This report is for our 6 night Advocate Harbour and Cape Breton Island tour, a start to our 30 day journey to Newfoundland. I want to sincerely thank everyone on this forum and the Cape Breton forum for their help and advice in planning. I tend to over think everything!
One note: We bought a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, initially thinking that this was a great deal since I added up all the fees we anticipated. Interestingly, we only had to show it once in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, so we made a good donation to Parks Canada. They obviously do not enforce the use of the pass. In the US National Parks you have to show the pass in every park, every time you enter.
Left the house at 6 AM enroute to Advocate Harbour,NS, a 10 hour ride.
Decided at the last minute to proceed to Houlton/Woodstock border crossing.The highway was closed at exit 276 and we were detoured through small towns for 6.5 miles . Fortunately it was very picturesque farm land with rolling meadows and fields. Blinking red sign says watch for horse and buggies ahead. fortunately we missed the horse and buggies, although this might have been cool to see! It was pretty foggy, thus no mountain views. Oakfield was the town where we rejoined 95 n.Topped the gas tank off in Houlton,me Top off the tank whenever you can. Gas stations are few and far between, as are rest stops! We had a 15 minute wait at the Houlton/Woodstock border.
Note: Now that we are home, in retrospect we would not do the Houlton crossing again..too long and boring. We returned via St Stephens and the new Rte 1 makes the trip much nicer, unless, of course, you get caught in the construction at St John during rush hour like we did!
Arrived at Advocate Harbour @ approx 6:15. We checked into the Wild Caraway, which was our B&B There is a small grocery store (Rite Stop)that had advertised itself as serving different meals but when we arrived there were only prepackaged sandwiches and frozen pizza available. Perhaps because it was late in the evening?. In any case we decided to have dinner at the Wild Caraway and boy was that the right decision. While we waited for our meal we were treated to mother nature at her best with an incredibly fast moving fog bank presenting itself in the harbour. I ordered the Clams Pasta , which presented as a beautiful and colorful dish of mixed greens flat noodles in a wonderful light sauce. There must have been at least 12 shucked whole bellied clams imbedded in this dish, fantastic, and the flavors were wonderful . DH had halibut which was equally as good. Before the meal we were presented with an appetizer of asparagus soup, which was out of this world and a dulse and fennel roll. I am not generally a fennel fan but this was very yummy.
After dinner we walked to see the rapidly receding tide in the Harbour .
Sunday we enjoyed brunch in the Wild Caraway restaurant. Amazing food preparations once again. We went to Cape Chignecto and tried to enter through the Eatonville entrance. We drove through Spicers Cove and made it all the way to the closed gate . We should have gone to this visitor center first as we would have found out about the closed entrance. We found out that from that closed gate, you can walk in at your own risk, about a mile to the hiking trails where you can see the 3 sisters. It is wise to visit the Red Rocks Entrance to Cape Chignecto before venturing to the Eatonville entrance for day use. On a positive note, We got to experience Spicers cove at low tide! We were originally booked for a kayaking trip to see the 3 sisters but, sadly, had to cancel due to a medical issue. Spicers Cove was a real treat as it was low tide and you could walk a long way as long as it was low tide and you are aware of when the tide will roll in. One word—FOG. We hiked the Fundy Ridge trail at Cape Chignecto that lead us to Red Rocks Beach. It was about a 3 hour hike. Nice easy day hike.
We drove to Cape D'or lighthouse to see the Dory Rips, where 3 currents converge, making the area in front of the lighthouse a giant milking bowl on high speed! Amazing, although the fog did impede our views a bit.
After another amazing breakfast, it was foggy and rainy and were headed to Joggins Fossil Cliffs for a prebooked tour and the rain held off! We had a great tour at Joggins. we had a very nice and very knowledgeable fellow named Dana as our guide, who was obviously very passionate about his work as a geologist. We learned a great deal from him and were amazed at the fossils that he showed us. We took the 2 hour tour and we were the only visitors in that tour so we got a very personalized experience. I highly recommend this tour.
Dinner was again at the Wild Caraway.There are very few dining options in Advocate Harbour and this was fine with us. I had the fish and chips followed by creme brulee...and as was everything else, this was delicious! We called it a night after a walk to the Harbour to see the boats risen up to the dock at high tide. Breakfast again was delicious , French toast, strawberries, whipped cream. Did I mention that the coffee is excellent?
