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Report 1902: A Quick Scamper Round Nova Scotia

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2010

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Page 12 of 16: Cabot Trail from Baddeck to North Cape

photo by Michael

The view from South Harbour to North Mountain

There was a sharp frost overnight which soon melted and it turned into a beautiful day with bright blue skies, lots of sunshine and very warm. We rejoined route 105 to St Ann's and picked up the Cabot Trail there. There were two very long stretches of road works which were very slow as we had to wait for a pilot vehicle.

It was a nice run round the coast with some good views of the shore which was quite marshy. The water was very still so there were good reflections. Although settlements were marked on the map, they were not obvious as we drove along the road.

We did a detour along the gravel Oregon Road through forest with scattered houses to North River Provincial Park with the intention of doing the Little Falls Loop. The track through white aspen and maple was rough and muddy. We could hear the river below us. The path suddenly began to drop steeply and became slippery. As this was the ‘easier’ path, we decided this wasn't one of my better ideas and gave up.

Back on the Cabot Trail, we drove through woodland and dropped down a valley back to the coast. Indian Brook was geared up for the tourists with nearly every building a craft shop (leather, wool, glass, pewter).

The road ran along the hillside and began the steep climb to Cape Smokey. There was no sign of the mist cover today, which gives it its name. We parked in the Provincial Park car park and walked to a viewpoint with views along the coast. There was a network of paths running through the low stunted vegetation.

The road dropped down to Ingonish Harbour and through more or less continuous development to Ingonish. There was a lot of tourist accommodation and whale watching tours but little else. There were two more long sets of road works which blocked access to the Freshwater Lookout Trail.

Beyond Ingonish, we ran out of the settlement and it was a nice run up the coast with lots of small lagoons cut off from the sea by bars. There were viewpoints along the road, some better than others. The rocks along this stretch are pink granite so it is very pretty.

We parked at Green Cove and did the short boardwalk across pink and grey granite and gneiss showing differential erosion with bands of harder pink minerals. The trees were very stunted with leathery leaved bayberry which gave off a lovely smell when crushed.

At Neil’s Harbour we did the scenic detour round by White Point and rejoining the Cabot Trail at South Harbour. This was quiet and unspoilt. It is off the tourist beat, as most people stay on the main road. We enjoyed the drive.

Neil's Harbour was a delightful small settlement of brightly coloured houses around a small harbour with crab and lobster pots, two churches and a small lighthouse. Scenically it felt very similar to Newfoundland and we liked it. This would be a nice place to drop out.

We had lunch at the Chowder House. This is a no frills, basic cafe which served huge, good value helpings. We had a big bowl of sea food chowder and bread for $6.95, eaten looking at the view across the sea.

New Haven was a smaller settlement with little fishing. The road then went through low deciduous and coniferous forest before dropping down to White Point, another delightful settlement with some fishing.

There is little parking, so we parked in front of some old fishing sheds. A rough track takes you across the coastal barrens with good views to the end of the point, where it continues round to the deserted settlement of Burnt Head.

We then drove through Smelt brook to South Harbour. We were back in the trees but there were views to the tip of Cape Breton Island, with the mass of North Mountain with steep slopes and some 'U' shaped valleys. South and North Harbour were cut off by spits and the lagoons were silting up with small islands and marsh vegetation.

We did the short and scenic drive down to Dingwall, a pretty little settlement which is still fishing and has a small, locally run museum. Wooden wharves were built along the side of North Harbour.

By then it was getting late so it was time to head for Cape North. We ate in Angie's Kitchen, which is the only place serving meals. It had a reasonable choice of fish, roast dishes, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas. Meals were freshly cooked. It was fish and chips again ($9.95CAD and $11.95CAD).

We were booked in Oakwood Manor B&B for the night. This is very much at the end of the road but is well signed off the Bay St Lawrence Road.

It is a big 1930s farmhouse with considerable style, with a large wooden barn and smithy near by. Inside was varnished wood paneling of oak and cherry and a beautiful wooden staircase. On the left was a study area with supply of tea and coffee and a computer for guest use. The house was furnished with antique furniture and family heirlooms. To the right was the dining room with big dining table and cast iron stove.

We had a bedroom at the back of the house overlooking the orchard. It was a bit snug and there wasn’t a lot of room with the big antique brass bed stead with a very comfortable mattress. The room had loads of character and we liked it.

Breakfast was ample and good. A well recommended place to stay.

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