The Capuchin Trail: Across the top of Dominica
||The Capuchin - Reposoir trail was the main route connecting the communities
of the northern end of Dominica. It traverses difficult but spectacular
volcanic terrain where the steep ridges of Morne Aux Diables have been cut
away by the action of the sea. This has created dramatic cliffs, which gives
the map of Dominica a flat top appearance.
The trail begins at Connor at a point overlooking Pointe Capuchin also known as
Cape Melville by the British mapmakers. Here the Capuchin Cultural Group is developing
an eco-park on a site which combines an Amerindian village, an early missionary
site of the Capuchin Order and a military signal station with a cannon from the
18th century when messages were sent along Dominica by flag and gun signals.
|The trail continues across the Taffia River, called this because the colour
of the water is like the raw rum of old which was called Taffia. We then
climb a series of hairpin bends through Seaman estate passed the small derelict
estate house. Rising to the saddleback, which divides the parish of St.John
from that of St.Andrew, we continue to Seaman's Gate. This was cut through
the stony ridge hundreds of years ago to form a gateway as we go down into
Grand Fond estate.
This is situated in a perfect bowl surrounded by cliffs on the landside and opened
towards the sea. Down more hairpin bends we go until we reach the flat valley
bottom and find ourselves amongst a few ruined and abandoned houses from the days
when farmers spent their weeks working land at Grand Fond.
||Continuing through the estate we turn another ridge and enter Degras Balata
estate with its little stream. Between there and Reposoir Estate there is
a path which leads down to one of the most remarkable landing places on
the island. Here at Reposoir Point, a tongue of volcanic lava juts out into
the sea forming a giant natural jetty. Along the lee side of this rock,
fishermen land their boats and tie them to the cliffside. The remains of
an old crane can be seen.
|Back up on the Reposoir trail we arrive at the small estate house, which
is now falling apart. Turning inland we walk along the side of a valley,
which takes us to Au Jen and Delaford Estate where we meet the motorable
"pitch road". Our route diverts from this and continues up hill
along the unfinished road to Soufriere. This is a huge volcanic crater now
covered in grass, ferns and farms of dasheen and yams. At the base of the
crater we pass the "cold soufriere" where we can see sulphur and
bubbling water but there is no heat.
As we go westward out of the crater we look down onto the northwest coast and
once again across to the French Islands. From here it is down hill all the way
to Guillette and Savanne Paille to Ta Tan and Douglas Bay where one can take
a refreshing swim and look back towards the mountains across which we have walked.
Capuchin - Pennville Trail Reopens
A new visitor attraction and a site for local nature and fitness enthusiasts,
is now open for use after a three-month rehabilitation project. To open the
project, the Capuchin Cultural Group is inviting hikers from around the island
to joint them on a Christmas hike to launch the re-opening of the Capuchin to
Pennville Trail. The trail has been cleared with the assistance of $18,000 donated
by the British Government through the British High Commission in Barbados. Landslides
and debris that had collected over the years has been removed and bush and fallen
trees have been cut by teams from Pennville and Capuchin. Because of the isolated
nature of the trail, the entire project has been done by hand.
The entire project is part of the Capuchin Cultural Group's effort to attract
visitors to the north coast villages of Capuchin and Pennville so to benefit
from the spin offs of heritage and hiking tourism. These include, spending at
the village shops, rental of accommodation, hiring of tour guides, scuba diving
and selling of souvenirs. Based on the efficient manner in which the Group had
utilized the first set of British funds to establish the Connor Heritage Park
earlier this year, the High Commission was forthcoming with a second installment
for the trail. Gilles and Frank Jno.Baptiste and historian Lennox Honychurch
coordinated the project.