Lady Brassey, In the Trades, the Tropics and the Roaring Forties, 1885
November 13th, 1883
[this journey was being made in 'a light, springy buggy'.]
pp 290-5   At last we reached the culminating point of our expectations, the Gully Road, which, in the way of beauty, far more than realised all that we had imagined. My heart fails me when I begin even to think of trying to describe that wonderful gorge, as seen on the most brilliant of moonlight nights - brilliant even for the tropics.
Here Nature shows herself in her wildest and most romantic moods. The highest flights of fancy of the brush of poor Gustave Dor
é, or of the pen of Jules Verne, could but inadequately depict the fantastic beauty of the scene which on every side met our astonished and delighted gaze. To compare such a magnificent and successful effort of Nature with any production of Art seems scarcely appropriate; and yet the first idea that occurred to my mind was - what a charming transformation scene from the pencil of a Beverley, or what a splendid feature in one of those feéries so exquisitely produced in the theatres of Paris, the tableau that was now spread before us would make! It was so mysterious and unconventional in its loveliness, and it had such a glamour of inexplicable unreality about it, due, perhaps, in great measure, to the effect of the bright semi-silvern, semi-golden light of the moon, shining through or illuminating the wreaths of silvery film that rose from the snowy spray of the innumerable rills and rivulets, falling from the edge of the sharp precipices in a thousand cascades and waterfalls. Sometimes these tiny streams seemed to find their way unseen through the rock for a certain distance, and then to burst forth, shooting straight from the face of the almost perpendicular cliffs. The vegetation, watered from so many sources, was, as may be imagined, of extraordinary luxuriance, even for this land of profusion. It was impossible, in the course of our rapid drive, to ascertain with precision the nature of the verdure; but we could recognise masses of delicate ferns, shading each pool and rill, and themselves overhung by glorious tree ferns, their graceful feathery crowns poised on stems thirty or forty feet high. From among the ferns rose the giant stems of the silk-cotton trees, their buttress-like roots looking weird and wild indeed in the moonlight. Every crevice in the cliffs seemed to be filled with creepers; while grand rope-like lianes, richly covered with orchids, swung gently in the cool night-breeze
 from the tops of the rocks, or from the branches of the tallest trees. Lower down, the wild-fig grew from tree to tree; or, climbing and twisting round one alone, embraced it so tightly that it seemed as if it would in all probability shortly kill the object of its too close attentions. The variety of scenic effects was endless. Sometimes the rocks so nearly met over our heads that the branches of the trees above, closely interlaced and bound still more tightly together by our old friend, Entada scandens, and other twining plants, formed a thick roof, quite impervious to every ray of light. Now and again it seemed for a few seconds as if we were about to plunge into a bottomless abyss. Then we would emerge into a more open part of the gully, where the bright rays of the now fully-risen moon penetrated freely, casting the blackest and weirdest of shadows among the fantastically-shaped rocks and the abrupt and deeply cut precipices, full of hollows and caves and grottoes, and transforming - so it seemed to our quickened fancy - the spurs of the silk-cotton-tree into huge beams and props, and the great lianes into boa-constrictors and pythons, hanging by their tails to the branches of the trees, in readiness to spring across our path and to envelop us in their deadly coils.

                                More dark
And dark the shades accumulate.

        Like restless serpents, clothed
In rainbow and in fire; the parasites,
Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The gray trunks. . . .

                                    The woven leaves
Make net-work of the dark blue light of day,
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable
As shapes in the weird clouds.
[from Shelley 'Alastor']

The long feathery fronds of the tree-ferns , too, cast shadows that looked like dancing plumes advancing to meet one another from either side of the road. Then we would suddenly and unexpectedly come to a small savannah, where the valley widened out and lay peaceful and silvery-looking beneath the rays of the moon; while the dewy drops on every blade of grass and every leaf shot forth gleams of light, like brilliants of the purest water. The evening breeze was heavy with sweet rich odours; a mass of snowy blossoms, or a bright patch of colour here and there, betraying the presence of Nature's laboratories, and the position of one of the many sources from which these overpoweringly sweet odours were wafted. It was indeed a dream of the fabled Elysium, a vision of fairyland; but, like all such visions, it quickly passed away from our eyes, as we emerged from the Gully Road and continued our way towards Ocho Rios.
Even though we had lost some of the loveliest features of the scenery by not arriving by daylight, on the whole we probably gained by the lateness of our visit. It is certain that what we saw would not have been so enchanting and so astonishing - so thoroughly soul-inspiring - by day-light, as it had been by night; and we were glad that our first view of the spot was gained under such favourable circumstances. Tomorrow we hoped to pay it another visit and to examine more closely those trees and ferns and those long feathery plants and bright flowers.
Once past this gem of picturesque beauty, it was not long before we came to the first of the eight streams which give to Ocho Rios its Spanish name. Cottages and bungalows became more frequent; and at last we entered the small town or village itself. Our train of carriages at once attracted attention; and we were surrounded by quite a large crowd for so small a place.
p 306 . . . we reluctantly and regretfully gave up the idea of paying a second visit to the Gully Road . . .