Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Slow Down on Nevis

Saturday was a fantastic overview of the island with Wendy & Bill, so on Monday we decided to take it a bit slower and travel on foot.

What happened to Sunday??  Well that was Mother's Day and after calls with family and some pretty heavy rain we decided to take a lazy boat day.  The sun did shine a bit in the afternoon and we celebrated with sundowners on Mowzer just to let the sun know we appreciated it's presence.

The destination for our walk was the Montravers Estate ruins and then a hike on the Upper Round Trail over to Morningstar.

Straight up from the boat to Montravers and then around the island to Morningstar.

The trail was pretty straightforward to find from Pinney's Beach and we were treated to interpretive signs along the way.

The Baobab tree at the old gatehouse is the largest on the island.  We've seen Baobabs on other islands and they are usually the result of a captured African bringing the seed over with them when they were enslaved and then amazingly planting it somewhere where their new community would be able to sit under it as they had back home.  Even in all the turmoil of that time, some traditions survived.

Somewhere in there is a huge tree and the remains of the gatehouse.

The Baobab tree is pretty overgrown so its immensity is difficult to see through all the trees and vines around it.

Stepping gingerly through the gatehouse we noticed bat droppings on the floor.  Sure enough, wriggling away in the rafters above us were a few little furry bodies having their daytime nap.

The broad path continued straight up to the great house.  You can imagine the work carts and drays driving up and down here when the plantation was in operation.

At the top of the road, we weren't being chased away, just being asked to respect the site even though it is on privately owned  property.

Looking back down to Pinney's beach and beyond that, Mowzer in the anchorage.
The Montravers Estate comprises a quite unusual three-storey great house with the foundations of earlier buildings alongside.  There is a large barn that has been restored and lots of evidence of ongoing work on the other buildings.  The plantation produced sugar for some 300 years and archaeologists have found the site of the slave village, although we didn't see it while there.  Interestingly, a failed experiment saw the plantation owner, Joseph Pinney, bring in six camels to work on the estate.  They didn't prosper in the Caribbean and I guess we can be thankful that Nevis is not currently overrun with camels, although they do have a bit of a problem with donkeys and monkeys.

Great house on the top of the hill at the left and the restored barn on the sloping ground below it.

Old iron feed bracket on the wall of the camel barn.

Checking out an immense boiling pot used in the processing of the cane juice.  Most that we've seen previously are about half this size.

The lower storey of the great house is almost below grade and there's a dry moat surrounding the building.  Doors and windows open into the moat so one assumes it was used as a passage way.

Small bridges provide access to the second level at both the front and back of the house.
From Montravers Estate we carried on up the slope of the mountain along the trail until we reached the Upper Round "Road".  At one time this was quite a well developed road that provided access across the plantations and small holdings at the higher elevation.  However, since the abandonment of donkeys as a primary method of transportation the road has reverted to nature and is now a fairly overgrown single track trail.

Not far up the trail however, we came across a very new and well-installed scaffolding tower, four stories high.  There was no indication of it's purpose other than a lookout tower for something, so of course we had to climb it.

At the fourth level we popped out above the tree-tops and were treated to a panoramic view of the west coast of Nevis.
The tower provided the only real item of interest along the trail.  It's an easy hike as it traverses the side of the mountain with no real elevations changes.  We exited the trail to the roads above Charlestown just below the Hamilton Estate ruins and then continued along to Morningstar.

Wendy and Bill had pointed out the Charcoal-Man's pit when we drove by the other day.  This time we stopped and had a better look at this operation that provides charcoal for grills on Nevis.

Have you ever wondered where charcoal comes from?

Its almost mango season!  Unfortunately none are ready for eating here yet.

The skies opened up with cooling, drowning rain - enough already!  Lunch with Wendy & Bill at the cottage and then before we knew it, it was time to head back to the boat.  We had another fun little tour of some of the distinctive properties of the south end of Nevis as they kindly saved our feet and drove us back to Pinney's Beach where we'd left the dinghy in the morning.

Montpelier Estate with an amazing tree out front.  This place is still in operation as a fancy guest house and touts its history as the place that Horatio Nelson met his wife.

More of Montpelier Estate.

We then moved on to The Hermitage:  the main building is the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean, and it too operates as a delightful guest house with cottages.

The original wooden structure built in 1740 - full Nevisian style!
Slowing down on Nevis and enjoying the gentle charm or this laid back island, it is both difficult and quite easy to believe that Nevis once ruled British Caribbean trade as its largest producer of sugar.  Today the island is quaint and laid-back but the history that you encounter at every turn reminds you constantly of this island's past importance.  I feel you could stay here for months and only scratch the surface.