Hike Barbados: Barclays Park to Chalky Mount, May 2022

It’s been a while since my wife and I had gone hiking. We’d talked about from time to time but always ended up doing other activities. Typically when you think of Barbados, hiking isn’t one of those activities that springs to mind, however, this island is more than just beaches and ocean. There’s a very vibrant outdoor culture here with hiking, mountain biking, trail running and some camping. There are clubs that organize group hikes for a fee or donation but if you’re feeling brave enough, some hikes can be done on your own.

This particular week, we were celebrating the Barbados Celtic Festival which returned after a two year absence due to Covid. As part of the week long activities, an early morning hike in the Scotland district was arranged. We assembled around 6:00 am at Barclays Park on the East Coast Road (Ermy Bourne Highway) After a briefing, we set out. There must have been about a hundred hikers of varying skill levels.

Pre hike briefing.

The first section of the trail had a fairly steep incline. This, we thought was going to be a nice leisurely hike but the more experienced regulars took off like it was a trail running competition. My heart is already beating out of my chest. Some others were already struggling a bit as they tried to keep pace but in situations like this, you have to go at a speed that’s comfortable. There were guides to help if you fell behind. The plan was to split into two groups when we reached the top of that first hill. The so called “professionals” would go one way to a more difficult and longer trail while the second group, the “stop and stare” would go the less difficult trail at a slower pace. As it turned out, some parts of this “easy” route were pretty difficult.

This 4.8 km (3 mile) hike has an elevation gain of approximately 195 metres (640 ft) Some were tested on that first hill as there was substantial elevation gain from the start.

For us, this was the first time hiking this trail. It took us through grassland, wooded areas, across a small stream, between a few houses and onto the street through the village of Chalky Mount. This area is renowned for it’s pottery making and dates back to the 1800’s. Back on the real trail, we were treated to some the most amazing views found any where on the island.

East coast looking south towards Bathsheba.

Onward and upward, more stunning vistas and unusual rock formations. We headed to the memorial cross which is the high point on this trail. We negotiated this part of the trail carefully as there were a few steep drop offs but all in all, nothing too scary. A rest stop there, pause, relax and take it all in.

You can see the Keith Laurie cross at the high point in the background.
East coast looking north to Cattlewash and Walker’s Reserve.

The Keith Laurie Memorial Cross erected to honour the late senator and agriculturist.

After the break at the cross, we headed to the famous picture hole. We used the fixed rope to help us through some tight and steep sections.

So at last we made it to the picture hole, can’t tell you how many times we’d seen it on Instagram so of course we had to get our shots in. In addition to all the stunning scenery around us, his was one of those special things about the hike.

The Franz Phillips Memorial picture hole named for the late landscape photographer and avid hiker.

It felt so good to be out in nature again. This three hour hike was exactly what we needed but as you know or may not know, descending is most of the time a bit tricky. I think the guides took us down a seldom used trail and that was quite the challenge. One section was like rock climbing, the rope however was missing but with great teamwork, we were able to overcome that obstacle. The rest of the way down was a scramble with loose rock, scrub grasses and tree branches to hold on to. We also had to look out for the occasional cactus. I would suggest doing a guided hike for your first time but after that you could do it with a few friends. Hiking in Barbados is definitely a thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s