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TOURS - The Maroons | Reach Falls | Annotto Bay
Tour 18 - East to Reach Falls
Excerpted from the book, Tour Jamaica, by Margaret Morris
WINNIFRED BEACH, like many in Portland, has
streams running into the sea and good swimming. A mile beyond here, smoke
rising from a cluster of jerk huts heralds BOSTON BAY
a beautiful beach donated to the government during the 1950s by Robin Moore
(author of The Green Berets, The Happy Hooker, etc.). As we went to press,
the beach has unkempt showers, changing rooms and a snack bar but no lifeguards
as the Parish Council is hoping to lease it to private operators. An exceptionally
scenic bay with good surf may tempt you to swim at your own risk.
Boston is the home of jerked pork, a spicy snack which originated with
the Maroons who hunted wild boar in the Portland mountains and smoked it
over open fires. You will see and smell it being smoked over pimento wood
in the jerk stalls. There are still wild boar in the hills of Portland and
they are hunted around Durham.
Errol Flynn's Estates start at Boston and include 3,000 acres of coconuts
and cattle pasture with a large herd of Jamaica Reds. The properties are
managed by his widow Patrice Wymore Flynn one-time winner of the title Champion
Farmer of Jamaica. Mrs Flynn, who also runs a boutique at the Jamaica Palace
hotel, enjoys a warm rapport with the local people.
Turn L after Castle Mountain Police Station on to the old road for the
scenic bay where PRIESTMAN'S RIVER enters the
sea, a picture taking stop and delightful for a swim or picnic.
The FAIR PROSPECT Secondary School, a short
distance R of the main road is built on the site of an old sugar works and
an old windmill survives in the grounds. The main crop around here is coconuts.
Along the coast LONG BAY provides a spectacular
view, especially with a norther blowing. The beach is beautiful but dangerous
for swimming because of an unpredictable undertow. More and more of the
seascape is being hidden as cottages are built along the beach. Some of
these can be rented. Midway along the beach, painted in Rasta colours and
built of bamboo is the Long Bay Beach and Fisherman's Park, with a sign
warning "Children at Play, drive carefully." Drinks for the thirsty
and hammocks for the weary available here.
Past the Long Bay Service Station turn along a rough road to view the
lifework of one of Jamaica's grand eccentrics: KEN ABENDANA
SPENCER'S CASTLE. Ken paints to support his building habit. For
years he has been constructing a cross between a fortress and a multi-storied
Grecian temple. He is up to six stories now and still planning a penthouse
and elevated tennis court. Ken is certain that one day his 'architectural
sculpture' will actually be completed and serve as a cultural centre or
luxury hotel. Till then, he is thankful to be able to provide steady work
for some local masons and youths. A fascinating host, he welcomes visitors
who are interested in Jamaica, building, art, and prepared to spend money
Just beyond Long Bay you can detour R up steep RURAL
HILL to St. Mary's, a quaint old Anglican church with a superb
view of the coast. Further on, the seacoast here has some dramatic rock
formations, and there is a lonely stretch of road bordered with thick rain
forest where a deep hairpin bend is known as DEVILS ELBOW
or See-me-no-more. A local legend tells of a horse and buggy Baptist Minister
who miraculously escaped from a cutthroat here.
At KENSINGTON, once a Methodist enclave,
a stream enters the sea by a lovely beach. The locals call it Christmas
River Beach and it is a favourite place for doing the washing or taking
The DARLINGFORD ESTATE took its name from
the original owner, the Duke of Darlingford. Now it is owned by a prominent
Portland family which produced a former JLP Minister of Works, Ken Jones,
and his brother, author Evan Jones whose poem "Banana Man" captures
the essence of the Portland small farmer. ("Thank God and this strong
right hand, I will live and die a Banana Man"). Evans Jones' novel
Stonehaven is a thinly disguised portrait of his colourful family, and of
Jamaican life and politics; it includes a fictional account of his brother
Ken's supposedly accidental death at a political retreat. Their mother,
a Quaker missionary came to Portland from America, defying race and religious
prejudice she married Fred M. Jones a hardworking farmer who later became
the richest man in the parish.
MANCHIONEAL took the name of a poisonous
seaside plant which presumably used to grow here. It is a large fishing
village, formerly one of the first ports to ship bananas. The road skirts
a long beach. Just beyond the Police Station and a tiny cut stone Anglican
church turn R through Muirton property to REACH FALLS
on the DRIVERS RIVER - a leading candidate for
the title "Most Beautiful Place in Jamaica."
Travel 2.5 miles along a narrow road bordered by coconut and bananas with
distant vistas of the Blue Mountains. REACH, secluded and undeveloped and
long may it remain so - has for the past 20 years been unofficially managed
by Frank Clarke who farms the land beside the river. He built the unobtrusive
steps that lead down to the river, employs local boys as guides and lifeguards.
and recently put in changing rooms a short distance away. His helpmeet Angie
has a small shop by the car park and Rastafarian Renford Kenton sells some
craft. Apart from this, Reach is almost untouched. The main falls cascade
into a pool deep enough for diving, there are "pools upon pools"
for half a mile above them and the "Mandingo Cave" which is reported
to be a quarter of a mile long with a whirlpool in the middle. If you are
especially energetic you can even follow the river all the way down to the
Afterwards, it is worth proceeding into St. Thomas. At GRANGE
HILL a short road leads down to the beach at INNIS
BAY - very neglected and rather grubby like all public beaches
in Jamaica but quite scenic nevertheless. Just beyond the beach road Lee's
small wooden cross roads shop is a minibus stop and meeting place for he
district. It has cold drinks (and hard liquor) and is always open. Just
knock if the door is closed.
The school at HAPPY GROVE was founded in
1889 by Quaker missionaries for the children of plantation workers. It is
now run by the government.
HECTORS RIVER marks the boundary of Portland. From QUAW HILL there is a magnificent view over the St. Thomas plains and sugar cane fields to MORANT POINT lighthouse and the easternmost tip of the island.
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