Travels

Destination Canada – Day 6 – Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

We didn’t have to travel far to reach the start of the Acadian Trail at the edge of the Cheticamp campsite.

It was an absolute gorgeous day for a hike – sunny and bright with wisps of cool winds blowing through the air. Being early in the season, the deciduous trees were only starting to bud, and the branches were still showing off their full beauty – gnarls, twists and all.

Reaching the top of the 8.5 km loop, we were rewarded with a stunning panoramic vista of Cheticamp – both the two and the river flowing into the ocean.

The back half of the loop parallels the ravines of Robert Brook. The only sounds to be heard were the gentle resulting of the leaves under our feet, the calming flow of water as cascading down the rocks and the occasional chirps of the birds.

Lunch consisted of grilled fresh caught lobster bought from the piers.

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We then set off on the Cape Breton Trail – the main starting point, along with Lunenburg,  this trip was built around. I had gone on an Atlantic coast cruise a few years back and didn’t get the chance to visit neither of the two destinations due to time constraints. When planning the annual Memorial Day week getaway this year, I knew I wanted to finally hit up those two bucket list items. From there, the list of must-see places for the trip proliferated exponentially.

We took the time to stop at as many look-out points as we could.

This included stopping in the middle of the road for a moose (admittedly a tad bit dangerous).

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Located in the heart of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, mid-way along the Cabot Trail, is the Grande Anse Valley, one of the largest old-growth hardwood forests in the Maritimes.

Only a short 15 minute trail is made accessible to the public to view the domineering sugar maple trees, some estimated to be upwards of 350 years old. The trunks are so thick that it takes at least two people standing on either side to wrap their arms around the tree and touch fingers.

Also to be seen is the Lone Shieling, one of the earliest structures in the park constructed in 1942 to provide narrative unto the history of the region and the heritage of the Scottish colonists who eventually settled here after the expulsion of the Acadians. A rectangular structure featuring rubble-stone walls, rough-hewn timbers and a thatched roof, it is closely modeled after the traditional Scottish ‘bothran’ – a seasonal dwelling used by shepherds during the time of year when sheep were moved to graze on the highlands, away from the village.

Leaving the inland forest and gaining the western coast of the island, the scenes turned back to those of sandy shoreline and rugged coasts.

Silently I mused to myself, how would the Scottish highlands compare?

Before we knew it, it was already late afternoon, flowing into the evening hours.

Yet, we were loath to start the drive back, eager to see more.

At Neil’s Harbor, we watched as a brave little trawler battle against the waves to head out to sea.

Piled up onshore were lobster and snowcrab cages. Such simple and rudimentary designs, but so effective at  baiting and trapping the catch.

We eventually set upon Green Cove as our turn-back point.

The protruding headland at Green Cove is representative of much of the coastline on the eastern part of the island. The pink and white granite along with dark grey gneisses were formed as molten liquid cooled. Over time, the rocks cracked under the pressure of a shifting earth. Into the cracks flowed more molten rock, resulting in the crisscross patterns seen today. Gradually, the energy of waves coupled with abrasion slowly chipped away at the headland, breaking off pieces of rock and carrying them to shore to form the characteristic rocky coastalscape.

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By the time we reached back to the western side of the island, the sun had already set over the horizon, leaving in its place the last vestiges of colored ribbon.

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