Bermuda offers a variety of activities for tourists and locals alike such as visiting the renowned beaches, the Aquarium, and the Royal Naval Dockyard. One of the most popular activities would be hiking or cycling along the famous Bermuda Railway Trail. The trail offers a unique way to explore the island and all its hidden gems along the way.
The island of Bermuda itself is only 22 miles from tip to tip, so many visitors are surprised to hear we used to have a railway system. Railways are usually associated with the need to travel between long distances, so this of course would seem a bit odd in a place like Bermuda. The railroad was constructed due to the government ban of the use of cars from 1908 to 1946 in an effort to preserve the peacefulness of the island. While this did work, it also required an alternative means of transportation for workers and visitors.
After nearly a decade, the railway was completed on October 31, 1931. It was referred to as the “Old Rattle and Shake, and travelled between St. George’s Station in the East end to Somerset Station in the West end. It was at the time, the perfect alternative to cars and offered unparalleled views of Bermuda’s uniquely craggy coastlines as well as its beautiful greenery. The Railway also provided easy access to all of the famous attractions such as Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Elbow Beach and the Crystal Caves as well as the special sightseeing excursions that were offered to cruise ship passengers.
However, the cost of the upkeep continuously led to the loss of money and in the end the Railway was closed in 1948, after carrying over 1 million passengers during its heyday. By 1984 the railway had been completely removed and the remaining trail was designated an area for walkers and cyclists to travel along. It was listed as a National Park in 1986 and has continuously been up kept by the Bermuda Parks Department.
Today, 18 of the railways original 22 miles are still accessible. It is split into nine different sections, each varying between 1 mile and 3 ¾ miles. Each of the various parishes are connected in a winding, peaceful trail where you can enjoy the beauty of the island’s natural flora without the worry of motorized traffic. There are multiple entry and exit points where you can come and go to explore other points of interest of the island as well.
For visitors, please keep in mind that some parts have not been paved and remain steep with slopes and various bridges – for those with mobility issues or babies in strollers, parts of the trail might prove to be too troublesome. For those who are able to access these sometimes rough paths, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views and charming flora and fauna.
For anyone looking for an authentic Bermudian visit, we would suggest a trip along the Railway Trail. It is truly the best way to experience all the island has to offer. Before hitting up the trail, bring you running shoes, a full bottle of water and pick up a copy of the free Railway Trail Guide from the Visitor Services Center.