Discovering The Bermuda Railway Trail
If it's a scenic stroll you’re looking for, a journey sprinkled with island history and rich flora-filled landscapes, the Bermuda Railway Trail National Park is the place to be. This former railway spans the island end-to-end, winding from striking rocky coastlines to breathtaking backcountry greenery, providing a quiet escape for the visitor looking for an experience off the beaten path. You’ll encounter the unexpected along the trail, an intimate way to feel the serene nature of island life, tucked away right in the heart of Bermuda.
The Bermuda Railway Trail is named for the busy transit route that once curled around the island shores. It was during the 1900s that Bermuda first solidified its reputation as a peaceful getaway, where visitors could escape the hectic pace and loud sounds of the modern era. The railway was popular as a means of transport for tourists and locals alike until it closed in 1948 after just 17 years in service.
Since then, nature has taken its course and reclaimed its territory on this 18-mile trail, now preserved as a national park. Today it is hard to believe that locomotives, freight cars, and passenger trains came through these narrow paths where people now walk, run, and ride pedal bikes. The whisper of the breeze and the smell of cedar wafting in the air replace the roar of train engines. On a visit to the Railway Trail, you'll find the quiet pace of life that we cherish here in Bermuda firsthand. The trail reminds us to stop and appreciate the beauty in the most delicate of details: the smell of allspice, or a hibiscus in bloom. It encourages us to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, instead embracing the trail's quiet serenity and the idea that you can be delighted by the unexpected.
Start the journey by popping into the Visitors Service Bureau in either Hamilton or St. George's, where you can pick up a free guide to walking the Railway Trail. If you are in the mood for pure adventure, then simply hop on a path and see where it takes you! The trail provides many touring opportunities. You can meander off the main route and soak your feet in the ocean water, or find your way back to a road to catch the next bus. It's truly exhilarating to have free rein to explore, not knowing what you may see around the corner, whether it be a friendly resident jogging by and pointing out a photo-worthy pastoral scene, or a sea turtle swimming by as you rest on a waterside dock.
The trail covers a large amount of the island, rewarding those who traverse through it with up close and personal views of Bermuda that are oftentimes overlooked. It's broken into about nine sections across the parishes of Bermuda, each ranging between 1 and 3.75 miles. You can start in the east with a route between St. George's and Hamilton, or in the west, which takes you between Hamilton and Somerset, passing through Paget, Warwick, Southampton, and Sandys. Even though you may feel a sense of calm isolation while exploring, the curious thing about the trail -and truly, Bermuda itself- is that you are never too far away from community; it will always be just around the corner.
One of the most striking features of the Railway Trail is the juxtaposition of new and old in this welcoming environment. As you encounter the twists and turns of the eclectic landscape and seascape, see how nature has carved its mark in our history. You can walk through tall limestone wall-lined paths, perhaps passing an old drawbridge. See where trees have made their own contribution to the foot path, with branches curled over to form a wide tunnel for walking through. Take time to notice the details, and keep an eye out for hidden gems. Find a set of stones leading to the most majestic of ocean views, or a hint of trellis spotted through the trees, belonging to a grand island home. Hear the call of a heron as it flies over a school of mackerel jumping in water. Accept a freshly plucked flower from a smiling school child. Open your mind to the unexpected!
Once a busy transit line, nature has taken the reins once again in a place where you are free to go off the path. The Bermuda Railway Trail provides an outlet to escape the stresses of reality, a breath of fresh air, and a perfect getaway all at once. It is one part of your trip that you simply can't do without.
It is tranquil. It is historical. It is Bermuda.
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20 June, 2012