Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Our Maritimes Road Trip - The Cabot Trail Part 1

After such a relaxed evening in our little cottage, we had a relaxed start to the morning, with a bacon and egg home cooked breakfast, hubby taking the girls down to the shore line and a complete repacking of the car. So it was around 10 am that we hit the road. 

Our first stop today was at the Visitor Information centre at the beginning of the Cabot Trail just north of Cheticamp. Armed with a map complete with suggestions for the best child friendly walking spots we headed off. 

Our first stop was at  Le Buttereau, a 30 min walking loop along one of the roads that linked the inhabitants of Le Buttereau with Cheticamp. We enjoyed (or at least 3 of us did) a short wander up the hill to a beautiful vista down along the coast back towards Cheticamp. We spotted squirrels, chipmunks and a couple of garter snakes. The Youngest decided that as this was the first walk of the day it was probably time to announce that her legs were already tired and she would require carrying for the remainder of the day. 

Hopping back in the car, and the drive up the coast provided us with stunning views, that our photos just don't do enough justice to. It was an incredibly beautiful drive all the way along, including once we headed inland. