Exploring: Fort Shirley

On the morning of April 17th myself, mum, CP and Nena went to explore Fort Shirley. Fort Shirley is an old military garrison dating back to the 18th century, first occupied and built by the British but later taken over and improved by the French. The garrison was abandoned in 1854 but restoration work started in 1989 by Dr. Lennox Honeychurch and so far the Officers’ Quarters, Soldiers’ Barracks, Powder Magazine, Ordnance Store, Guard House and Ramparts have been fully restored.

Welcome - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Welcome - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Our trip started by taking the dinghy from Ripples II at 9am, arriving at the dock shortly after. From the dock we walk through the cruise ship terminal to be abruptly stopped by a rather rude and unnoticeable security guard. He asks us if we are going to inform him about us leaving our dinghy at the dock so we tell him we were just looking for someone to tell. After a short encounter with him we are on our way to the ticket office, which is actually a café, where we purchase our park tickets before heading up the trail to the fort.

Trail Head - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Trail Head - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

We reach the fort and are amazed by how well restored everything is. All the building are tastefully painted and all look original despite the level of restoration that has gone into them. We wander around the buildings, most of them are locked so we can’t actually explore the insides but we can only imagine what is inside. One building we can get into is the Gun store. A few cannons site in the entrance and at the end of the long, thin, white room is a cage with cannonballs of various size lie on the floor and shelves.

Cannonballs - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Cannonballs - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Just like everywhere else we have visited, cannons are in plenty and all look untouched and original, all pointing out to sea as they would have been when the fort was in use. As we look out over the bay the view is breathtaking, we can see straight out to sea one way and over the entirety of Prince Rupert Bay and Portsmouth the other. The Officers’ Quarters impress me the most our of all the buildings. It sits loud and proud at the centre of Fort Shirley, again it is locked but I can only imagine what lie inside.

Officers Quarters 1 - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Officers Quarters 1 - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

As we meander around the grounds we notice lots of small, skittish, lizards amongst the grass. I spend far too long trying to get good pictures of these lizards, sitting right in the sun with the heat beating down on me with no mercy while I balance my camera and 100-400mm superzoom lens atop my small travel tripod. I succeed in my venture and come away with some great pictures of the small, skittish, Lizards.

Laurence The Lizard - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Laurence The Lizard - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

From here mum and I part ways with CP and Nena while they head off further up the trail to explore more of the area. Mum and I head back down to where we started to go snorkelling round the corner in the next bay. On our way down though we come across more lizards, a little less skittish this time. The one I got the best photo of was sat in a patch of sun that had made it’s way through the canopy above us.

Leo The Lizard - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

Leo The Lizard - Fort Shirley, Portsmouth, Dominica 17/04/2016

When we finally arrive back at the bottom of the trail we quickly grab a drink in the café, cool off in the shade and notice another Lizard perched on the windowsill above us. We try our best to grab some pictures, which we succeed at, before finishing our drinks. From there we head back to the dinghy and off to snorkel in the cool clear water in the next bay.

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Thanks for reading!

Rob