The west coast road from St George’s has been rebuilt with funds from the government, the Caribbean Development Bank, the EEC and USAID. It is good all the way to Industry. Only the section from Industry to Sauteurs has particularly rough patches but it is fine in an ordinary car with care.
Beauséjour Estate, once the island’s largest, is now in ruins (except for the estate Great House). On its land are a Cuban-built radio station, a half-completed stadium and squatters; the owners and the government cannot agree on the estate’s future. Beyond Beauséjour is Halifax Bay, a beautiful, sheltered harbour.
At Concord, a road runs up the valley to the First Concord Falls (45 minutes hot walk from the main road or go by car, driving slowly, children and vendors everywhere), where you can pay US$1 to go to a balcony above the small cascade. The Second Concord Falls are a 30-minutes’ walk (each way), with a river to cross seven times; a guide will charge EC$20 but there is no need for one, the path has been improved and security at the lower falls has stopped occasional thefts, but it is slippery when wet. You should not swim in the pools as they are part of the island’s water supply. Three hours further uphill is Fedon’s Camp, at 2,509 ft, where Julian Fedon (see History) fortified a hilltop in 1795 to await reinforcements from Martinique to assist his rebellion against the British. After bloody fighting, the camp was captured; today it is a Historical Landmark. It is possible to hike from Concord to Grand Étang in five hours, a hard walk, wet and muddy but rewarding (see Flora & Fauna). The trail is hard to spot where it leaves the path to the upper falls about two thirds of the way up on the left across the river. There is no problem following the trails in the opposite direction.
North of Concord, just before Gouyave, is a turn-off to Dougaldston Estate. Before the revolution 200 people were employed here in cultivating spices and other crops. Now there are only about 20 workers, the place is run down, the buildings in disrepair, the vehicles wrecked. Still, you can go into a shed where bats fly overhead and someone will explain all the spices to you. Samples cost EC$3 for a bag of cinammon or cloves, EC$2 for nutmeg, or there are mixed bags; give the guide a tip.
Gouyave, ‘the town that never sleeps’, is a fishing port, nutmeg collecting point and capital of St John’s parish. At the Nutmeg Processing Station, you can see all the stages of drying, grading, separating the nutmeg and mace and packing (give a tip here too). The husks are used for fuel or mulch and the fruit is made into nutmeg jelly (a good alternative to breakfast marmalade), syrup or liquor. The Station is a great wooden building by the sea, with a very powerful smell. A tour for US$1 is highly recommended. Gouyave is the principal place to go to for the Fisherman’s Birthday festival. On the last Friday in every month from May-December, Gouyave is open to tourists on a grand scale, with tours and walks during the day. In the evening the main street is closed to traffic, there is food, drink and music and dancing.