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Sylvania to Laudat Trail
Most of this trail passes through part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trois Pitons National Park. The area is made up of tropical rainforest and long-term secondary forest. It is associated with a period of Dominica’s history 100 years ago when the colonial authorities tried to encourage many British investors to come to Dominica to open up coffee, cocoa and citrus estates in the interior of the island. Many came and established their projects but all of them failed and the land went back to forest.

The starting point of the trail is Sylvania Estate. It was established by Administrator of Dominica Hesketh Bell (1898-1906) as an experimental estate in the rainforest area to demonstrate the potential to settlers of how to grow cocoa, citrus and coffee in this part of the interior of Dominica.

Much of the trail passes through Middleham Estate. It was once Crown Land bought by one of the British investors G.C Fowler amounting to 1,166 acres. Years after Fowler’s estate failed, it was bought by the American millionaire John D. Archbold in the 1940s but remained largely in forest. In 1975 when preparations were being made to establish the Trois Pitons National Park, Archbold made a donation of the entire estate to encourage the government to develop the park. The area of over 1000 acres was given to The World Wildlife Fund US who then transferred it to the Government of Dominica for inclusion into the Trois Pitons National Park as the Archbold Preserve.

The trail also passes above Cochrane along the edge of Hope and Stewart Hall Estates. These lands amount to 775 acres all together and were owned at the beginning of the 20th century by the distinguished medical doctor Henry Nicholls. These estates lie in part of the watershed that serves the Springfield intake of DOWASCO, which provides water for Roseau and the entire southwestern part of Dominica. A law protects these areas from habitation and development. The maintenance of the forest in this watershed is therefore vital for the 30,000 consumers of water in the service zone. Many of the hikers are consumers of water in this zone. This is where your drinking water comes from. Protect it!

The forested lands through which we pass is a combination of State land occupied by the Trois Pitons National Park and abandoned portions of privately held lands as well as those which make up the watershed for the water supply dam at Springfield. The forest type is secondary forest, most of it being some 90 years old and dating from the time that the large estates were abandoned. The rest is tropical rain forest. Along the way we pass some of the remains of the old estates abandoned in the 1910s. We pass the turn off to the Stinking Hole a volcanic crevasse, the home of thousands of bats. Another path leads off to the Middleham Falls before continuing on towards the Laudat Road.

The path has been used over the centuries as hunter tracks and maroon trails and in the early 20th century as a means of connecting estates such as Middleham and Stewart Hall to the Imperial Road and to Laudat. Workers from Laudat and Cochrane also used these trails to move from their villages to the estates. It was also a way for villagers from the northern part of the east coast such as Castle Bruce to walk more directly to Roseau before the Imperial Road was built. It was part of a vast network of tracks that criss-cross Dominica.


 

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