A leisurely 2 hour walk took us from the Guma Dam down to the Peninsula Road. You need to get permission to drive into the Guma Valley Dam area before arriving at the gate and, unless you want to return uphill, arrange for a vehicle to meet you at the bottom. The walk can equally be done from the bottom up (returning the same way), in which case, no permission is needed, so long as you don’t go over the dam. The dam is over 2 miles (3.5km) up a narrow track from the entrance gate, reached from a turning off the Peninsula Road before Sussex.
The dam and water works date from the early 60s and are still the main source of water for Freetown. The pipe follows the Peninsula Road along the coast to the city. There is a holding reservoir at Wilberforce where tankers are filled for distribution. Very few houses in Freetown are, or ever have been, connected directly to a water supply. Most properties have water tanks which are filled periodically by bowsers, others make the daily trek to the nearest tap or pump with their plastic jerry cans.
A well appointed roundel shelters picnic tables, while others nestle under lakeside trees. However we were not sure who uses them, given the area is not open to the public, apart from a few locals harvesting mangoes from the trees beside the car park.
The lake, created by the damming of the No.2 river, is very pretty – now at its lowest level as it is the end of the dry season, but the rains should arrive soon to replenish the supply.
The white paintwork looked newly done and very smart.
The spillway is also waiting for the rains.
The path crosses the dam, through the gates, making sure you see the instruction not to open without a pass!
The view down the valley gives an idea of how high we were – the road to Tokeh a faint red line in the middle distance.
The path then enters the forest and is a well defined track as it passes a couple of buildings then starts uphill. Shortly after this, we branched off to the right – not entirely obvious but the path is marked by small red ribbons as you progress. This stretch is a forest track, narrow and winding round trees, so we were glad of the guide. However, after sometime, a few scrambles and changes of direction we moved on to a very well defined track which later became a road – albeit 4WD and in bad repair. It was obviously built for vehicle traffic, but the lack of bridge bed over one of many streams would prevent vehicles using it now.
The forest was peaceful, with only a few bird calls to disturb the quiet. Despite being towards the end of the dry season the foliage was lush, although in parts the path was covered in a deep layer of dry leaves – just like autumn at home, kicking through leaves! Some trees drop their leaves to conserve water until the rains come. There are some surviving large trees, one with particularly red ragged bark was tall and straight, but botanical skills lacking, I could not identify it. Several others with smooth grey bark had spectacular buttresses and root systems. Unfortunately no wildlife to speak of except a variety of butterflies around each stream.
It was a lovely surprise to come across an area where the trees had been thinned and we could see across to the coast and our destination at No.2 River (such an imaginative name!) and, top right, through the trees Tokeh village. The dirt areas are where the road is being improved – from a very bumpy track to a dual carriageway!
From this point it was downhill all the way. Just beside the last stream we crossed we noticed a pipe inserted in the stream, then buried roughly beside the path. We found the reason why, a little way on.
This is the ranger station with a stream fed water tank to service the facilities – another surprise; this is the only place in Sierra Leone I have ever seen a notice like this: ‘Toilet’!! Definitely worth a picture! But none of us actually tried it out.
Not far beyond this we came to the junction with the road which is quite clear on Google Maps. It is then a dusty 2km along the road to the coast.
It should be quite possible to follow this trail from the road end. The higher part might not be entirely obvious, but look for the red ribbons. When you reach the track at the top, turn right for the waterfall – a little further uphill – and then return by same route. There is room to leave vehicles at the start of the track.