Sitting on my balcony drinking stout from a pint glass filled me with a cozy sense of familiarity. That the air was chilly and I was watching the mist roll over the hills and the town below left me with the nostalgic feeling of sojourning in the English Lake District of a summer. At nearly 2000 metres above sea level Nuwera Eliya was a favourite haunt for the colonial British escaping the heat of the plains, and with such an English feel to the climate it comes as little surprise. A boating lake and race course, the smell of vegetable gardens, country clubs and lost in time hotels from the days of the Raj all combine to provide a wonderful flavour of a time gone by.
Leaving Nuwera Eliya I drop through the mist into glorious sunshine through a series of sweeping corners on a pristine road surface. Turing off I am soon cycling along a narrow lane with a surface of colonial vintage that leads through fragrant tea plantations up and up through the sweet sent of pine trees. At small lost in time railway stations no one huries or bustles as people wait lazily for a slowly chugging train that will arrive, eventual, and leave when it is good and ready. Friesian cows graze and in small hamlets that have grown up around the station’s friendly shop keepers smile as they greet me with a friendly wave or a cheery “good morning sir”. I wheel on to Horton Plains where, at nearly 2200 metres, there is the eerie silence that always accompanies rolling mist. A tailwind takes hold of me and blows my machine and me swiftly across the moor, and when the mist parts I am treated to flashes of sunlight on the hills far below. And then to the descent – I drop down on a single lane byway below the mist, and thought the eucalyptus trees are glimpses of the plains far far below, bathing in sunshine and stretching off to the south coast.
My days cycling through Sri Lanka’s Hill Country have been rather wonderful, now to the plains and on to the coast.