Lover's Leap, Jamaica
Photo Credit: https://jakeshotel.com
by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
If you love a good romantic story, an attraction with stunning views and a bit of history and adventure tossed in, then it’s time for you to visit the Lovers’ Leap attraction in Yardley Chase, St. Elizabeth.
You will be disarmed by the breath-stealing view on display. The 1,700ft elevation serves to enhance the visual display. From the top of the cliff, it seems as though you can see forever. At this height, the Caribbean Sea is sprawled before your eyes offering an uninterrupted view of the coastline from the southern tip of Clarendon all the way to Savannah-la-mar in Westmoreland.
The legend behind this attraction is about Tunkey and Mizzie. They were enslaved people in the 1700s who lived on neighbouring properties. The lovebirds would meet at their secret location regularly. The jealous plantation owner who was also Mizzie’s master Richard Chardley, arranged for Tunkey to be sold, separating the two lovers for good so he would have Mizzie for himself. The couple learned of their imminent separation and decided that they would run away together.
One fateful night, with a full moon to light their path, they decided to carry out the plan. Chardley almost immediately realized that Mizzie was absent and he along with a search party set out to find the lovers. He caught up to them at their meeting place and the distraught couple, with nowhere else to go ran to a clearing near the edge of a cliff. Upon reaching the cliff, they quickly realized they had a life-altering decision to make; be recaptured, possibly tortured and separated forever or jump off the cliff together, one never having to live without the other. Like the many lovers before them who were faced with similar circumstances, they decided to jump off the cliff. Hand in hand, they crossed the clearing and leapt off the edge of the 1,700ft fall leaving Chardley and his search party behind. The place was named Lovers’ Leap for this reason.
If we are to believe an old lady’s account of the fateful night, the two did not die. Instead, they were caught in a golden net cast by the moon. They were seen sitting atop the moon as it sunk at daybreak surrounded by millions of stars. I would like to believe this story and that they lived happily ever after. As a reminder, there is now a wooden sculpture of the lovers placed at a strategic location on the property.
Another thing that attracts visitors to the property is the lighthouse which is situated there. This lighthouse is special in that it is on the highest elevation for any lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere. As the evening gives way to night the light from the lighthouse rotates briefly, magically lighting up distant areas such as Newell, St. Elizabeth. It takes about 10 seconds to complete a rotation. The Port Authority of Jamaica has responsibility for this piece of engineering.
If your sense of adventure is stirred up, you may be in the mood for a hike of about 3-5 hours from the base of the cliff. Several persons (local and visitors), can attest to climbing Lovers’ Leap. The person I spoke to recommends an early morning start. Take plenty of water along with you as this section of the island is known to be hot and dry. The humidity is apparent even in the early morning and late evenings. The hike is reputed to be “exhilarating but difficult and dangerous.”
If you find that you are not ready to leave after watching the majestic sunset display, there are various properties in the vicinity at which you may be accommodated. Among them are a property situated mere meters away from the attraction offering the same majestic views at reasonable rates and there is also accommodation at the Jakes property whose owners currently operate the attraction.
The Lovers’ Leap attraction operates a restaurant and bar which offers Jamaican delights such as saltfish fritters, fish and chips (fries) and alcoholic beverages. There was a weekly live music experience prior to COVID19 and based on the feedback it was really good.
The area known as Yardley Chase is a corruption of the name of the plantation owner Charley combined with the fact that he chased the couple.
I'm sure that by now you want to visit Lover's Leap to hear this story from the very knowledgeable tour guides who will give you a full account of Mizzie and Tunkey's journey while touring the grounds of the property. And if the story alone does not interest you, I’m sure when you throw the views and the food available on top of everything, it sweetens the deal.
I also recommend you read 14 Best Places To Visit in Jamaica My Top Recommendations
- “Lovers' Leap & Embracing the Transient”, Jamaica Observer, https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/style/lovers-leap-embracing-the-transient_156412
- “Lover's Leap, St. Elizabeth”, The Georgian Society of Jamaica, http://www.georgianjamaica.org/blog/lovers-leap-st-elizabeth#:~:text=Legend%20has%20it%20that%20these,%22Lover's%20Leap%22%20in%20St.&text=Chardley%20chased%20them%20to%20the,they%20jumped%20to%20their%20death.
- “Lovers' Leap”, Jamaica National Heritage Trust, http://www.jnht.com/site_lovers_leap.php
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