Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Our full day in Cape Breton was spent driving around the coastline that the region is famous for.

We set off from our rental house in Englishtown to take the Englishtown ‘ferry’ that crosses St Anns Bay. The term ferry is correct is so much as it does float on water….just…..but it is a cable driven ferry and you almost feel you can touch both sides of the crossing while on it.

Named Torquil Maclean after an individual who ran the first ferry across the bay and ran  it for 50 years in the late 1800’s. 


The crossing is a mighty 210m so get out of the car or blink and you might miss getting off the ferry at the other side.


The route we are taking today is the Cabot Trail, in an anti-clockwise direction. This road is named after John Cabot, an explorer who landed in Atlantic Canada in 1497.


Not long after we begin out drive we get an early wake-up call as we almost run into a moose that was walking in the middle of the road.  As we braked he shifted to the opposite lane and continued walking some distance ahead of us before crossing the road again and into the bush.




Views here of the coastline as we approach the small town of Ingonish.



On our drive we enter and exit and re-enter Cape Breton Highlands National Park.


We start a short walk up to a nearby viewpoint.  Mum, Dad and I on the walk.


There are good views from the look out at the top along the coastline and surrounding countryside.




We retrace our steps back to the car and continue along the Cabot Trail, views here from some of the numerous viewpoints along the road.




Soon we reach the small village of Neils Harbour. 


A converted lighthouse serves as a concession stand.  There’s good coffee here but it’s a long wait !


Another view of Neils Harbour


From Neils Harbour we tour off the Cabot Trail for a short way taking the smaller coastline road where the Cabot Trail has veered inland.


We get great coastline views from this route.




We rejoin the Cabot Trail which now crosses the Cape Breton Highland peninsula away from the East coast heading for the West coast of the island. About halfway across was good timing for lunch and we found a perfect quiet spot adjacent to the shallow Aspy River in a location called Big Intervale.


Soon after we set off from lunch we find another pullout at the side of the road this time providing views of a faultline that runs through the park, called the Aspy Fault.  The ridge running from left-to right about 1/4 way up this photo marks the faultline.


Mum snapping away


Some distance later we reach the North-West coast of Cape Breton.



This side of the park had more of a mix of woodland and moorland and exposed rocky outcrops


The Cabot Trail hugs the hillside just above the sea.


Our final sightseeing stop was at La Bloc beach.


We soon reach the french-speaking town of Cheticamp where we pass this large church and were delighted to find they had a Tim Hortons !  It was iced-caps all around.


We continued the short further distance along the West side of the island before heading back across inland towards our rental house.

As we reached the house the sun was setting again as we got more great views from the living room.


The next day we headed to the airport in Sydney to return our rental car and fly back to BC.  It was a really excellent visit to the East Coast and we enjoyed touring it with Mum & Dad.  There are definitely parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island we will want to return to again one day.

Cape Breton–the house

Actually there was nothing particularly nice about the house we rented on Cape Breton, a glorified two-storey shed it was damp and really needed tearing down renovating but on the big plus side the owners allowed us just a two-night stay and it enjoyed a lovely location overlooking St. Anns Bay.

Set on it’s own private 18 acres the house was approached through a small driveway where the house was hidden in amongst the trees out of sight of the road and any neighbours.



The views from the back of the house were spectacular across the bay.


From the house a trail led down through the acreage to the house’s own small private waterfront beach. Views here looking North from the beach in the late afternoon sun on our first evening.


It’s a shame Mojo wasn’t with us on this trip……he would have raced down to this beach, into the water and been very happy !


Views to the West watching the sun go down.



The silhouette of mum snapping away at the views from the beach.


We return back up hill to the house where David has started preparing dinner.  Mum in the rear porch with a glass of wine watches the sunset.


It was certainly a great spot to watch the sunsets over St Anns Bay.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Drive from Charlottetown P.E.I. to Englishtown, N.S.

The next day we were up bright and breezy for our fairly long journey to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

We had arrived on Prince Edward Island over the Confederation Bridge but for our return journey to Nova Scotia we decided to take the ferry, as it gave us a change of scenery and was also located to the East of us which was the general direction we were headed in.

The Woods Island Ferry Terminal is an easy 45 minute drive from Charlottetown.  Again it was a nice sunny day so we sat outside waiting to board.

This was our ferry, named Confederation (it’s a popular name in these parts !) it was built in 1993.



We board the ferry and walk up onto the deck.  Views from here of the Woods Island lighthouse.


Views of the coastline from the ferry as we await departure.



Dad, Mum and I on deck.


Another view of Woods Island



Looking back at P.E.I. as we head out into Northumberland Strait.  It’s hard to imagine on this warm September day that this ferry service only runs May-December because this large body of water ices up during the winter months.


After just over an hours sailing we soon reach the Nova Scotia coastline, views here of Caribou Island lighthouse.


After disembarking we soon reach the small town of Pictou and stop for lunch.




Shortly after lunch we cross the East River into New Glasgow.


After New Glasgow we join the main highway heading East and continue for a couple of hours on wide open roads, some nice big country views and head onto the Cape Breton peninsula.