The Cabot Trail is one of the world's most scenic highways. It was completed in 1932, and is considered an engineering marvel, 185 miles of rolling highway, dipping up and down, skimming over the heights of the famous Cape Breton Highlands National Park. But first, as we left Port Hawkesbury, we picked up the Ceilidh (kay-lee) Trail and followed the coastline up to Margaree Harbor, where the road turned into the Cabot Trail.
The Celtic culture is very strong in Cape Breton, where Gaelic is still taught in the schools. A "ceileidh" is a traditional Gaelic social gathering which usually involves music and dancing. The road takes you through several small towns along the way, and several ceileidhs were advertised at various public buildings for different nights of the week. It would have been interesting to go see one, but there wasn't one in the area we ended up staying.
We also had downloaded several geocaches located on the island...always fun to grab a new state or province "souvenir"...your first find in a state or province loads a "souvenir tag" in the program. It's fun to collect new souvenirs.
Our first cache in Cape Breton was here at Mabou Harbour. The black pots in the harbour are black mussel sets....it's almost like lobster pots, except no traps. There's ropes hanging down from the buoy, and the mussels attach themselves to the rope. Harvesting is a simple matter of pulling up the rope and extracting the mussels off of it.
Aren't old barns just so picturesque?
There's a day use beach at the entrance to Port Hood, so we stopped for a walk down the boardwalk to the beach.
Down the boardwalk to the beach
Next stop was the beach in Inverness
Piping plovers ( an endangered species) running through the surf. We have them back on Long Island, where we used to live. They are protected there, but are not popular as many prime sections of beach are cordoned off in the height of the summer while they are nesting. A few years ago our Fourth of July fireworks exhibits had to be moved to Labor Day weekend as a nesting couple had set up home within a few feet of the set-up zone. They have since come back every year, so now there is Labor day fireworks!
More bird life along the route...stunning.
I really liked the town entrance signs.
A fabulous view at the first overlook. There are over twenty overlooks along the highway, all with spectacular views. The Cabot Trail runs approximately 300 kilometers, linking previously isolated fishing villages. It was completed in 1932.
We stopped and had lunch in the beautiful village of Cheticamp, and I browsed the crafts at the Coopertive Artisanale. Cheticamp is the rug hooking capital of the world, and I enjoyed looking at the (expensive) pieces in the shop. I see you can order a kit online to try your hand at it...maybe?
Then it was on the the Cape Breton Highlands National Park Visitors Center to purchase our entrance pass and find a map of the park. I couldn't believe how fast the day was slipping by and I wasn't even half-way to my destination stop for the night!
As part of the attraction of the drive is the highway itself, there will be a few pictures through the windshield.
This was one of the scenic overlooks. We pulled in and I thought, oh there's not much here to take a picture of, it goes around a curve...then I looked back! I do hate it when the sun is at the COMPLETELY wrong angle for photos, but I did the best I could to block the glare.
Pillar Rock on a windy windy day
Calm waters in the sheltered cove...but there are some ripples!
A beautiful picnic area at Le Bloc...not today though, your food would blow away!
The highway dipsy-doodles along the coastline
We stopped at a short hiking area called The Bog. It has a boardwalk all through the boggy area with interpretive signs talking about the habitat and it's inhabitants. What a great place for moose to hang out wouldn't you think?? We had our eyes peeled...
wonderful heath area for the to roam...we did see the sleeping indentations they had made, although Al says the rangers probably come out and make them just so us tourists can get excited :-).
A last view, without moose, as we headed back to the truck...but wait!!!
a quarter mile down the road, around a curve, there she is! Again, taking pictures right into the sun, but I cleaned it up as best as I could.
We sat for quite awhile watching her. She was quite unconcerned about us being there. We finally bid "adieu" to her and carried on down the road.
The topography of Cape Breton Island's coastline reminded us strongly of the beauty of Hawaii.This is Fishing Cove, a former isolated fishing village. It has been abandoned, but one is able to hike down to the coast and tent camp on the shores...all primitive, of course.
The highway curves around the tip of the north end of the island, across the highland plateau, and heads east to the Atlantic Ocean side of the island.
We followed a rough gravel road about 4 kilometers to beautiful Beulach Ban Waterfalls.
As the sun slowly dropped in the west, we made it to the east coast, and here the coastline changed radically to the granite rocks just like the Maine coast here in Acadia.
As we made our way to our cabin for the night in Ingonish, a view of the Middlehead Peninsula with Cape Smokey in the background greeted us. Tomorrow's plans include a hike to the point of Middlehead, before continuing down to the town of Baddeck. And that will be the story for the next installment, as this has already gotten pretty long :-).