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Guided Walks on Martha's Vineyard

Yankee Plus Dec 2015


by in May 2012
Guided Walks on Martha’s Vineyard
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Local volunteers from the Chappaquiddick Open Space committee lead frequent guided walks on Chappy trails. Highlights along the moss-lined and shoreside trails may include an old one-room schoolhouse, otters and turtles, breeding birds on stands of cat o’ nine tails, gravestones of Native Americans and sea captains, and huge stands of beech trees that rise up from deep kettle holes. Overlooks and benches look out to the “vast and stunning views of Wasque,” where The Trustees of Reservations are restoring the rare sandplain grasses, and where the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sound meet. (Stand there and see whether you can detect “the heady smell of sweet pepperbush” that lives in the nearby forest. Vineyard whalers knew they were nearing home when they smelled the pepperbush wafting over Nantucket Sound.) By early June, schedules of free guided walks (donations welcomed) will be posted on the bulletin board and Web site of the Chappaquiddick Community Center:


Liz Villlard captains the Chappy Ferry on its 527-foot run from Chappaquiddick to Edgartown. But about once a week this former Vassar professor leads groups on “Ghosts, Gossip, and Downright Scandal” walking tours. Don’t let the title fool you: The ghosts (and gossip and scandal) are really just a way of enticing you into some Vineyard history, mostly in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. Villard relates the hijinks of Lafayette Rowley’s ghost as a way to introduce a character who arrived at a turning point in island history: when vacationers began coming here in the late 19th century, ending the island’s insularity and ushering in the age of the Vineyard’s still-dominant tourism economy. To make a reservation, call Vineyard History Tours: 508-627-8619; leave a message. Walks for 4-15 people are $15 per person.


Certified herbalist and forager Holly Bellebuono will meet you anywhere on the island and lead a guided walk, identifying local herbs and suggesting ways to turn them into salves and teas. A popular meeting place is the Polly Hill Arboretum (, in West Tisbury, which also hosts scheduled walks with Holly and others. Bellebuono, author of The Essential Herbal for Natural Health, also loves the Fulling Mill Brook Trail in Chilmark. “It crisscrosses streams and bogs,” she says, “over wooden bridges and footboards, going from the depths of cool misty bogs, up to heights from which you can glimpse the Atlantic.” She adds, “I’ll introduce people to catbrier (you can nibble the green tips), Indian pipe, and the Sassafras Tree,” which holds a special place in Vineyard history, she explains: “It was the tree sought by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602 when he ‘discovered’ the island. He was looking to harvest its root, as it was in high demand as a medicine in Europe.” It’s not every day that you can nibble on 400-year-old history and make tea from it a couple of hours later. Herb walks are $25 a person and last an hour and a half. Call 508-687-9600 or e-mail: for reservations;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.


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