Ok so you are an Ice and Snow kind of guy and your wife has dragged you kicking and screaming from the best ice climbing in years down to sunny ice free Barbados. What do you do to compensate? Well at least I can high point the island. Small compensation I know but still worth a spot here on Summit Post.
Mount Hillaby or Hillaby’s as it is commonly called by the Bajans is the highest point on this very beautiful Caribbean nation. The Peak is located in what is called the Scotland district in the parish of St. Andrew. With many rolling hills, a few cliffs and some open areas of heather it does somewhat resemble the highlands of Scotland save for the marvelous climate, great beaches, a total lack of Scots and things Scottish. Mind you, they do have rum distilleries rather than whisky distilleries, which you can get free tours of but unlike in Scotland they give out very generous fee samples. Anyway, I digress.
The peak offers a marvelous view to the east and the rugged Atlantic coast of Barbados. From here, you can see the very beautiful beaches of Bathsheba, its famous soup bowl (best surfing in the Caribbean) and the distinctively white Chalky Mountain. The view in other directions is obscured by the forest cover on the top of the peak. Why the original inhabitants of the island never exploited the interior of the Island to any great extent is clearly understandable when looking down form this peak. From the top one see just a very imposing dense carpet of jungle with tall Palm trees sprouting over top and only the occasional sign of human habitation being visible. From here one gets a very good impression of what the island was like before is was colonized and largely deforested.
The mountain itself is broad a ridgeline that rises sharply from a cleft in the eastern highland plain to its high point then drops slowly down and into the sea after about 4km. Not a pointy topped mountain more of an extended ridge with a road that travels all the way to the top. At the end of the road a small trail with some steps leads a few meters into the bush where you can find the actual summit post and its summit marker.
Geologically Hillaby and the area around it is made up of sandstone and chalk with a core of volcanic rock. This is in contrast to the rest of the island that is made of simple coral limestone. In a few spots on the beaches and near the cost the volcanic rock can be found and a few short and easy sport climbs can be had though falling on the very sharp rock is to be avoided.
Its true height is somewhat of a mystery to me as I have at least 4 different values ranging from 320 to 344m and the summit survey marker is no help as the height was not engraved on it. There is no official government view on this as I asked the chief of the survey department and he could not give me an answer. So I think an expedition is need to discover the true height of Mt. Hillaby. The value I used was from the one offical topo of the island I have.
Expect Barbados maps to be particularly inaccurate and not helpful at all when exploring the island. The most accurate topo I got from the survey department was from 1952 and last updated in 1985. In all of the remote areas of the island (and most of the other places as well) there are no such things as road names, signposts or street numbers!
Bajans are only too happy to give you directions such as "go down the hill and make go above then up the hill and go below at the left-right and follow the road after there is none left” Technically "above" means go North and "below" South and a left-right is fork in the road- but don't bet on it! The island isn't large enough for you to really get lost though so don't panic. Any major road leads to Bridgetown and there are plenty of friendly people and rum shops along the way to help you out.
You will have to find the village of Hillaby, which you can reach by heading along either Highway 2 or 2a and then turning inland, either to the west or east. After passing though, the village you follow the road uphill until it runs out near a colourful Rastafarian Artist commune. On the right hand side of the road there will be a small set of steps leading up into the bush and the summit marker.
The people on the island are very freindly and helpful and one is perfectly safe roaming around through the remote areas. Of the many Bajans I have talked to I have yet to find one who has actually climbed up to thier highest point save for the few people who live there.
One interesting note I have just discovered is that the summit marker is the original one that was placed during the international geophysical year in 1957. One of the myriad projects that took place in that year was to mark the high points of all political territories in world. From what I have discovered the maker on Hilliby is one of the last of these to be in-situ most if not all having been removed by souvenir hunters, mother nature or officials over the years.
Camping and Permits RedTape etc
No red tape at all.
Canadain & US citizines only need a birth cirtificate and and return air ticket to get into the country while most EU types need only a passport and a return ticket.
On the island camping out on public land is strictly banned and you are limited to private land with written permission from the owner for no more than 2 nights. This is understandable as it keeps the hotel industy going and keeps the riff-raft out.
If you really want to camp out you can check out Hike Barbados
they may be able to help you.