Antigua April 7-12, 2010 

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

Four Ridges

As is our wont, we have been doing a lot of early-morning hiking.  Other islands have many pages in the guides devoted to hiking opportunities;  Antigua does not.  So we -- the crews of Tusen Takk II and Arctic Tern -- have been pleasantly surprised to find interesting treks close to our current anchorage in Falmouth Harbour.  Each of them has involved a certain amount of walking on streets or roads, but they all have also afforded us with the opportunity to get out onto trails.  And not only human trails, but in some cases goat trails and in other cases no trails at all:  just bushwhacking through the brush.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.  Let's look at the particulars:

Proctor's Point (33 meters)

On 4/08 we took a dinghy in to Catamaran Marina, just north of where our two vessels are anchored.  From there, we kept taking left turns on the roads until we reached a trail that led out onto the southwestern point that guards the entrance to Falmouth Harbour.  Along the way we found interesting seeds (suitable for making jewelry) and interesting signs.  The view from the Point is well worth the walk.

Proctor's Point as seen from Tusen Takk II

Falmouth Harbour as seen from the Point

Great George Fort (Monks Hill -- 209 meters)

On 4/09 we again took the dinghy to Catamaran Marina, and again took an initial left turn onto the main road that passes by.  But this time we had our eye on the high ridge to the north of the Marina, so we watched for a chance to take a side road that would lead to the western end of the ridge.  We found one, and soon enough were off all roads and following a goat path through thorny bushes.  Here is a salient fact:  goats are shorter than we are.  So it was slow going, but an adventure.  Hunter and I both expressed regret at not having our machetes along.  When we got to the top of the ridge, we were surprised and delighted to discover an extensive wall.  Making our way along its southern face, we eventually came to a gap that permitted us to enter inside what was to become evident as a compound, and there we discovered a large stone building.  Further exploration revealed that the stone wall had once totally enclosed the high ridge, and that much of the wall is still extant.  We discovered a dirt road entering the compound through an arched gate from the north, and followed that road back down the ridge to the east and subsequently to the main road.  Would-be Antigua hikers:  if following goat paths through thorns is not your cup of tea, we would recommend visiting the Fortress via the dirt road from the east.

Monk Hill (site of Great George Fort -- north of Catamaran Marina) as seen from Tusen Takk II

Barb and Devi explore the stone building within the compound

Hunter examines the hinges that once held the gate on the north entrance to the compound

Falmouth Harbour as seen from Great George Fort

Cherry Hill Ridge (155 meters)

On 4/10 we yet again took the dinghy to Catamaran Marina, and again initially went left on the main road.  Our objective this time was to get to the top of the ridge that runs along the west shore of Falmouth Harbour, south of the main road and north of Proctor's Point.  On the previous day, as we were returning to the Marina, we had stopped to chat with a couple of elderly locals, and we had asked about the possibility of hiking the ridge to the west.  The friendly oldsters had assured us that it was possible, and volunteered that the ridge was known as Faggot Hill.  Then, on the morning of 4/10, while we were still on a road, we met a lady out for a walk, and she affirmed that it was accessible, and called the ridge Sugar Loaf Hill.  Later, we found that Doyle's guide calls it Cherry Hill, and that Sugar Loaf Hill (317 meters) is the higher ridge just to the west of Cherry Hill.  So far as we know, there are no plans to resolve any of this confusion by renaming anything else after any American Presidents.

Cherry (or Faggot) Hill as seen from Tusen Takk II

Century plant in bloom

Closer look at the top

After it blooms it dies, leaving a tangle of dead leaves and a dead woody stalk that will eventually tumble

Closer look at the dead leaves of a deceased Century Plant

Flower on a cactus

Devi removes a stone from her shoe

Bushwhacking down the ridge

Falmouth Harbour as seen from Cherry Hill

Middle Ground Ridge (81 meters)

Having spent almost four hours on our hike the previous day, on 4/11 we decided to indulge in an "easy" hike, and so we chose to revisit the ridge that runs from Black Point to Fort Berkely Point.  The ridge is known as Middle Ground, and it is perhaps the best location from which to observe the regatta races off to the south.  We were fortunate to have decided to traverse the ridge from east to west, because that took us through the dock area of English Harbour, and there we found a welcoming party in progress for a team that had just arrived from across the Atlantic in a rowboat.  Sixty-three year old Ole and his much younger nephew Brian had taken just under 94 days on the trip.  They were being weighed as we arrived, and Brian turned out to have lost about 24 lbs on the voyage, whereas Ole had lost an incredible 64 lbs.  As if making the crossing at his age were not remarkable enough, we learned that Ole was a cancer survivor who must now wear a colon bag.  We had a very pleasant conversation with Ole, and learned that he was a Danish transplant to Canada, and that he had made his fortune as a waffle maker.  At the time of the sale of his business, some five years ago, he had just recovered from his bout with cancer.  He had bakeries in several Canadian cities, and was supplying waffles to such American firms as Wal-Mart and Kroger.  A truly remarkable man.

Welcome sign for Ole and Brian

Young Brian being weighed

Their high-tech boat

Talking w/ Ole

English Harbour as seen from Middle Ground

Late that afternoon we enjoyed watching the locals race their mini sailboats

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