Ferry Reach is a beautiful place but few know the park’s history. Here are 6 facts about Ferry Reach we recommend you knowing before you go.
1. Ferry Reach used to be the starting point of the ferry between St. George and the mainland. The ferry ran for 250 years, until the causeway was built in 1871. The ferry was a casual affair, and the government allowed a member of the public to run it in return for “free gift of the people.” In other words, the ferryman could charge what he liked, or tell people to go away.
The ferry carried carriages and horses across the passage, and eventually became important for carrying mail. A small slip extends into the ocean from Ferry Island, which was historically used to load larger cargo. A usual load for the ferry could have been 800 people and about 60 horses.
2. Ferry Reach is the second largest park in Bermuda, but seems larger because the railway trail continues eastward. Past Whalebone Bay you can continue all the way along to the previous “privilege” stop for Vincent Astor. He owned 22 acres adjacent to the park, and in 1930 built a railway stop for himself on the edge of his estate, which fringed the tracks.
3. A visit to Ferry Reach wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Lover’s Lake. This magnificent nature reserve is a unique example of fringing mangrove habitat. Where most mangrove swamps in Bermuda contain the red mangrove – characteristic for its huge prop roots, Lover’s Lake is dominated only by black mangroves.
If you look closely at a black mangrove leaf, you’ll see that it is layered with salt crystals. Excess salt from the water is excreted through the leaves. This pond is an important habitat for the Bermuda killifish and the Lover’s Lake killifish – it is thought that each pond’s population of killifish is a separate subspecies.
4. This serene bay is a central part of Ferry Reach and the snorkelling is excellent. It’s a popular beach used by BIOS for snorkelers, and first time SCUBA divers. In particular, damselfish, parrotfish, and west-Indian top shells are very numerous. If you can manage it logistically, try and combine a hike around Ferry Reach with a swim at Whalebone Bay.
This area contains a stretch of the beach with black sand. This is the only place on the island where you can see evidence of Bermuda’s volcanic past – here, black volcanic sand peers through the usual Bermuda pink sediment.
5. There is at least one geocach at Ferry Reach in Bermuda. Geocaching is a popular activity that adds a little bit of a treasure hunt factor to your hikes. Participating individuals are given the coordinates of one of the geocaches, which leads them to its general area. Once there, they have to scour the ground and look for hiding spots until they find a container – geocaches can be from the size of a pill box to a lunch container.
Inside, there is usually a log where people can write their name to indicate they have found the cache. There may also be little trinkets that previous geocachers have left behind. Bring a GPS with you when you go to Ferry Reach to find some geocaches.
6. Ferry Reach is home to three separate forts. On the smaller island, called Ferry Island lies the remains of Ferry Island Fort. To access the island you have to take a small bridge off the main dirt track.
Martello Tower is the most recogniseable fort, as the original structure still remains. It is surrounded by a dry moat.
Beyond Martello Tower, at the very edge of Ferry Reach stands the remains of Burnt Point Fort. Built in 1688, it’s primary use was to monitor early illegal trading by local sailors. This fort is unique among Bermuda’s forts because most were built as a defence against invasion by sea.