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The Chemin Letang - from Rosalie to Roseau
The Chemin Letang or Lake Road began as a Carib track across the island. There are Carib folk tales and mythological stories of things that happened to Caribs as they walked on the path. They told of a giant serpent with one eye and a precious stone on its head, which lived in the Freshwater Lake and rose out of the mist from time to time.

The road was cut and improved during colonial times, as it was the main route across Dominica by land, although many people and much produce went by sea instead. It cuts through a pass in the mountains, which is the lowest gap along the ridge of volcanic peaks in southern Dominica. The pass is still over 2000 feet above sea level however.

The track rises from the Rosalie River and passes up and along the plateau and through the village of Grand Fond. The route continues gently through village gardens before reaching Grand Riviere. After wading through the clear fast flowing river the steepest section of the climb begins to a point overlooking the Freshwater Lake. Another stream is crossed called Laivye Dejeuner because people used to stop, eat the food they were carrying and drink the water from a fine little waterfall on the way across the island. Then the track makes a series of tight hairpin bends as it climbs steeply to the highest point. From here one gets wonderful views down the Rosalie Valley to the Atlantic Ocean and the East Coast and, with one turn, there is the Freshwater Lake and surrounding mountains to the west.

The walk continues around the lake and along the rough but motorable section of the Chemin Letang to the village of Laudat. Much of this route passes through the UNESCO World Heritage Trois Pitons National Park and views of the forested mountains of the park can be seen as one walks.

The village of Laudat was a main resting and overnighting spot for walkers in the old days and a "rest house" was operated by one of the village families for generations.

On approaching Laudat one looks down the Roseau Valley and sees Morne Bruce and the city with the spire of the cathedral dominating. The rest of the route is all down hill with spectacular views all around and at the valley bottom it passes through the old citrus plantations of Shawford, Fond Cani and Bath Estate which are now virtually suburbs of Roseau. Like the people of the east coast in the days of old, who were called "gen Au Vent" (people of Windward side), the hiker enters Roseau across the Bath Bridge and the journey is over, although in times past, loaded with baskets of goods from town, the people of Au Vent had to do it all over again in the opposite direction!


 

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