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Mount St.George River

Mount St.George RiverThe river starts way up above the village of Mt.St.George at the Hillsborough Dam. Sadly for fear of terrorism, you can no longer stand at the top of he dam to watch the birdlife and the caymans (alligators) that live there, but you can climb the bank on the other side of the road and using binoculars get something of a view.

Driving up the Windward road from Scarborough you cross the Mt.St.George river where it meets the sea and the road starts to climb up through the village. Shortly after the little bakery on the right, you will see a sign marked ‘ Hillsborough Dam’ pointing to a small road on the left with a very large rock on the side of it. Follow this uphill until you see a yellowish wall on your right. Turn left down the small road opposite the wall. Follow this for half a mile or so through the village. Keep a careful look out for a telephone box and a small paved road on your left going steeply downhill. At the junction there is a small wooden building or shed. Take this road down. You will see a playing field below you in a settling that must be the envy of all playing fields worldwide! When you reach the bottom park the car. There are three ways of going. To the right by the playing field you will meet the river with a ford across it. You can ford the river and follow the track until you see the rocks and river to your right, down a somewhat indistinct path. Or you can simply walk up the river. The river runs across rocks with small pools and there is a series of falls, down which the water cascades. Climbing up, however, is easy.

Alternatively you can take the broad green track with its flowerbeds and white concrete seats. Behind one of the seats you will find a set of steps down to the river. Crossing the river and keeping to the left you will come to a water driven sugar mill almost completely in tact having been abandoned in 1870 when the sugar industry failed due to the bankruptcy of the bank back in England. The collapse of the wheel race happened after the earthquakes of 1996. Here you can see the crushing plant, the remains of the sluice bringing the water to the wheel and what is left of the wheel itself. Three of the coppers for boiling the sugar are still there but the two that have been removed give you a clear picture of the construction of the fireplaces below. Fireplaces fed by dry crushed sugar cane known as bagass.

Behind this is a large tank know as a worm tank that had steel pipes running through it under water where rum was distilled. The boiling place for the rum was built on the side of the worm tank. The brickwork is made of English bricks that were used as ballast for the ships when they returned to Tobago no longer laden to the gunnels with ‘wet’ sugar, molasses and rum!

An alternative way is to go down the track to the ford at the bottom where there is a plant and rock map of Tobago, frustratingly upside so you have to view it from on top of the mound on which it is fashioned. Again crossing this brings you to the mill. There are two spectacular samaan trees, one growing right through the old watercourse by the crushing plant, the other growing on the river bank by the ford. Check out the epiphytes using the trees as a home.

Following the river downstream brings you to another series of small falls and pools, which are certainly deep enough to swim and generally gallivant about in. Further down is a small dam and below this is a waterfall dropping into a wonderful round, really deep pool. It is safe to leap into this pool as the rocks overhand the pool and there are no rock obstructions in the pool itself. Access backup is via the rocks on the left of the pool. To return, where the rocks end and the river flows unimpeded, there is a small (tiny) trail on the right that takes you up to the green road that leads back to the ford and the playing field. Going back to the car, drive back up the hill and turn left and continue along this road until it joins up with the road to the dam. Higher up, you will see a waterfall off to your left. Further up again, you come to a small blue and white shed, below which is the remains of a sugar mill and the top of the falls. This is an attractive spot with pools deep enough to get in if not swim in. There are seats to wash your weary feet from the exertions of getting out of the car and walking down the steps. Continuing from here will bring you to the dam. The road from here continues and improves and comes out in Mason Hall, turning left there brings your right back to Scarborough and the highway.

By Mark Puddy

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