by Chris Doyle
If you look around you while anchored in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, you will see the very pretty hill line to the north above the mangroves, now broken by a big new Italian house perched on top. Look to the east and you will see Chapeau Carre, the tallest hill visible from the Tyrrel Bay. Standing 290 metres above sea level, it is second highest hill on Carriacou. (The highest hill — High North — is only a metre higher, so if you really want to feel you have been as high as you can get on Carriacou, carry a small step ladder with you.)
Hiking Chapeau Carre is a lovely walk, but it can be hot, so early morning is best both for coolness and for the light for the view over Tyrrel Bay.
It takes about two to three hours round trip from the Tyrrel Bay Marina dock. There is an unmarked path of sorts, which is steep towards the top. It can be slippery on mud when wet and on leaves when dry.
From the Tyrrel Bay Marina dock, walk to the road at the main south exit, turn left, then take the next right down a good straight road with several houses on either side. Take the first left-hand turn. This road bends around and climbs slowly into the hills. It starts off paved and turns to dirt. For the most part you have a view on your left and a hill on your right. The road follows upwards around this hill.
Continue till you come to a small junction straight ahead where the dirt road divides in two. If you stand at this junction and look at the left-hand road, you will see a gap in the hedge into a field almost opposite where you are standing. (Longhand version: turn left at the junction, walk a couple of feet and turn right through the gap in the hedge.)
Enter into the field and now the adventure begins. Walk up through the field, making friends with any cows in the path, until you see a small trail on your left that goes into a dense thicket with a small pond (usually dry). It is not far along the trail so you will quickly find it if you have the right trail. In the shade it is cool. Walk round the west side of the pond and follow the trail going uphill. You will come into a field where you head uphill and bear left when there is a gap in the bush. This will bring you to a ridge.
A fairly well marked trail on this ridge leads to the east. You follow this a short way till you come to a somewhat open area which is a little north of the ridge line. Here you need to turn right and head uphill till you find yourself on the proper ridge path above. Turn left on the trail and follow this ridge all the way to the top of the hill. There is no trail crew; you may have to scramble or find your way round fallen trees. The path is mainly in the woods, which gives shade, except for one clearing where you begin to get a good view.
You emerge out of the trees at the very top of the hill. The view of Tyrrel Bay is outstanding. The whole bay is laid out before you in miniature like a brightly colored children’s book painting. You also get great views of Sandy Island, Union, Hillsborough, over the southern islands to Grenada, and to the east.
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