Mount St Catherine can be climbed quite easily, contrary to popular opinion, although in places it is a climb rather than a walk. There are several routes, perhaps easiest from Grenville. Take a minibus to the Mount Hope road, this is a four-wheel drive track which becomes the path up the mountain. It takes about two hours from leaving the minibus.
A guide is not necessary. Do not go alone, however, and do not go if you suffer from vertigo. Do not take chances with daylight. For information on this and anything else, contact Mr and Mrs Benjamin at Benjamin’s Variety Store, Victoria Street, Grenville. If they do not know the answer they will know someone who does. Mrs Benjamin is on the Tourist Board. Telfer Bedeau, from Soubise, is the walking expert, and can be contacted on T4426200.
The transinsular, or hill road, from Grenville to St George’s used to be the route from the Pearls airport to the capital, which all new arrivals had to take. Now it is well-surfaced, but twisty and narrow. The minibus drivers on it are generally regarded as ‘maniacs’. To give an idea of the conditions, one bend is called ‘Hit Me Easy’. The road rises up to the rain forest, often entering the clouds. If driving yourself, allow up to 1½ hours from Levera to St George’s and avoid the mountain roads around Grand Étang in the dark, although the night-time sounds of the dense jungle are fascinating. Shortly before reaching the Grand Étang, there is a side road to the St Margaret, or Seven Sisters Falls. They are only a 30-minute walk from the main road, but a guide is essential, or else get very good directions. After Grand Étang, there is a viewpoint at 1,910 ft overlooking St George’s. A bit further down the hill is a detour to the Annandale Falls which plunge about 40 ft into a pool where the locals dive and swim. Tourists are pestered for money here, for diving, singing, information, whether requested or not. If coming from St George’s on Grenville Road, fork left at the Methodist Church about half way to Grand Étang.
The peaks in the southeast part of the Grand Étang Forest Reserve can be walked as day trips from St George’s. Mount Maitland (1,712 ft), for instance, is a pleasant morning out. Take a bus from the Market Place to Mardigras, or if there is none, get off at the junction at St Paul’s and walk up. At the Pentecostal (IPA) church, turn left and immediately right. The paths are reasonably clear and not too muddy, but shorts are not recommended and long sleeves are preferable. The walk takes less than an hour each way and there are good views from the top over both sides, with some hummingbirds.
Mount Sinai (2,306 ft) is not as spectacular as Mount St Catherine, nor as beautiful as Mount Qua Qua, but is not as muddy either. Take a bus from St George’s to Providence, then walk up (two hours) the particularly lovely (and friendly) road to Petit Étang and beyond, where the road turns into a track in the banana fields. The path up the mountain is hard to spot; it begins behind a banana storage shed and must be closely watched. The terrain is a bit tricky near the top. There is a path down the other side to Grand Étang. Local opinions differ over how badly you would get lost without a guide as the paths are no longer maintained.
The highest point in the southeast is known on the Ordnance Survey map as South East Mountain (2,348 ft), but to locals as Mount Plima (Plymouth?). You can get up to the ridge, from where there are fine views, but both this summit and the nearby Mount Lebanon are inaccessible without a guide and machete. Here too it used to be possible to descend to Grand Étang but it is difficult now. For this area take a bus from St George’s to the junction for Pomme Rose and walk up through the village. Mayhe Hazard lives near the top of the village and is the local expert on the trails (traces). He is good company and may be prepared to guide in the area; he will certainly show you the trail to the ridge, which you could never find alone.