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Report 1901: A Month on the Rock
By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010
Page 28 of 31: Irish Loop
Fish drying at St Shott’s
The rain had cleared by the next morning and the sun was shining. The wind was beginning to drop although there was still a strong swell in the bay. We decided to do the eastern half of the Irish Loop, a wise choice as it turned out. Apart from a few trees down there was little obvious damage after Igor. The Witless Bay Line Road was still firmly closed with large yellow warning signs.
We drove through Witless Bay, a large sprawling settlement around the bay very much into whale watching, iceberg and puffin trips. It was a pleasant run south through wooded hills with ups and downs and nice views. There were a lot of lakes and the streams were well up. Water was spilling over the dam of the reservoir just north of Cape Broyle into the valley below.
We did a detour down to Baudine East, a small cove surrounded by dark black cliffs with a few houses and pier for whale watching trips. Display boards along the pier had been blown down and although the whale watching boat had been pulled well up the beach the cabin had been destroyed by Igor.
The road did a big loop round La Manche Provincial Park. We had originally intended to stop here and walk but as the road into the park was gravel through trees so decided to give it a miss. We saw a moose galloping towards us in front of a pick-up but it disappeared into the woods when it saw us approaching. They are big animals and if you hit one they can do a lot of damage to the car.
It was a pleasant run south with side roads down to settlements on the coast. There was little sign of active fishing and no wharves or stages, although Fermeuse is still fishing and had its boats drawn up well up out of water.
After Renews trees started to get smaller and sparser. The barrens began after Cappahayden, with trees only found in lower lying areas where soil could collect. From Cappahayden the road cut inland with small lakes. We had lost the settlement but there were some small wooden fishing shacks along the road and a few parked cars belonging to fishermen.
Further south the ground became a lot wetter with bog vegetation and an isolated ridge of hills inland. In Biscay Bay at the head of the cove there was a good sea running and washing up onto the beach. Trepassy was another long straggling settlement which stretched as far as Lower Cove and along the peninsula with no obvious services. We lost the settlement again after Daniel’s Point. The coastal barrens were completely flat and stretched as far as the eye could see. We could see the road snaking across the landscape. There was no habitation, not even fishing cabins.
There was no sign of caribou near the Lookout at the junction of the St Shott’s road, which is one of the best places to see them, apparently.
St. Shott's is at the end of a long side road across the flat barrens. It was one of the few places that successfully resisted being resettled in the 1960s. The settlement is scattered across the plateau above the fishing harbour. Several houses had the remains of stone and wooden fences around long disused vegetable plots, although one house was still growing crops. An old shed at the top of the hill had collapsed after Igor and a trailer had been blown over.
There was a strong wind blowing with waves ‘boshing’ against the shore. There was a deep ravine with a small stream running down to a beach with a big shingle bar across most of it. A dirt road disappeared across a bridge into the middle distance.
There is a very well sheltered new harbour still with some crab and lobster fishing. On the side of the harbour was a long boat shed containing several old boats. Working boats had been pulled well up the slipway.
We stopped off in Portugal Cove on the way back and had a quick look in the Visitor Centre, who were delighted to see visitors. We didn’t watch the video. There was an interesting exhibit about the fossils of Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve which can only be seen by joining a guided tour from the centre.
By now it was time to drive back to Bay Bulls. It was too late to do any of side turnings which was a pity as some of them looked as if they would have been worth exploring. The sun was out and it was a beautiful evening.
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