This year’s event took place on Sunday 15th February. The official start was 6am but some started as early as 4am or later in small groups at times that suited them. This meant that the trail was not overloaded with walkers which would have slowed everyone down. Everyone was able to walk at their own pace and with whom they wanted to. I started at 5.15am.
The morning was dry and cool for the first 2 or 3 hours. I was pulled along by a faster walker for the first 6Km. Then I eased off the pace to one more suited to me. I did not want to run out of coal before the end!
As I passed Salters and Valley Plantations the sun was rising behind a dark rain cloud and a short but heavy shower met us at the Busy Park Station. For a while this made the walking difficult as the black soil stuck to the shoes.
I reached Three Houses by 8.30, which put me right on schedule. Three Houses was one of the sugar factories that the train passed.
Other factories were Constant, Bulkeley, Carrington, Foursquare (on a branch line that went to the Crane Hotel), Harrow, Busy Park, Bath and Haggatts. The Train would have transported the sugar and molasses to Bridgetown for shipment to England.
I made a rest stop at “Burton’s Hole” for refreshment, and continued on to
Fortescue, Consett and Bath. Burton’s Hole is a small pond named after my father by the workers of the factory in the 50’s and 60’s. I only learnt of this a few years ago when walking in the area and visited a rum shop for a beer. When we were children my Brother and I swam and fished in it many times.
After Bath the walk to Bathsheba is along the scenic East Coast passing Martins Bay, Glenburnie, Three Boys Rock, and Tent Bay. There is major erosion of the coast and in some places the sea has reclaimed the land by as much as 4 meters.
I had my final stop at Bathsheba. This was, and still is, a holiday location for Bajans. I ate the last of my food and rested my feet. I reached the East Coast Road at noon and 1 hour later arrived at Sand Dunes Café in Bell Plain for my finishing medal and beer.
I was welcomed by those who started ahead of me and quite a few who started after! I remember being passed in Glenburnie by a man who started at 6am. But I did have about 45 years’ experience on him!
Congratulations to those who organised the walk and arranged for the marking and clearing of the route, water stops, tents, medals and provided help to those who needed it along the way. As with most events there are a few unsung heroes who make it enjoyable for the majority.
This walk takes place through the main agricultural belt of the island. With a little effort the surrounding land could feed the entire population of the island. With the exception of The Valley Plantation and Sunbury/ Hampton there is very little agriculture. This is not a good sign for the future of the island.
In 2016 the date for the Colin Hudson Memorial Train Hike is February 21st. Start time is 6am but many start at 4am or 5am. Some hikers join the “train” at Three Houses. So get a friend and join is.
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