A Lay of the Land
Scaur Hill Fort and Park is located in the western parish of Sandys. If you’re on a scooter, it’s an ideal place to stop on your way to or from Royal Naval Dockyard.
The Story Behind the Fort
The fort was built in the late 1860s to defend the Royal Naval Dockyard against a possible attack. Tensions were high after the American Civil War and it was feared the triumphant Union would exact revenge on British Bermuda for its support of the Confederacy. (Though officially neutral, Bermuda got rich trading with Confederates as they circumvented the Union blockade of Southern U.S. ports.)
The attack never came, and 70 years later, Americans were posted to the very fort that was built to defend against them. U.S. troops bolstered Bermuda’s defences here during World War II. A decade later, in 1957, Fort Scaur became one of the first fortifications in Bermuda (there are 90 or so) to be opened to the public.
Cannons to Gardens
The fort sports cannons, gun emplacements and a cleverly designed defensive moat, which stretches from Ely’s Harbour to the Great Sound and now forms part of a meandering 22-acre garden. Two 64-pound guns (one is still there) were mounted on disappearing carriages that recoiled for reloading after being fired. The fort was built to be barely visible from the sea, and it contains subterranean passages.
The moat now forms part of a meandering 22-acre garden.
Fort Scaur is also home to the venerable old Weather Stone, touted by islanders as a reliable barometer. A notice board helpfully informs visitors to Fort Scaur that “if ever it is white on top, it is snowing”.
Walking Trails & Wildlife
As you venture through the woods you’ll find a couple of steep trails leading eastward down to the Railway Trail along the shoreline.
If you visit in late winter you’ll see locals eagerly stretching their arms upwards into the trees to pick juicy loquats. At any time of the year you’ll see rich flora and fauna; coconut palms and flowering palmettos, yellow-bellied kiskadees, monarch butterflies, small lizards – perhaps even a blue heron. The fort is a romantic spot for couples, particularly on moonlit summer evenings.
Bring lunch and if you’re lucky, the best bench in the park will be free; it’s located at the tip of a grassy knoll on the Ely’s Harbour/Atlantic Ocean side. And the view? This is the place to take panoramic pictures and maybe even use your selfie stick.
The fort is open daily and offers restroom facilities. The No. 7 and 8 buses will get you there from the City of Hamilton.