Shirley Heights Antigua

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Shirley Heights Antigua

English Harbour and the Dockyard, seen from Shirley Heights. A fantastic high level view from Shirley Heights Antigua looking down on Galleon Beach and English Harbour (foreground) and Nelson's Dockyard (slightly to the right of centre). Shirley Heights offers breathtaking and far reaching views over English Harbour and the whole island. Also seen in the photograph is the remains of Fort Berkeley (jutting out into the water slightly right of centre) and Falmouth Harbour (the bay at the top).

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Shirley Heights Lookout Shirley Heights Guard House


This high ground was fortified in the late eighteenth century and the remains of old gun emplacements and military structures can be seen around the area. The heights were named after General Shirley who was the Governor of the Caribbean Leeward islands at the time of construction of the fortifications.

The Heights military complex stands guard at the most southerly point of Antigua, some 490 feet above sea level with a battery of guns protecting the narrow entrance to Nelsons Dockyard in English Harbour. Together with the guns at Fort Berkeley on the other side of the harbour, the dockyard remained secure from attack. 

Shirley Heights Antigua Fort Berkeley Antigua English Harbour Antigua Pillars of Hercules Antigua Galleon Beach Antigua English Harbour Map - Antigua
Click on the interactive photo map above for further information about the area

Next to the Guard House, the signal station used a series of flags (by day) and guns (by night) to alert the island of any attack. The messages were conveyed to St John's and the rest of the island via Great Fort George on Monk's Hill. This simple system could alert St John's in under ten minutes.

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Just below Shirley Heights lies the area of Blockhouse Hill were there is a large gunpowder store (well away from any other buildings). Blockhouse Hill affords fantastic views over the south coast of Antigua as far as Hudson Point to the south east and on a clear day, fine distant views of the Soufriere Hills Volcano on nearby Montserrat island, which erupted in the mid nineties causing widespread damage to the island.

The area is a National Park which has been left wild with roaming goats and exotic trees and plants including a large number of Century Plants. The Century Plants are firm favourites hundreds of local Hummingbirds (image). The goats are not actually wild and they all wander home at the end of the day for dinner provided by their owners. All tourists mistake the native sheep for goats as they look very similar with short coats. A simple method of identifying them is 'tail up' (goats) and 'tail down' (native sheep)!  

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