St Lucia

St Lucia

Imagine. The sky from dawn is that deep blue that gives a profiled edge to everything in the landscape. The colours of the vegetation, the exotic plants, the tumbling rocky shores and the sandy beaches become etched into the memory.

Relying on the ebullient vivacity of our loquacious coach driver, Lincoln, we were entertainingly ferried up, down and across the island each day from our base in the northern port of Rodney Bay. Lincoln was rather larger than life, a source of detailed knowledge about plants, personalities and places and just indiscreet enough to be hugely entertaining in his presentation of his material. Everyone warmed to him.

Our walks were very varied and covered pretty well all of the islands terrains. What follows is a sample of that variety.

A stroll across the beach at Gros Islet and a stiff climb to the lookout point on Pigeon Island, inspecting the fortress built to defend the island from the French by Admiral Rodney in the 1700s. (The island changed hands fourteen times, so the resultant mix of cultures enervates the climate). We returned from our walk via boat across the Bay in the afternoon glow of sunshine and Rum Entenete Cordials.

A longish 16km trek through the Des Cartiers southern rainforest trail to Fond St Jacques on the west coast. An exhilarating experience affording fascinating close inspections of flora and fauna and fantastic distant views of the Pitons, of which more later.

The Fond d’Or Nature Historic Park trail through the ruins of an old sugar mill and round rugged Atlantic headlands to the warm welcome of a street reggae band.

A gentle walk on the Atlantic coast whilst being informed of the properties of indigenous plants and their associated folklore as medicines and love potions – a receptive audience throughout. The nearby flourishing Botanical Gardens with their exotic colours were an excellent antidote to some especially interesting road-side wine tasting.

The 6Km Millet track, again through rainforest, had fourteen peaks to ascend but was compensated by being followed by a visit to a rum distillery which offered unlimited tasting of two dozen different kinds of rum. Most of the Ramblers could not later recall what ended the day! It was a boat trip on the spectacularly beautiful Marigot Bay.

A sight-seeing day included a cassava bakery, the Fond Doux chocolate plantation and a visit to some sulphur springs before the opportunity to snorkel on Chasenaut beach. Now that’s variety for you!

Lincoln was very keen to take us to a waterfall swimming pool situated at the head of a deep coombe-like valley. The exertions of the walk were amply rewarded by the freshness of the swim in the deep pool below the waterfall. The ladies in the party also had the chance to admire a local Adonis not quite having the bravery to dive in off intimidatingly high rocks. Ah well.

And then the ‘highlight’ of the tour: the climbing of the 1000m Gros Piton. The Petite and Gros Pitons are conical volcanic cores rising sheer out of the sea on the western side of the island. They are spectacular from a distance and they are spectacularly energy-sapping in their ascents and in their descents. No one can say it was a pleasure to climb in the 80-degree humid conditions but the rewards at the top were truly memorable.

In between the walks and visits we had a couple of days in which to visit Castries and its vivid markets, counting ourselves fortunate not to be on one of the many Cruise ships that call and disgorge their passengers daily. We could also laze on the beach, swim in the azure sea, sip our rum punches and generally watch the world go by. We even celebrated notable birthdays. In the evenings we dined under the stars, listened (and danced) to steel bands, sipping the rum punches the while.Ramblers Worldwide holidays are of course made by the characters in the group and how well they gel. We were fortunate indeed in that we were very ably and entertaining led by our Group Leader and in the party we had a couple of entertaining characters full of wise-cracks and questionable advice. To protect the innocent let me call them Pat and Pat, for there might have been a distant Irish connection somewhere. They were a bundle of laughs, well Pat was, and group members responded to their anecdotes and observations on our activities with such warmth that I’m sure many are smiling still.

Discover our 15 night St Lucia Walking Holiday.