So, I could see a big problem here at Wild Caraway. We were just starting our month long tour and the bar has been set very high for awesome culinary experiences.
8:30 on the road headed to Cape Breton! Sad to leave Wild Caraway. Sara and Andrew are the perfect hosts.
We stopped at Five Islands Lighthouse Provincial Park. Very pretty park with the five islands in sight. One of the islands has a big hole in it, but a bit underwhelming. Port-o-potty very clean.
Gassed up in Truro. Picked up groceries at Sobeys in New Glasgow exit 25 at the suggestion of the very friendly young lady at the rest stop Visitor Center for Pictou County. Arrived at entrance to Cape Breton at 2PM.
Stopped at the Bridges of the Past Museum in Mabou. My great great grandmother is from Inverness and I was told that I might be able to talk with someone their about geneology resources. They were very helpful. Also stopped in Inverness to check n the same opportunities. I was given a pamphlet with websites and phone numbers as resources. I wish I had had more time there. Headed to Inverness Beach and spent some time searching for sea glass.
Checked in at Nestlé In B&B in Cheticamp. I have done separate reviews on our B&B experiences in NS. We were given lots of tips of getting to off the beaten bath places to truly experience the beauty of Cape Breton Island
After settling in and eating a self prepared dinner in our suite, we headed to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to get a preview of what we will experience tomorrow . We got in some photography with great evening lighting.
Headed back to Cheticamp and went to the Le Gabriel Lounge to have a beer and listen to live music. They weren't fiddlers like I had hoped but they were pretty good folk type guitar players.Tap water tasted terrible..buy bottled water!
All in all, if I had to do this section over, I would choose to spend the night slightly south of Cheticamp, as the town was a bit to commercial for our liking.
7/3 Left Cheticamp at 8 am, headed for the Skyline trail. Beautiful trail, no wildlife seen although the family ahead of us saw a moose cross the trail in front of them. Started the trail at 9AM and was off by 12:30. Viewpoints are beautiful but there are drop offs from the boardwalk. With my height issues, I would have felt safer if they had built a handrail on one side, so I only went down 3 platforms out of 6. But that's ok, because the views were spectacular! Headed then for Pleasant Bay, where we got some nice photo ops, Bay St Lawrence and ventured all the way to Meat Cove, which wasn't easy on the car, with the ups and downs and many switchbacks! Scenery was beautiful but Meat Cove was underwhelming.
Stopped at Cabots Landing, which we almost missed due to poor signage. Picnic tables, outhouse (no Purell supplied here. )
Ventured our way to Dingwall and checked into the Markland Resort.The Markland restaurant is very nice but only offers 4 entrees, all over $20 each
We had dinner at Neil's Harbour at the Chowder House, which was a 20 minute drive south of Dingwall..lobster dinner with crab & corn chowder. Delicious and only 15.99.
I loved the Markland. The view was great, with access to the gorgeous beach. The outside of the buildings are a bit worn but our log room #15, was immaculate and had a very comfy king bed. This was one of the most comfy beds on our entire 30 day trip. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
As far as hiking trails, we were only able to get 3 trails in..Skyline, Whites Point Trail and Middle Head. We LOVED Whites Point Trail. The views, landscape and coastline are stunning. The solemnity of the sailors gravesite was what made this a very peaceful place. It is an easy trail and only took about an hour and a half. Watch those cliffs, though! You can access the trailhead just beyong the Two Tittles B&B. There is a very small parking area..3 cars at the most.
The next trail that was on our list was Middle Head in Ingonish. You access this trailhead just beyond the Keltic Lodge. I have to say that we were disappointed in this trail. It was mostly wooded and in the few lookouts, the trees were over grown and you really couldn’t see much until you got to the far end.
Our next stop was North Sydney where we stayed at Chambers B&B. We went to the park next to the Marine Atlantic ferry and had a picnic supper. We stayed in North Sydney to get the ferry to Newfoundland the next day. As luck would have it, Thursday nights at Rollies Wharf, about 8:30, local people who like to play music, come into Rollies. Fiddlers, harmonica, piano and one accordion…great music to sit and sip a cold one!
The next day we were on the ferry as scheduled at noon. We had reserved a day cabin and we were glad we did. Even though it was just a 6 hour ride. The day cabin gave us a place to rest and relax in peace and quiet, read, access the ships free Wi-Fi or shower if we wanted to. It was worth the extra $59.
My next report will be on the Newfoundland-Labrador Forum.