Into the Wild in Barbados
The temperature drops immediately; only dappled light filters through the tree tops.
Upon arriving at the entrance of the Grenade Hall Tower and Forest, you might immediately think “abandoned monkey kingdom in a jungle”. Imagine unique coral-stone buildings and walls with an elaborate arched black wrought iron gate through which a single curious green monkey or passing troop can be spotted casually sauntering. Bamboo shoots, lush greenery, and tall and elegant palm trees provide a shady canopy under which families and couples can have a blissful picnic on one of the numerous surrounding tables. It is no wonder this hidden gem is so popular with those in the know.
Through the gates, one can either first venture to the left of the information hut up the lush paths to the Grenade Hall Tower, or to the right, which will take you to the nature trail in the surrounding forest. Sometimes in the mid-afternoon, the resident monkeys are fed sunflower seeds, so small troops can be observed snacking and sitting around the grounds: be sure to bring your camera to capture these moments.
The white-walled Grenade Hall tower sits proudly on the hilltop. Such a prominent position is hardly surprising when you consider that this tower is a former signal station. In the early 1800’s, six such towers were erected at strategic points around the island. By using flags or semaphore, the signal stations were able to relay intelligence information and other messages from the capital, Bridgetown, to the North of the island in a matter of minutes. Grenade Hall was in visual contact with Dover Fort to the West and Cotton Tower to the South East.
The interior of Grenade Hall Tower houses a series of interesting exhibitions which explain the history of Grenade Hall and the signal system. These were erected when it was restored in 1992. There are also some artifacts on display including pre-Colombian tools which were unearthed, as well as an audio commentary which provides both extra information and an atmosphere of authenticity as you explore the tower. Climbing the stairs to the upper level of the tower and reaching the landing, you will be in awe of the magnificent panoramas in every direction through the open windows. The view at the top through the east window provides a great photo opportunity: tree tops, rugged green hills and the Atlantic waves rolling into the coast. The balcony overlooks shrubs and trees of colourful flowers, more picnic tables and the Grenade Hall central hut.
As you set off into the forest, you can’t help but notice an all-encompassing tranquility. The temperature drops immediately, only dappled light filters through the tree tops. The sudden silence sharpens the senses and you are quickly aware of the pleasant, earthy aroma of the forest and gentle breeze on your skin. The nature trail consists of an easy-to-follow coral-stone educational pathway that winds languidly through the trees and beautiful outcrops of rock. At regular intervals you will come across sign boards offering entertaining questions such as: “Who says money can not grow on trees?”; “Can nature tell you where to go?”; “Is this a rainforest”?; “How can a plant be nocturnal?”.
No idea? Don’t despair. The answers to each question can be discovered by simply lifting the sliding panel on the front of the sign. Some of the more fascinating facts and information involve plants that were used by slaves as “cures”, and how those same plants are used in modern medicine.
On several occasions the beauty of the forest will entice you to stop and stay for a while. To facilitate this, benches have been placed throughout the trail, just off the pathway and partially secluded.
In addition to the fine collection of trees and plants, there are also some caves you can explore, glorious pieces of weathered coal rock and an interesting variety of tree trunks. Everything is left to grow and develop in its natural state.
So don’t miss out on this gem of an opportunity to enjoy, appreciate and learn about this marvelous natural environment!
Visit Grenade Hall Forest’s profile to view their 360° virtual tour.
Farley Hill, St. Peter
Opening hours: daily from 10 am - 5pm
Entrance fees: Adults – BDS$ 23.50 (US$11.75); Children- BDS$ 11.75 (US$5.75)