Community Buffer Zones
Most people travelling to Holywell use the road from Papine through the communities of Irish Town, Redlight and Middleton and on through Newcastle – the Jamaica Defence Force training station. Irish Town is so named because of the Irish settlers – many of whom came to Jamaica as overseers for the coffee plantations owned by the English. In 1841, Major General Sir William Gomm, Commanding Officer of Her Majesty’s Forces in Jamaica, moved the training camp to Newcastle to escape the outbreak of yellow fever at Up Park Camp in Kingston. This move saved many English soldiers from death and the site remained a military station from then; today it is used mainly for training. The community of Redlight got its name as it is reputed to be the town the soldiers visited to enjoy “music, liquor and women”. Today, Redlight “Square” is a bustling bus terminus with activity round the clock.
The communities of the Rio Grande Valley are nestled between the Blue Mountain and the John Crow Mountain ranges. Further up the valley (above Fellowship) where the mountain ranges are closer together, the area is particular lush and beautiful with numerous streams and waterfalls. The biological diversity here is very high as the ecosystems of the two mountain ranges are quite different because the geology of the Blue Mountains volcanic and metamorphic and the John Crow Mountains are sedimentary (mainly limestone). Further, this area is the main habitat for the endemic giant swallowtail butterfly (Pterourus homerus also known as Papilio homerus) – the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere
Formerly New Nanny Town, Moore Town is the home of the Moore Town Maroons. Nanny of the Maroons is Jamaica’s only female national hero. The Maroons of Nanny Town were first allotted 500 acres of land after the signing of the Peace Treaty in 1740. "Granny Nanny" saw the need for more land and made a request to the British government in 1781. There was an allotment of 1,270 acres of land which was called Moretown. Due to misunderstanding and errors, the town name was recorded in the survey document as Muretown and later Moore Town. Maroons also live in neighbouring Cornwall Barracks.
The Charles Town Maroons occupied Crawford Town high in the Blue Mountains before signing the Peace Treaty with the British when they moved down to Charles Town on the Buff Bay River, where they remain today. The leader of the Charles Town Maroons was Nanny’s captain, Quao. Maroon communities are lead by an elected leader – the Colonel. In the photograph below, Colonel Lumsden explains some Maroon traditions to BJCMNP Education Officer (Mr. Taylor) and Conservation Science Officer (Mr. Beale). You should note the “abeng” he is holding in one hand – this is a cow horn used by the Maroons to signal the beginning of a battle or to give various commands to the warriors.
The Blue Mountain Peak Trail takes a hiker to the highest point in Jamaica (and the sixth highest in the Caribbean). Blue Mountain Peak is 2,256m (7,402 feet) high and is located on the Grand Ridge of the Blue Mountains, within the National Park. For the very fit, hiking trails start in Mavis Bank or for the not so fit you can enjoy bird-watching in the gardens at Forres Park. 4WD vehicles can travel through Mavis Bank across the Yallahs River Fording to Hagley Gap and then to Penlyne Castle, where the hiking trails end up. From Penlyne Castle past Whitfield Hall, Jacob’s Ladder takes hikers to Lookout where the Blue Mountain Peak Trail officially starts. There are several guesthouses in the area, but the last rest-stop on the Peak Trail is Portland Gap, located within the National Park. At this point, the user fee must be paid (if it was not paid already at JCDT (the BJCMNP office) or through participating guesthouses – where an official ticket would have been issued).
There are several plans for the area however, these are still in the very early stages of planning.