Waking up the morning after getting dropped off back in North Sydney from the ferry from Newfoundland we felt that summer had finally arrived. No longer was it in the mid 30’s at night and freezing in the morning but warm and sunny once again. The schedule for the first day was to reach Cape Breton National Park on the tip of the western part of Cape Breton Island with a trip first to the Alexander Graham Bell museum located a short drive away in Baddeck, NS. It was a beautiful drive to Baddeck. In order to get to the town we had to drive over the north end of Canada’s largest inland lake, “Bras d’Or Lake”. The lake cuts the island in two creating not only in geography a two-sided island but also cultural. The eastern side of the island being predominately French while the western side is Scottish/Gaelic. Arriving at the museum Julie and I talked about what we knew about Alexander Graham Bell. This only consisted to us of the invention of the telephone. As all the parks were free this year in Canada we were able to just walk right on in and start touring the museum. While we were right that Alexander was the first inventor of the telephone he invented a number of other things. His team built the first powered airplane in Canada, created a hydrofoil, which for a time set the marine speed record. He was also a pioneer in deaf education creating a system, which allowed the deaf to speak. We also learned that while he was born in Scotland and moved to the Greater Toronto Area at an early age the museum was in northern Cape Breton as that is where the majority of his aviation and marine experiments took place. All in all it was a great stop.
From Baddeck we headed up the island to our next stop for the night, Ingonish Beach in Cape Breton National Park. So far on our drive we had not encountered much of steep and curvy hills but this was different. As we neared the park the road started to go almost vertical as we entered the Cape Breton Highlands. We felt a little bad as there were a group of Mustangs behind us and the fastest we could go at times was near 25mph but there was nothing we could do. Finally though we entered the park, stopped at the info center to gather park info and book a camp site. From our campsite it was a short walk to the actual beach and boy was it a surprise for us. To get to the actual sand beach you had to walk over a small hill of perfectly round ocean sanded small boulders then down to the white sands and crystal clear ocean water. On either side of the long beach stood cliffs with birch and pine trees towering over. It felt again like nature could not have created something so beautiful but yet here it was for everyone who came here to enjoy. After walking down the beach for a bit we hiked over to the main hotel in that part of the park, the Keltic Lodge. The Keltic Lodge was on a small peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean and it was breathtaking. We got a beer and sat out on the porch taking in the view of the bay in front of us with the lobstermen taking in their catch. It was a great way to end the day.
The next day we woke up excited to explore the rest of the park. As the road for the park follows a half circle it was easy to stay on course. Slowly making our way around we followed the ocean seeing a marine paradise. From boats catching lobster, snow crab as well as other fish to rock and white sand beaches to towering pine trees with every turn we took we had another beautiful sight. For lunch we stopped at Neil’s Harbor on the extreme northeast end of the park having lunch at a seafood shack. Julie had a meal of delicious scallops while I feasted on snow crab. The restaurant “or a shack as they called it” was located almost at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. It was pretty neat looking over the cliff seeing just how high up we were. After stuffing our bellies we drove to the western side of the park. While the eastern side of the park was mountainous the western side of the park took it to an entirely new level. The ocean and mountain views from this side of the park were truly spectacular. We stopped at each lookout point taking in the views and reading the information boards that the park service had provided about the mountains as well as which whales that you would be able to see if they were present. Coming down the mountain we stopped and camped in the French Acadian town of Cheticamp.
The next day we woke up and headed to our destination for the day the Glenora Distillery. This distillery is famous with the Scotch-drinking crowd for being the only single malt whisky distillery in North America. It’s located in the very Scottish south west corner of the island just south of the town of Inverness. The property is beautiful with a small brook water source running through the property. We signed up for a tour and proceeded to learn why this distillery was so special (it’s the water). After purchasing a bottle and having lunch in Bubbles on the property we headed on. We headed down and eventually off Cape Breton Island after a lengthy wait at the bridge to get off the island due to construction and headed northeast following the northern side of the province. We eventually made it to New Glasgow for the night camping at a spot, which overlooked Pictou Harbour. It was a beautiful ending for the day.
The next day, our last in Nova Scotia was again beautiful. We drove west around route 6, which overlooks farms, the Northcumberland Straight to the north and Prince Edward Island beyond that. It was the perfect sunny weather drive. We stopped that morning at Tatamagouche, NS. It was the perfect little town for a morning espresso as well as a beer at their local brewery. If you are ever in Tatamagouche please stop at the Tatamagouche Brewery. It’s in a beautiful setting and the beers are not too bad either. From here we really wanted to push ourselves, as our destination for the day was Prince Edward Island. To get there we said goodbye to Nova Scotia and drove back into New Brunswick to route 16. From there it was about an hour drive until we approached the Confederation Bridge which spans the length of 8 miles from Bayfield, NB to Port Borden, PEI. As we approached the island we could see the red sand cliffs and welcome center. It was quite the sight to see.
Next up…..We explore the “Gentle Island”, Prince Edward Island.