Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Part 2 of 3

Spittal Pond Nature ReserveDay 4
Our adventures started at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. We spent a couple of hours exploring the thirty-six acres of flowers, trees, and shrubs. Make sure to visit the cacti / succulent hillside since most ascents in Bermuda are rewarded with a gorgeous vista (this one was completely unexpected and my plan is to build a café at this location after retirement). There’s a rose garden too.

Our next stop was Spittal Pond Nature Reserve in search of Portuguese Rock (formerly Spanish Rock). Bermuda Journey: A Leisurely Guide Book (1958) describes Spittal Pond thusly:

“The origin of this curious name is unknown, but there is a Spittal in Yorkshire, mentioned in Cobbett’s Rural Rides, which may possibly furnish a clue. The water of the pond is brackish, and at all seasons of the year wild birds can be seen resting there or hovering near by; the isolation of the pond suggests that it would make an ideal bird sanctuary. Between the pond and the shore are three curiosities, of which the best known is Spanish Marks. This was the cryptic inscription found by the first settlers, crudely carved in the rock, on a high bluff overlooking the ocean.”

The surge from Hurricane Jose made parts of the trail impassable BUT with shoes (and socks) removed we pushed on. There’s NO signage in the nature reserve SO finding the bluff (yeah, it’s a bluff) is a real true-life adventure. I’m not sure vacationers would choose this nature reserve in a top ten, but for bird watchers / birders and those seeking quiet it’s an incredible destination. The ascent to Portuguese Rock is a proper hike so budget time, wear appropriate footwear, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. This isn’t a stop you make in a bathing suit and flip-flops.

The view from Portuguese Rock is absolutely humbling. The site is marked with a sign that reads:

A bronze plaque near this sign records an early inscription believed to have been carved in the stone by survivors off a Portuguese ship wrecked on Bermuda’s reefs in 1543. The original carving has deteriorated but the bronze plaque was cast from a lead mould taken of the inscription in 1893.

The site was formerly known as Spanish Rock because the initials were mistakenly thought to be those of a Spaniard. Later research, however, interpreted the initials as R.P. (an abbreviation for Rex Portugaliae, King of Portugal) and the cross as the Portuguese Order of Christ.

The stranded Portuguese mariners did not stay long but built a new vessel and left the island.

After leaving Spittal Pond we drove west on South Road to Brighton Hill Road. We stopped at the Old Devonshire Church whose interior is entirely lit by candles. It wasn’t open, but we walked through the graveyard. Our approach to the City of Hamilton took us past the U.S. Consulate on Middle Road. We had two planned stops in Hamilton— Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity and the Historical Society Museum. Unfortunately, the latter was closed so we visited the City Hall and Arts Centre WHICH turned out to be serendipitous.

The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity is an Anglican cathedral located on Church Street. According the Bermuda Journey: “Among the materials combined in the fabric of the Cathedral are Bermuda stone, quarried from the Parlaville property; Bermuda cedar; Caen stone from Normandy; freestone from Nova Scotia; stone and oak from Indiana; pitch pine, granite monoliths, and paving stone from Scotland.” The nave, pulpit, stained-glass, organ are all impressive. The altar screen is beautiful and features the sculptures of Byllee Lang (more on her shortly). We climbed the 155 steps of the tower and were once again rewarded, this time with an impressive view of the city and harbor.

The City Hall and Arts Centre contains the Bermuda National Gallery. It also has a slightly jaunidiced portrait of Her Majesty The Queen. The BNG has three permanent collections and my favorite was the wing displaying paintings of Bermuda from artists like Henry M. Gasser, Abbott Graves, and Catherine F. Tucker. There was a special exhibit (Celebrating Women Artists) that included a sculpture of the Virgin Mary in plaster by Byllee Lang and photograph(s) from Edith Watson.

Exhausted from our BIG hike and exploration of the City of Hamilton, we had dinner at the Village Pantry in Flatts Village. I had the special— Wiener Schnitzel & Hefeweizen Grapefruit Beer.

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