Bermuda Railway Trail
Duration: Half Day
Taking a scenic walk or bike ride along the old Bermuda Railway Trail will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your holiday in Bermuda. Affectionately known as the ‘Old Rattle and Shake’ after the island’s only rickety steam train, this historic route is now a public walkway and cycle path. Look out for a huge variety of endemic plants, birds and animals along the way, and enjoy some of the most spectacular views on the island. This tour provides a wonderful, alternative way to appreciate the coastal and inland beauty of Bermuda.
Completed in 1931, the Bermuda Railway was constructed to provide transport in Bermuda for local residents and the growing tourist trade. Motorised vehicles were banned to keep the island peaceful for visitors, who often came to Bermuda from America in search of tranquility and winter sunshine. The railway only survived for 17 years, however, because structural repairs proved too costly after its decline during World War II. If it had remained open, the ‘Old Rattle and Shake’ steam train would have been an extremely popular tourist attraction today, but this tranquil route still offers a wealth of scenic sights for its visitors.
Spanning 22 miles, the Bermuda Railway Trail runs almost the entire length of the island from St George Parish in the east to Somerset Parish in the west, via the city of Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital. The old rail line is divided in seven sections, which each take approximately an hour and a half to three hours to cover on foot. Aside from a few sections, 18 miles of the Railway's original 22 are accessible today. A guide highlighting the different routes is available from tourist centres, so you can pick and choose which areas you want to explore. Alternatively, a guided tour will reveal some interesting Bermudian facts regarding the history, flora and fauna of the island along the way.
Years ago, the train ran past scenic landscapes and seascapes, via bridges and trestles connecting secluded coves and inlets, and today visitors can enjoy the same natural beauty at a slower pace. Many parts of the trail open out to the coast, offering beautiful panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Great Sound, a body of water shaped by Bermuda’s islands to form a natural harbour. Other highlights along the route include Palmetto Park, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Coney Island, Shelley Bay, Whale Bay Park and Beach, Paget Marsh Nature Reserve and Somerset Bridge, which is reputedly the world's smallest drawbridge.
In order to preserve its natural beauty and historical treasures, the Bermuda Railway Trail was designated a National Park in 2000. There are many hilly vantage points on the way to make the most of the breathtaking vistas, and if you want to cover more ground in less time, cycling is a good alternative to walking. From rocky coastlines, pristine beaches and sparkling turquoise ocean to dense inland woodlands, distinctive architecture and rich wildlife, Bermuda’s diversity is incredible so don’t miss this chance to experience the highlights.
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