The five-mile East Coast Rd, opened by Queen Elizabeth on 15 February 1966 affords fine views. From Belleplaine, where the railway ended, it skirts Walker’s Savannah to the coast at Long Pond and heads southeast to Benab, where there is Barclays Park, a good place to stop for a picnic under the shady casuarina trees.
A walk up Chalky Mount has been recommended for the magnificent views of the east coast, easily reached at the end of the bus line from Bridgetown. If you ask locally for the exact path you are likely to be given several different routes. Walk down through the meadows to Barclays Park for a drink when you come down. There is no paved road. Staff in the café will know times of buses to either Bathsheba or Speightstown. The East Coast Rd continues through Cattlewash, so named because Bajans brought their animals here to wash them in the sea, to Bathsheba.
The tiny hamlet of Bathsheba has an excellent surfing beach (see Beaches & Watersports). Guarded by two rows of giant boulders, the bay seems to be almost white as the surf trails out behind the Atlantic rollers. Surfing championships are often held here. A railway was built in 1883 (but closed in 1937) between Bridgetown and Bathsheba. Originally conceived as going to Speightstown, it actually went up the east coast to a terminus at Belleplaine, St Andrew. The cutting at My Lady’s Hole, near Conset Bay in St John is spectacular, with a gradient of 1:31, which is supposed to have been the steepest in the world except for rack and pinion and other special types of line. The railway here suffered from landslides, wave erosion, mismanagment and underfunding so that the 37-mile track was in places in very bad condition. The crew would sprinkle sand on the track, the first class passengers remained seated, the second class walked and the third class pushed.
Above the bay at Hillcrest (excellent view) are the Andromeda Gardens. Owned by the Barbados National Trust, the gardens contain plants from all over Barbados as well as species from other parts of the world. There are many varieties of orchid, hibiscus and flowering trees. T4339261. US$6, children US$3. Every day, 0900-1700. The Hibiscus Café at the entrance is a useful place to stop for refreshment. The Atlantis Hotel is a good place for lunch especially on Sunday (1300 sharp) when an excellent buffet meal containing several Bajan dishes is served. Almost an institution and extremely popular with Bajans, so book ahead.
From Bathsheba you can head inland to Cotton Tower signal station (National Trust owned. Not as interesting as Gun Hill). Then head south to Wilson Hill where you find Mount Tabor Church and Villa Nova, another plantation Great House (1834), which has furniture made of Barbadian mahogany and beautiful gardens. It was owned by the former British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, and until 1994 was part of the National Trust’s heritage trail. It has now been bought by Swiss investors who are opening it as a five-star country resort hotel, T4361710, F4361715. You can continue from here via Malvern along the scenic Hackleton’s Cliff (allegedly named after Hackleton who committed suicide by riding his horse over the cliff) or via Sherbourne (F Coconut Inn, two-room guest house run by Geoff and Terry Browne, who also do excellent Bajan lunches) to Pothouse, where St John’s Church stands with views over the Scotland District. Built in 1660 it was a victim of the great hurricane of 1835. There is an interesting pulpit made from six different kinds of wood. You will also find the grave of Fernando Paleologus “descendant of ye imperial line of ye last Christian emperors of Greece”. The full story is in Leigh Fermor’s The Traveller’s Tree.
At the satellite tracking station turn off to Bath. Here you will find a safe beach, popular with Barbadians and a recreation park for children. It makes a good spot for a beach barbecue and a swim.
Codrington College is one of the most famous landmarks on the island and can be seen from Highway 4b down an avenue of Cabbage Palm trees. It is steeped in history as the first Codrington landed in Barbados in 1628. His son acted as Governor for three years but was dismissed for liberal views. Instead he stood for parliament and was elected speaker for nine years. He was involved in several wars against the French and became probably the wealthiest man in the West Indies. The third Codrington succeeded his father as Governor-General of the Leeward islands, attempted to stamp out the considerable corruption of the time and distinguished himself in campaigns (especially in taking St Kitts). He died in 1710, a batchelor aged 42, and left his Barbadian properties to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. It was not until 1830 that Codrington College, where candidates could study for the Anglican priesthood, was established. From 1875 to 1955 it was associated with Durham University, England. Apart from its beautiful grounds with a fine avenue of Royal Palms, a huge lily pond (flowers close up in the middle of the day) and impressive façade, there is a chapel containing a plaque to Sir Christopher Codrington and a library. There are plans to develop it as a conference centre. You can follow the track which drops down 360 feet to the sea at the beautiful Conset Bay. US$2.50. Getting there: you can take the Sargeant St bus as far as Codrington College, then walk 7 miles back along the Atlantic Coast to Bathsheba.
At Ragged Point is the automatic East Point lighthouse standing among the ruined houses of the former lighthouse keepers. There are good views north towards Conset Point, the small Culpepper island, and the south coast. Note the erosion to the 80-ft cliffs caused by the Atlantic sweeping into the coves.