If I didn’t live in Kingston, I would have to live somewhere in the Newcastle area. It attracts me on so many levels: the delicious air, the views of the city and the sea, the mountains and the moving clouds, the drifting mist and sunlight. Oh – and there are birds.
Formerly a coffee plantation, the military camp at Newcastle was established as a hill station for British troops in 1841 by Sir William Maynard Gomm (Britain’s longest ever serving soldier). The death toll from yellow fever down in the plains was growing too high (about two or three soldiers per week); many died soon after arrival. Newcastle was more salubrious. In the old days, soldiers marched in their red coats all the way up (and down) from Kingston to Newcastle, a distance of 16 miles. Phew!
Since Independence in 1962, Newcastle has been a Jamaica Defence Force training camp. Houses large and small are dotted around. I remember, years ago, staying at an old-fashioned house (with a fireplace and chimney – it gets chilly at night, especially in winter). The caretaker (probably in his sixties) looked down on the city below – as he no doubt did every day – and told us he had never ventured there in his life, and did not intend to; he did not see the need to do so. I understand.
Nearby Hardwar Gap (between Newcastle and the Gap Café, a lovely spot) is one of our favorite walks. In the latter half of the year, the air is filled with birdsong. Heavenly!
(All my photos)