Hike # 9 : Westphalia - Cinchona

Saturday 11 November, 2006

Oliver, Paul

A disappointing wait at Papine - seems that exam pressure has won out this time! Eventually we set off towards Gordon Town where we pick-up a few passangers, as usual. Over Guava Ridge and then down into Mavis Bank, the weather still looking OK, though not clear enough to have that view of the Peak. Turning left, we are soon at the Yallahs River crossing, but not before catching an interesting view of Catherine's Peak, very conical from this angle.

The road to Westphalia, about three miles, is quite good... not too steep and not too rough. Easy enough for us in the 4WD truck, but for those walkers we pick up..... no wonder Jamaica is a nation of sprinters!

We park up in Westphalia and look across to St.Helen's gap - the walk up there and on to Cinchona looks easy enough... Thick cloud on the main ridge now, and a smattering of rain reaches us from time to time as we make our way along a pleasant dirt road, which soon turns into a walking path. At what appears to be a significant bend, we branch off on a smaller track, up the steep hillside, much steeper than it had looked from a distance.

The track soon becomes indistinct, but now half-way up, or so we think, we try to make a way through eight-foot grass and bush. Getting very tired as it becomes harder to get a grip on the loose dirt, using the plants as hand-holds. Up to the remains of the first burnt-out tree, but its not one of those near the top... still a way to go, the bush less thick now. And then suddenly, the path to Cinchona.

Sighs of relief, and soon a chance to rest in the Gardens, with that wonderful panoramic view of High Peak, Sir Johns Peak and the impressive terrace farming in their lea.

A quick visit to the great house and then back down the easy way - well, easy by foot, not so easy in a vehicle, in the rain, with very slippery surfaces.... Half an hour or so and we are back in view of the pick-up but not before we nearly head off down the wrong ridge to the south. .

The drive back to Robertsfield, in a slight rain, is a little scary in one place, that slippery surface leading over a break-away with nothing to stop a slide in the wrong direction. Once past, its not as bad as all that..... let's just hope we don't have to retrace our route! Eventually to the river, and a chance to cool off. A slack hand-brake gives a little 'fun' as we park up near the shop, however...

Back on our way, luckily in one piece as we are met with a rapidly-reversing vehicle coming down the hill towards us as we near to Mavis Bank - sees us just in time... still can't work out what that was about! To Papine, more relaxed and pleased that we have found another route, but not really one to repeat! Will try further along the orginal path before turning up the hill next time.