A Walk in Bermuda, part 1

Recently my wife and I took a break and headed to Bermuda for a few days in the sun – escaping late winter is always sooooo tempting and we gave in this year.

We’d never been, and after doing a bit of research decided to stay in Hamilton, the capital and the largest town. Bermuda is not a large island, so we thought by staying somewhere central we could explore in any direction, and that’s what we ended up doing. Our flat in Hamilton was lovely, with great views out over the harbour.

We arrived on a Wednesday in the rain, so our first wanderings about town were dampish, to say the least. It chucked it for stretches and then eased off to a misty sprinkle before resuming a pelting rain, combined with gusty blow-out-your-umbrella winds. On the plus side, it was warm by Toronto March weather standards – 18C can feel tropical if you’re fed up with winter. Despite the rain and clouds, we wandered about exploring Hamilton. It has its charms, and is compact enough to explore in just an hour or two. Little touches like this alley bring colour to the buildings:

We found a narrow alley called Washington Lane that led to a tucked-away shopping area, and nestled along the lane was La Trattoria restaurant. The pizza and wine went down very well and set us up for more exploring, plus the staff were charming – it’s a great place.

After more walks in the rain, and the discovery of a Waitrose grocery store that took us back to our days living in London, we headed back to our flat to make our plans for the next day, when the weather promised to be dry.

We woke to hazy sun and warmth, so we set out to explore the island. Our research pointed us to the Railway Trail, which stretches along the middle of much of the island, and we decided to walk most of that, fitting in a stop at Horseshoe Bay where there were a couple of restaurants, and then continuing round to the south-west to end up at Rockaway Bay to catch the ferry back to Hamilton.

While small, Bermuda has a surprising amount of traffic. Combined with roads that often have no hard shoulder or footpath, you find yourself sharing the road with buzzing scooters, motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, and buses. Everyone is polite and defers to walkers, but it’s hardly peaceful. We were glad to get off the road and onto the Trail itself about a km outside of Hamilton.

Once we found it and headed south, we were in a different world. Stretches of the trail are enveloped in trees and others go through cuts through the limestone spine of the island, with stone walls draped in ferns, vines, flowers, and mosses. Parts of the trail reminded us of walks in France or in England, while other stretches brought Florida to mind.

Our mid-day goal was Horseshoe Bay on the south side of the island. On the map, it looked like just an hour’s walk.

In reality, the up and down hills, the road traffic, and the stops to take in the view meant that it was well over two hours before we walked down off the Trail onto the beach at the bay. The journey was worth it for the view, the sound of the surf, and the salt tang in the air.

The walk and the sun and that salty tang were making us hungry, and the wind was whipping sand in our faces, so we headed back towards the trail to find lunch at the Gulfstream restaurant. It felt so summery to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine and some delicious salads. I needed an espresso to fortify myself for the afternoon’s walking.

South from Horseshoe Bay, the Trail slides by the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, and we thought we’d take in that landmark. I’ve mentioned the hills, and Bermuda’s central spine has several that rise nearly 100m above sea level. The Lighthouse is on top of one of them, and rises 5 stories so we made the spiralling climb up the 195 steps to take in the view from the top. Unfortunately the strong winds and the narrow platform made my wife very nervous and as she’s the photographer I took a quick snap and then headed back down.

After a dizzying descent we tumbled down the hillside path to rejoin the Trail, and then kept wandering south before bending along the south west hook of the island. That led us to Rockaway Bay, which we hit just in time to catch the 4:30 ferry back to Hamilton. We’d timed it well, because it started to splat a bit with rain on the way. The views and scenery from the ferry are great – it’s an inexpensive way to see much of the island from the perspective of the Great Sound.

By the time we landed at the ferry terminal in Hamilton and walked back to our flat, we were shocked to see that our Fitbits said we’d done about 18 km on our walk. Since Bermuda is only about 15 km long, and we’d started in the middle, we had thought we’d done about 10 km tops – no wonder we were knackered. It was only proper, then, to end our day in style at the Huckleberry restaurant in the Rosedon Hotel. The walk up the drive let us know what we were in for.

We took a table on the veranda and thoroughly devoured a wonderful meal – it’s well worth a visit if you are in Bermuda. Our night ended with a stroll back to the flat along quiet streets, serenaded by the chirps of frogs and gentle breezes plying palms.