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TOURS - Negril |  Westmoreland |  Montego Bay

Tour 14 - To Montego Bay from Ferris
Excerpted from the book, Tour Jamaica, by Margaret Morris

When you have retraced the coast to Ferris Cross, you can turn R and head over the hills for Montego Bay. As you climb Whithorn Hill you will get wazzu a panoramic view of the Westmoreland plain: shimmering canefields stretching south all the way to the sea and to a low range of misty blue hills. Perched above a good picture taking spot is the tiny Cokes View Methodist church.

Between the villages of Whithorn and Haddo, at a deep bend in the winding mountain road there is a Rastafarian craft-cum- food-cum-accommodation establishment. The Fairview Baptist Bible College was founded in 1963 by an independent Baptist Mission in the U.S. with the objective of training Jamaicans for the Ministry.

The Knockalva Agricultural School R and half a mile in from the mainroad offers a 3 year residential course to boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 17. The school was established in 1940 and its program was expanded with assistance from the Dutch government. Classroom studies include chemistry, biology, physics, maths, english, farm management and mechanics while practical experience is gained on the attached 260 acre farm. The administrative block is housed in an historic great house built in 1859. The former owner Major Malcolm , a member of an order of Scottish Masons modified it in 1912 adding several features of religious significance and a garden landscaped as Gethsemane. This was the first house in Jamaica to be illuminated with gas lamps ñ the gas was piped from the basement to wall fixtures.

The Knockalva Secondary School R is a west large, 2-shift school. Just beyond the Ramble Post Office and police station R the Mount Ward Methodist Church built in 1895 has a cornerstone laid by one of the Malcolms of Knockalva.

Haughton Grove R and Shettlewood L are land settlement sites. Originally small plots of land were leased to farmers. Today the trend is towards larger plots and land ownership. Several small farmers are now growing oranges under contract to the Citrus Company of Jamaica.

The nursery and offices of this new venture are on the R of the road. At the next crossroads a sign directs you to turn R towards Belvedere Plantation, a very popular tour. Belvedere covers a thousand acres of citrus, pasture and forest along the banks of the Great River. The ruined great house is the site of a re-creation of traditional farming practices and an introduction to a blacksmith's forge, a mule-powered cane crusher, 'country food' like wet sugar, bulla cake and local medicinal herbs. Owners of the estate, the McGanns also operate the Beachcomber Club in Negril.

The slave-built Barracks Bridge over the Great River is close to the site of a military barracks built in 1773 and besieged by slaves in the rebellion of 1832.

A JDF camp just before the Montpelier crossroads was originally intended to be a residential agricultural school. It was one of three Cuban gift schools built during the 1970s regime of Michael Manley. The other two, Garvey-Maceo in Clarendon and Jose Marti near Spanish Town are used as secondary schools. The Montpelier school was unfinished when the Cubans were expelled by the JLP regime and became an army camp.

From Montpelier, its an easy run downhill into Montego Bay.

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