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Report 1901: A Month on the Rock

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010

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Page 7 of 31: Labrador - LíAnse au Claire, West St Modeste and Pinware River

photo by Michael

Pinware river

We spent four days in Labrador. This page covers the area from L'Anse au Loup to the Pinware River.

It was a beautiful morning with streaks of pink in the dawn sky. The ticket office for the ferry opened at 6am for the 8am sailing. It was a large boat with lounge and bar, and a restaurant serving basic cafe food at a reasonable price. There was limited seating outside so we found a lifebuoy box at the stern and watched the coast of Newfoundland as it got smaller. We could see the length of the Northern Peninsula which was very flat.

As we approached the Labrador coast, we could see a series of small settlements with white houses backed by rocky hills with lots of bare rock. The sun was shining when we docked at Blanc Sablon but there were dark clouds rolling up from Quebec. The first lorry off the boat got stuck as it tried to drive up the ramp and we had to wait 20 minutes until it was sorted out and could creak its way off the boat.

Blanc Sablon is in Quebec - and all the signs were in French.

We were booked into Seaview Cabins in Forteau, as this was reasonably central for all we wanted to do. The owners also run the shop and restaurant in Forteau.

There are two blocks of cabins. Numbers one through four are older. Talking to people in them it sounds as if they are smaller and not as nice. Cabins 5 and 7 are basement cabins with restricted views from the windows. For sea views you need to be in cabin 8. We were in cabin 7 so had poor views from the windows. It was large and comfortable with very effective heating. There was an open plan kitchen and living area with bathroom off and bedroom beyond.

Our first stop was the Gateway to Labrador Centre in a beautifully restored old church in LíAnse au Claire, which has an interesting exhibition. There is an information board in the car park about the Jersey Rooms Trail which is a short drive from the Centre. This is a well made path with stone edges and chippings across the storm beach and round the bay to the remains of an 18thC fishing village settled by people from Jersey in the Channel Islands. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine and we saw Minke whales in the bay. We could see the stone foundations of one of the houses from the early settlers and also the remains of the original paths round the settlement. This was a good walk and worth doing.

Our intention in arriving in Labrador was to drive to LíAnse au Loup to do the Battery Trail. By now the dark clouds from the south were beginning to catch us up so we decided to keep on driving and head for Pinware Provincial Park.

Here the sun was shining and the skies were blue. We parked in the day area and dropped down to the beach along the Pinware River. The sand was deep orange in colour. The vegetation on the banks was very lush with lots of vetch. Marram grass was stabilising the sand which was beginning to blow in places where the vegetation cover was broken. There were good views to the north of rugged hills with trees on the lower flanks and lots of bare rock. The Pinware river was big and wide. We walked along the beach, round the headland and back to the car. It was lovely in the sunshine with a pleasant breeze to keep us cool.

We then followed the trail through scrubby forest with lots of fungi which took us to the campsite, then through more forest to a flat area with bilberry, dwarf conifers, crowberry and sphagnum moss. Fortunately this was dry. We followed a track up the side of a small rocky outcrop with views across the Pinware River to Pinware. Here we were in arctic alpine vegetation with lichen, bakeapple (cloudberry) and bare rock. We decided I better sit on a rock at the top of the trail while Michael went to explore as we had visions of not being able to find the track down again. We did get lost going back across the flat area as we couldnít see the line of the path. We also managed to miss the trail from the camp site back through the trees to the day area, so ended up following the road.

The cloud had now rolled back and it was a beautiful afternoon. We drove back to West St. Modeste and parked behind the Town Offices to do the newly constructed boardwalk and stairs to the top of the hill behind West St Modeste. This climbed about 400 feet with superb views across to Pinware, along the coast, West St Modeste and inland over the mountainous interior. It was tundra type vegetation with white lichen which was dry and crunchy underfoot, bilberry, crowberry, cranberry, bakeapples and even a few fungi. We sat at the observation station to enjoy the views. It is possible to walk along the ridge for long distances. This was an excellent and very well worthwhile walk.

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