Bowden Hill Falls, Saint Andrew

Bowden Hill Waterfall, a.k.a. Falling Edge Falls, is nestled away in the rural community of Stony Hills. This area receives very high rainfall annually, making it a suitable site for catchment facility the Hermitage Dam and Reservoir. If you’ve ever wanted to see one of the two notorious corporate area reservoirs, consider this killing two birds with one stone. Nothing I’d found online mentally prepared me for my adventure on the 30.12.16, but I owe previous blogs many thanks for ensuring I was prepared with sneakers (phew! because I usually approach water bodies in flip-flops). I nearly didn’t see the falls today because I didn’t realize how very far apart the reservoir and falls are. I’ll describe the trails as best I can, for anyone choosing to quench their wanderlust with this treasure.

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Bowden Hill Primary and Junior High School

The Journey

Recruiting a party of nine we began from Half-Way-Tree, travel centre and capital of the Saint Andrew parish. From here, Google Maps serves well until you reach the Bowden Hill Primary and Junior High School (formerly All-Age). The drive took about an hour. By no means is the Hermitage Dam a tourist spot! However, if you must sate curiosity (honestly, how often will I find myself with this opportunity? . .), take the path to the right of the school and be guided by the beckoning roar of water till you find it. There are two paths to it; each offering a different view of the place. If you have time or interest, and weather permits, do find them both.

The waterfall trail, as indicated above, is left of the school. Lost on the Hermitage dam paths, we were forlorn that our waterfall-seeking adventure may have been in vain, when two residents who we drove past earlier found and helped us. After a chat and some rapport establishment, we politely spewed our exasperation for the absence of signage. Hopefully this is addressed, because they seemed to listen earnestly to our concerns. Therefore, maybe your visit will be better (and if so, thank me later haha 😂). At this point they began sharing their development plans for the area. It is their community after all, and nosy people like myself come encroaching, so it is good to see them recognize that they have revenue-earning potential.

The 20-minute hike trail looked like this, and at the fork, go left.

Otherwise, the trail is pretty straightforward but wet, and there were occasional trickles of tributaries (I assume) along the way. Your zeal will be rewarded with: a WATERFALL.

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Falling Edge Falls, Saint Andrew

The Waterfall

Bowden Hill Falls is a gush of white water leaping over an estimated height of 40 feet to plunge into a crisp cold linn. Brrrr! It felt like what I imagine the ice bucket challenge did. If you have the thermostat of an average person (sadly I don’t), you’ll adjust once part of your body is submerged. I still enjoyed myself immensely, and got to wash off the sweat and struggles from that hike! The hour we spent by the falls made everything worth the trip. The falls and surrounding rocks had at least 12 residents, but they were hospitable. Also, the linn moves gradually from ankle depth to too deep in which to stand as you approach the falls, so tread cautiously.

Lessons Learnt

Be friendly! Keep your guard up of course, and use your instincts. However, don’t let pre-conceived notions cloud your judgement. The manner (or appearance) of the male(s) willing to assist may take you aback at first. If you roll up in multiple cars and windows up, you’re going to put off people (. . .and have them try to financially exploit you), yet even so they probably won’t carry feelings. I have never heard of the hikes here attracting charge, but we were each requested $500 initially and told that that is the “normal price.” Rather negotiable men they were since clearly, none of us had had nor budgeted for that sort of money. Nonetheless, tip generously since residents are not obligated to show you around their haven, especially if you go there visibly displaying your differences in wealth.

Wrap Up

Quite a memorable and authentic Jamaican experience this was! It gets 4/5 stars ☆☆☆☆ from my book, because despite finding the trails on a well-kempt day, the water temperature and initial difficulty in choosing the right trail detracted from the experience. I do love to hike so I never minded the time nor effort much, but that feeling wasn’t mutual for everyone in my group.
Tips: ✔ As with all deep water bodies, APPROACH WITH CAUTION!!!!!! Please.
✔ No mosquito problem by the falls that day (maybe because of smoke from the fire at which the residents were cooking 🤔 ), but come prepared with DEET repellant.
✔ Roll your windows down if you drive. HAIL THE PEOPLE YOU PASS; a wave or “hi, wahpm” counts. You actually can public-transport it though, as shown here.
✔Sneakers are a MUST. Carry warm clothing.
______________________

P.S. If you find a Rasta guide called Seco, you’re in good hands ☺. ‘Til next time. ✌

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