Segment 1 of the Waitukubuli National Trail is located in the southern-most communities of Dominica, and showcases the volcanic nature of that part of the island. The 2 coastal villages have traditionally survived on fishing, though today many villagers find employment in the capital Roseau, located 35 minutes away.
The villages are located along the main southern highway running from Roseau, and are serviced by public bus and private taxi. The trail head is located at the Caribantic Building and on the peninsular located at the ‘end’ of the Scotts Head village.
The Communities - Soufriere and Scotts Head
Dominica’s most southerly villages of Soufriere and Scotts Head are better known for their abundance of fish and aquatic related activities. In the area the mysterious waters of Gayak close to the Sulphur Springs of Soufriere, and the old shrine on the headland, which draws pilgrimages during the hurricane season and Easter time, can be found. The villages are situated ten miles south of Roseau.
Most of the people of the area follow the Roman Catholic faith. The historic church building which stands majestically near the bay on the northern end of Soufriere village has been standing for over one hundred years, and has survived several hurricanes.
The strong francophone influence after occupation by the French still remains. The proximity to the island of Martinique has helped to keep the French culture alive. There was a time when it was easier to go to Martinique by boat than to travel to Roseau. French names dominate – Jervier, Tavernier as well as names of places - Bois Cotlette in the heights of Soufriere, and Tou Sable in Scotts Head.
Soufriere had been at one time the premier lime producing area of Dominica, and the ruins of the old lime and sugar factory are still evident. In the valley behind Soufriere are the active sulphur springs which gave the village its name.
Soufriere village is at the base of a volcano – sleeping but snoring. More than a decade ago, there was a mild eruption, which while not causing anyone to evacuate, had many villages worried. Evidence of volcanic activity are the hot sulphur springs and the bubbling along the seashore between Soufriere and Scotts Head and on the sea bed directly in front of the Church. There is also a collection of half ruined buildings at Bois Cotlette, evidence of the sturdy provincial type houses, a fine example of an early French coffee and sugar estate. There one can find the only remaining windmill tower in Dominica.
In days of old the livelihood of most villagers came from fishing and working on the Soufriere estate owned first by the AC Shillingford and Co. and then L Rose and Co. The world’s famous Roses Lime juice came from Soufriere. Lands of the former estate were given to the government, and have been sold to the villagers.
Scotts Head, located a mile south of Soufriere is best regarded as a sleepy and breezy village, and once served as an important lookout point for the French during their military action with the British in1778 and 1805. The ruins of Fort Cashacrou remain on the headland, and most of the batteries and ramparts of the fort have fallen into the sea.
Cashacrou is the original Carib name for that which is being eaten by the sea. The English called it Scotts Head after Captain Scott, one of those who gave their names to places in Dominica after capturing the island from the French in 1761.
Snorkelling and scuba diving within this location have been said to be spectacular.
The route covers one of the more volcanic areas of the island and traverses a region once known for large scale sugarcane, citrus and cocoa production - today overgrown and wild, with cultivated species of flora and fruit trees.
The segment starts on the narrow isthmus separating the Caribbean and Atlantic on the sleepy fishing village of Scotts Head, and meanders through the community and up WavineCwabier, an area of dry forest stands (and known for its ravine, today dry) where herons and egrets (locally called cwabier species of bird) feast on the local crabs that are plentiful along this trail. The highest point of the trail is 500 meters.
The trail also provides glimpses of local fauna and the many species of birds and butterflies, culture and heritage at the Old French Quarter (ruins of which can be seen along the trail) and the Bois Cotlette estate which features the remnants of estate life and the only windmill powered estate on the island, Dominica’s sulphur springs, as well as spectacular panoramic vistas of the Atlantic coast line, the gentle Caribbean Sea, and neighbouring islands.
The segment ends at the Soufriere Sulphur Springs. 'Soufriere' is the French for a place where sulphur exists. When the French were in control of Dominica King Louis XVI ordered that sulphur baths be built here for the troops to bathe in.