Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Bend & Chesterfield Gorge

  
   I first heard about The Bend in West Chesterfield from a friend. She recommended it as a great swimming spot for the family. I got on Google and did a little research and read that it had a tiny strip of sand for sandcastles and that it was perfect for a cool dip in the Westfield River. I couldn’t wait to visit it!

   Finding it was a little tricky. If you are coming from the Northampton area, you take Route 9 through downtown Williamsburg, and then turn left onto Chesterfield Road (Route 143). You take this for several miles into Chesterfield and then (after going across a bridge) take a left onto Ireland Street. Around half a mile down the road you will pass a yellow house on your left (I think there were two yellow houses and it was the second one, but I could be wrong about that) and immediately to the right of that house is a dirt road that looks like the driveway for the yellow house. Turn left on that road (it isn’t marked with anything). You will think that you are in someone’s driveway and that it isn’t the right road but it will go behind the house and down a little hill. You will come to a fork in the road with a sign on a tree and you will want to go on the road to the left (I’m not sure what would happen if you take the road on the right…that might lead to the parking lot as well, but I didn’t try it out). You will drive down to a little parking area that has a little clearing in the trees that will lead you to the “beach.”

A view from the parking lot to the path that leads to the river.

   I couldn’t really find the strip of sand that I read about, but I did find a whole lot of rocks. Lots and lots of rocks! There was only one other person there when I arrived, but more adults started to show up later on. There were no children under the age of (roughly) 16 years old. After talking to some of the locals, it was determined that the current “beach” was a result of last year’s hurricane. Apparently, last year (and in the years prior) the water level was much higher and there was more sand and the rocks were all under water. I have to admit that I was disappointed in the lack of sand and also with the swimming. The water got really deep really fast and the rocks were a little difficult to walk on. My son had NO interest in going in the rocky water. I highly recommend bringing water shoes for your child if you want them to go in! But it was still beautiful to look at and my son did  have a fun time playing with the rocks and throwing them into the water.

The "beach"


   My opinion of The Bend is that it is a fun place for an older crowd to spend the day and go swimming. It’s also a beautiful place for picture taking and getting your feet wet. But I didn’t think it was very child-friendly as far as swimming goes (although I’m sure there are many hardcore locals that will disagree with me). Perhaps I was misinformed about what to expect or maybe it has changed drastically in the past year. Maybe I'm just spoiled from playing on the beaches of the Great Lakes (like Tawas Bay on Lake Huron!) when I was little, who knows. I wish that I could have seen The Bend before the hurricane hit. Maybe then I could give a fair assessment.







    After we left The Bend, we took a left back onto Ireland Street. Shortly down the road we turned left again to see the Chesterfield Gorge (there was a sign for it). There’s a small fee to park (so make sure you bring some cash). There is a wire fence and path that runs along the side of the cliff. There were a lot of people out walking their dogs. I’ve heard rumors of people swimming in the Chesterfield Gorge, but I couldn’t figure out how they would get down to the water. I didn’t hike very far because I had my son with me, so I’m not sure what I would have discovered if I would have kept going down the path. The sights were beautiful though and I had a great time taking pictures!









   Although I had a successful picture-taking morning, my poor child didn’t get much of a chance to swim so we stopped at (one of our favorites) Musante Beach in Leeds. We swam, relaxed and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon!



   Even though I was a little disappointed with The Bend, I’m still glad that I had a chance to visit it. Please write in if you know of any additional hidden swimming spots! I love to go exploring!

   For more information about the Chesterfield Gorge, visit http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/pioneer-valley/chesterfield-gorge.html. For more information about Musante Beach visit http://www.northamptonma.gov/recreation/Musante_Beach/.         


1 comment:

  1. Great informative article! AWESOME pics! I really feel that I've seen this area through your experience, thanks Lisa!

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