Belcour Lodge (10 minutes from Papine in Maryland, reservation required) is a beautiful private, colonial-era home set in a lovely river valley amid expansive gardens. Robin and Michael Lumsden offer Culinary Tours that include a stroll around the yard. Visitors will find an apiary with 50 colonies, a citrus orchard, and an abundance of other fruit trees. Robin and Mike markets Belcour Blue Mountain Honey, as well as Belcour fruit preserves, chutneys and spicy pepper sauces, produced on a cottage-industry scale from all natural, local ingredients.
Maryland to Hardwar Gap
Turning left at the Cooperage onto the B1 leads up a series of some 360-plus hairpin turns that can leave unaccustomed passengers a bit nauseated. The windy road first passes through the lower hills and valleys of Maryland before reaching the principal hamlet along the route, Irish Town. Irish Town has as its centerpiece St. Mark's Chapel, a quaint little church reached by taking a 15-minute walk along a footpath.
The Twymans grow some of the best Blue Mountain Coffee. The estate is run by David, son of owners Dorothy and the late, great coffee farmer Alex Twyman.
Holywell National Park (entry US$5, or US$1.50 for residents) sits atop Hardwar Gap, affording a view of St. Andrew Parish to the south and St. Mary and Portland to the north. The birding is excellent in the 50-hectare park, which borders Twyman’s Old Tavern Coffee Estate on the north side and is a haven for migratory birds in the winter months. Hiking trails lead to a few peaks, and there’s also a loop trail.
Catherine’s Peak quickly becomes visible rising to the right as you drive up to Newcastle, a Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) training camp, from Red Light, the small community following Irish Town. The summit is easily identified by the clutter of communications antennas at the summit. The peak is a one-hour hike from the Parade ground at Newcastle, where there is plenty of parking. A rough road goes all the way up, but it becomes impassable to anything but a four-wheel-drive vehicle.