Stretching the length of the island, the Railway Trail provides a serene 20-mile artery through Bermuda’s parishes, safely away from trafficked thoroughfares. Abandoned as a train route when the island’s railway fell into disrepair after a brief run in the 1930s and ’40s, the trail today belongs to the National Parks System. Well maintained and signposted with interpretive historical information, as well as historic limestone parish markers, the trail is popular with runners, walkers, horseback riders, and nature-lovers. Try two of the best sections on foot or bicycle.
The trail provides a green getaway in these busy central commuter parishes, making a perfect nature-filled expedition through residential neighborhoods.The trail provides a green getaway in these busy central commuter parishes, making a perfect nature-filled expedition through residential neighborhoods. Enter at Rural Hill, Paget, on South Road just west of the Trimingham Hill roundabout. You can park a scooter here at the entrance gates or rent a mountain bike from nearby Oleander Cycles for an out-and-back of your desired distance (the huge limestone quarry at Khyber Pass, near St. Mary’s Church, and back is about 5 miles, out and back to Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is closer to 9 miles). Proceed westwards, through a limestone-walled tunnel, past Paget Marsh and Elbow Beach—accessible via tribe roads—and onwards past the historic Cobbs Hill Methodist Church, scenic Belmont Hills Golf Club, and through thick spice tree woodlands populated with cardinals, lizards, and wild fruits like loquats and cherries.
Various main roads will intersect your journey; be extremely careful when crossing, as there are no speed bumps, stoplights, or crosswalks as yet. You’ll also have to step, or lift your bike, over the metal trail gates meant to prevent motorized traffic. At Tribe Road 2, scoot up to Gibbs Hill for lunch at the onsite Dining Room restaurant, or just ogle the stunning 360-degree views, before retracing your steps.
The beauty of the Railway Trail is that it offers a fairly flat, as-the-crow-flies route for taking in most of Bermuda. The Somerset section is a perfect example, including tarmacadam sections that make it the smoothest stretch for riding a pedal bike. If you’re on a scooter, park at Somerset Bridge, the world’s smallest drawbridge, and watch occasional boats making their way between the Great Sound and Ely’s Harbour in Sandys. Walk westwards through fascinating deep limestone cuts in the cliffsides, now covered in rubber tree roots and other exotic foliage. The trail hugs the coastline for long stretches here, giving marvelous views of the Great Sound. You can venture down to the shore edge, where several spots offer good swimming points to cool off. Continuing on, it’s worth climbing up to historic Fort Scaur to check out the cannons and eagle-eye views.
At Mangrove Bay, where the final Somerset Station stood, you can explore Somerset Village before heading back (out-and-back distance is about 3.5 miles). If you start at Dockyard instead, you can do the route in reverse, bringing a scooter or pedal bike on the ferry from Hamilton, or renting them at Dockyard’s Oleander Cycles outlet.
Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Bermuda.