pensive, or tired, we drive back quietly to St.Peters and then have a truck full of guests on the back by the time we reach Content Gap. So to Gordon Town and then Papine - some have to run home now and revise for mid-term tests... such is life but what better way to take a break - our mountains really are wonderful.