Clients Can Walk Where the Island's Railway Once Ran


Reed Travel Features

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Travelers to Bermuda might not be able to find any trains on the island, but the Bermuda Railway Trail is in evidence everywhere.

Designated a path and bridleway in 1984, the trail follows the old railway line that operated between Somerset and St. George's in the 1930s. In its heyday, there were 21 miles of track, bridging water in a number of spots with swing-and-trestle bridges and tunnels. Although it operated for only 17 years, the diesel train took 14 million Bermudians from one end of the island to the other, even providing passage for cyclists who wanted a lift on their journey into town.

The railway declined during World War II, and the island government bought it in 1946 and promptly sold it, leaving nothing but a path winding through some of the most scenic parts of the island. Fortunately, in time for the island's 375th anniversary, the government recognized the trail's scenic potential and opened it to tourists and locals.

A misconception about the railway trail is that it takes a long time to navigate its length. The good news is that it is possible, and much more reasonable, to enter and exit the trail at any of 36 access points. Walkers -- and in some cases moped riders -- can opt for journeys that range from a few minutes to several hours.

The beginning of the trail is the Somerset Bus Terminal, the original railway building. This section of the trail, which takes about one-and-a-half hours to walk, also is open to cyclists and motorbikers.

The route includes attractions such as Somerset Bridge, said to be the smallest drawbridge in the world; Lantana Colony club; Springfield & Gilbert Nature Reserve, and the Heydon Trust Estate. There also is a ferry stop along the way.

Section two begins at Somerset Bridge and includes Evans Pond and Franks Bay. The two-mile path is closed to motorbikes from Overplus Lane and George's Bay Road.

Section three prohibits mopeds and features Little Sound, Black Bay, the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and Warwick Ridge Park. This portion of the trail takes about three hours to negotiate on foot.

Section four, also open only to walkers, includes Belmont Golf Course, Elbow Beach, Harmony Club and Paget Marsh. This section takes about two hours to walk.

Section five, open to walkers only, is about one-and-a-quarter miles long. Highlights of this portion are Palmetto Park, Barker's Hill, Penhurst Park and Gibbet Island.

Section six, three miles in length, includes Coney Island, Shelly Bay Park and Nature Reserve, Flatts Inlet and the Bermuda Aquarium, Natural History Museum & Zoo. This portion of the trail is off limits to mopeds.

The last section of the trail kicks off at St. George's Terminal and winds through Tiger Bay Gardens, Mullet Bay Park, Sugarloaf Hill and Lover's Lake Nature Reserve.

In addition to seeing the sights from a new vantage point, visitors tackling the Railway Trail also will get a close look at the island's brightly colored flora. Trail walking is a natural for those warm-but-not-hot days from November through March.

For additional information about the Railway Trail, call the Bermuda Tourism Office at (800) 223-2106.

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