Situated in the beautiful south-western region of Bermuda, Sandys Parish (the westernmost of the nine parishes) encompasses several small islands as well as part of the main island. |
The five islands are connected by bridges - one of which, joining Somerset Island to the main island, holds quite an impressive title: that of the world's smallest drawbridge.
Somerset Bridge – The Smallest Drawbridge in the World
Looking like something you'd encounter in medieval England, Scotland or Ireland, the ancient stonework of Somerset Bridge dates back 400 years, to 1620. Even though parts of it were reconstructed in the 20th century, the stonework structure remains largely original to this day.
Shallow, Narrow and Novel
As a drawbridge, it was constructed to open in the middle to allow vessels to pass along the narrow and very shallow channel of water and, with width of only 32 inches, it's hardly a surprise the bridge has earned its tiny title. In its original incarnation, in order to allow a sailing vessel safe passage, the bridge needed to be cranked open manually and raised in the middle. Today, however, it consists of two cantilevered half-spans, with a removable 18-inch heavy timber panel set in between.
While smaller mastless vessels can pass easily underneath the bridge, it's not so straightforward for yachts. As the central timber panel must be removed in order to open up space for the unstayed mast to pass through, a sailboat captain has to rely on the kindliness or curiosity of a passing local or tourist to assist them. Once the panel is removed, it's a tricky feat of navigation for the captain to squeeze the yacht's mast successfully through the incredibly narrow gap and out the other side – and the passer by is left to (hopefully) replace the timber panel securely so pedestrians and vehicular traffic can continue to cross safely between the islands.
A Priceless Heritage Worth at Least $20!
In an historical context, Somerset Bridge is priceless and locals are understandably proud of the island's quirky attraction – so much so that in 2009 an issue of the Bermuda $20 banknote carried an image of the bridge on its reverse side!
Finding Somerset Bridge
Somerset Island is small and very accessible. Any local will be able to give you directions to the bridge, but if you're coming by public bus, number 7 or 8 (from Dockyard or Hamilton City) to the Somerset Bridge stop will deliver you straight there. You'll get some lovely views of the Ely's harbour and its traditional stone cottages from the bridge, and if you want to have a look at the underside, the car park at the eastern end leads down to a park beneath it.
The world's smallest drawbridge is not the only attraction of Sandys Parish, of course. Renowned for its agricultural heritage, and as the site of the first settlers, in Somerset, the area's other diverse attractions encompass picturesque woodlands, nature trails, gorgeous beaches, historical homes and also some very notable fortresses - a lasting legacy of the nation's storied past.
If you're planning a holiday to Bermuda, accommodation in the luxurious and truly spectacular surrounds of the Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, in Sandys Parish, provides the perfect base from which to explore the western region and beyond. Set overlooking the ocean, with no less than four private beaches from which to choose, the resort's stellar location is complemented by its elegant and nurturing surrounds.
Renowned as being amongst the most prestigious and sought after luxury Bermuda accommodation, the facilities of the resort include the indulgent Ocean Spa, three onsite restaurants, a fitness centre, lush tropical gardens, and the shimmering expanse of the picture-perfect, white-sand beach on the doorstep.
With more than 300 years of history and an ambience of refined relaxation, this charming resort promises to put the 'ahh' in Bermuda! (Accommodation at the Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa is adults only.)
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Bermuda at least twice a year. He has been providing luxury Bermuda accommodation as well as luxury holidays to many other destinations worldwide for over 30 years.
Related Articles -