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Up Hills and down Dales

Baddeck, Canada

We had three other couples around the table for breakfast this morning. All in 50's or older; a woman from Toronto – a lot have been, so it must be empty – a couple from Saskatoon, a couple from Niagara on the lake (presumably escaping tourists) and a bloke from Denmark who was in some way that we were unable to grasp, attached to the woman from Toronto. A pretty affable lot who came up with the original idea that we were escaping the congestion caused by the olympics. No one has yet worked out that in the 3 weeks we have been here, some one else may have suggested that before but we tried to answer it as though it was the first time!

A grey, dank start to the day but still quite warm, we settled up with Gill who had moved here from California with her two donkeys, after falling in love with it while on holiday. On the road back to Mabou and then North towards the start of the Cabot Trail at Chéticamp. It soon started raining, not heavily just a steady drizzle which limited the visibility somewhat. We reached the coast at Inverness and then ran just inland until we reached the coast again at Chimney Corner. There were glimpses of a lovely coastline and a road stretching out ahead largely deserted thankfully, probably due to the weather. The rain had by now largely disappeared and the sun was making a watery appearance but just didn't manage to quite burn off the mist.

Just before Chéticamp, we stopped at Flora's gift shop – a real Aladdin's cave of a place where Sue watched someone hooking a mat. She must have enjoyed the work – she said they took her about 4 hours each and we noted that they sold for $10. Chéticamp itself is an interesting mix of new tourism based building and old fishing based building. Apparently, still a bastion of Acadian culture which is not surprising, given that there was no road link until 1949.

Back on the road again we stopped briefly at the information centre waiting interminably behind an indecisive couple booking accommodation with a park ranger before baling out on discovery that we could buy our park permits from a roadside booth just up the road.

From Chéticamp, the road dives inland briefly to cross the river before hugging the coast giving some spectacular sights. We had had some conflicting advice about whether to drive the route clockwise or anti-clockwise. Most of the pull-offs (and they are plentiful) are on the seaward side of the road, so in busy times it could be a problem accessing them but today this was not a problem with our clockwise transit.

Much of the route is carved through pine forest, sometimes broken with interesting rock formations. On the higher parts you can see over an unbroken wilderness of trees and on the parts running along the coast itself, you get to see bays and inlets, coves and beaches hills and cliffs in an undulating and continuous procession of pristine wilderness. The road misses out the apex of the island and runs pretty well straight across to the opposite coast. Here we met a low cloud base at times on the undulating route through the forests, limiting visibility at to 10's of yards. From this point on we had drizzle for the rest of the route. On hitting the east side of the island, we turned north and drove up a gravel track to a fishing village neatly tucked away in a natural harbour with a tiny entrance from the sea. I would not like to try taking a boat through that when there is a heavy swell!
About half-way back down the track, we stopped off at a place where Cabot is purported to have made his first landfall and established Britain's claim to the Americas. There is a monument to him and his son Sebastian, apparently born in Bristol.

The weather didn't allow much viewing of the scenery on the eastern coast, although we did get some marvellous sights. At one of these a young ranger was braving the elements in her weatherproofs and explaining to passers by about the creatures to be seen near there. Couldn't help but think that Parks Canada might have come up with a gazebo or something as a little shelter for her. We had a nice chat with her about natural history as well as discovering that she would like to visit UK to see lots of castles.

Finally in to Baddeck at around 5 feeling ravenous not having stopped for lunch. We found a nice looking restaurant by the waterfront. The table we were first directed to had an air conditioning fan blasting away at foot level, so we moved further away from the window. For the first time since leaving the UK we felt cold so put on our fleeces and I tucked in to a nice French onion soup, followed by chicken in cajun sauce; Sue had garlic bread followed by chicken in a mango sauce. They were nice meals and just what the doctor ordered. I washed mine down with a nice Rickards Red while Sue thanked Dave for introducing her to Corona.

Our stop for the night was at the Auld Farm Inn, run by a Scottish husband and wife team who bought it in 2009. A lovely place but our room a bit on the small side.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on August 13, 2012 from Baddeck, Canada
from the travel blog: Go West then go East
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