Mon | Apr 24, 2017

The scenic route to Bog Walk

Published:Sunday | June 7, 2015 | 6:00 AMJoan Williams, Contributor
The mist rising from the valleys was absolutely fabulous.
Because of the drought, the river was really low.
Kim (second left) accepting first prize from organiser Peter McConnell last year.
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To get from Kingston to most places on the north coast, we normally travel over the famous Flat Bridge. Built around 1725, it still accommodates modern-day traffic with cars and lorries exiting it to traverse the scenic Bog Walk gorge.

The Jamaica National Heritage Trust reveals that, during construction, the 16 plantations in the Bog Walk area were each obliged to send one slave per 50 to work on the River Road and Flat Bridge. While building this very important corridor, many slaves lost their lives performing the dangerous work to build a bridge and road in the dangerous Rio Cobre river basin. Between 1881 and 1915, the floor of the bridge was washed away and re-floored with iron girders and buckle plates from the original May Pen Bridge. Flat Bridge had metal handrails in the 1930s and, later, wooden ones but all were repeatedly devoured by the river.

If you have not travelled the picturesque Bog Walk gorge or over the historic Flat Bridge, you need to do so quickly because this historic treasure will soon succumb to necessary progress. When the new leg of Highway 2000 from Innswood to Bog Walk is completed, it is said that they will be flooding the gorge, making it totally inaccessible. According to an article on September 4, 2014 by senior Gleaner reporter Gary Spaulding, the scheduled date for the demise of the gorge is 2016, that is, next year!

En route beyond Flat Bridge, the next famous landmark is the quaint Kent Village. This village was brought to the forefront of public knowledge by the 1904 tragedy at the nearby Bog

Walk power station. Sixty-one workers died while cleaning the inside of the eight-foot diameter pipe that carried water from the Rio Cobre to the power station. Said to be the largest pipe in the world at the time, it was 1.7 million pounds of solid steel. Many duppy stories came about in the years following this loss of 61 lives in the river.

One interesting feature of Kent Village is the functioning free 'cable car' that locals use to cross the Rio Cobre. On one of my cycling outings to Bog Walk, we took a rest stop there and had a ride in the cable car. The car was erected primarily to accommodate workers and

higglers needing to go to a citrus farm across the river. They manually pull themselves across safely above water level.

More recently, our route organiser, businessman/engineer Howard Lynch, who directs many of our country rides, introduced us to an alternate and safer route to Bog walk. This saves us from having to contend with route taxis and other drivers who endanger everyone by treating the gorge as a race track.

This route is just as scenic and takes us behind the police station at Stony Hill, past Sherborne Heights.

Here, I was immediately smitten by the beauty of the mist rising in the early morning from the valleys and melting into the green, lush hills to the north.

We passed through cool, well-fruited country districts such as Cavaliers, Parks Road, Red Ground, Above Rocks, Zion Hill, Harkers Hall, Border, Tulloch Estates, Knollis and over the Rio Pedro. Additionally, there were other districts I had never heard of before, such as Woman Hole, Seargantiville, Long Coconut Tree, Rent Comb, and Bamboo Corner. While the origin of place names such as the well-shaded Bamboo Corner and Long Coconut Tree can be understood, I couldn't help but wonder how the names Woman Hole and Rent Comb were derived!

 

terrible roads

 

On this route, I noticed that the roads in the St Andrew segment were in a terrible condition, with potholes every few yards. The minute we passed over Border and into St Catherine, the road quality improved dramatically. It made me wonder if the political representative of the former constituency does not realise that you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Aside from the proliferation of potholes in the St Andrew segment though, cycling this new route to Bog walk was absolutely delightful.

Our destination on that day was the picnic area on the Tru-Juice farm where we had hoped to swim in the river on arrival. But alas! It was during the severe drought and the river had very little water. However, after such an energising ride, a great breakfast and great camaraderie, no one was complaining.

Incidentally, these grounds through their well laid-out orange groves were also the venue of the annual Tru-Juice cycle race. The female division was won last year by one of our own cyclists, Dr Kim Scott, and I am sure she could easily repeat that feat today, if she gets the opportunity to enter again.

- Joan Williams, moderator of Joan Williams Online broadcast on Power 106, describes herself as an unapologetic addict to the Jamaican outdoors. A foundation member of Fun and Thrills Adventure Club, she explores the island at any given opportunity, cycling, hiking or swimming with that group, family, Jah 3 and anyone else who will have her. In 1995, she published the popular 'Tour Jamaica' and the fourth edition is now an ebook available at http://www.amazon.com/Tour-Jamaica-Joan-Williams-ebook/dp/B00EJWCSHS/ref... Contact: gratestj@gmail.com.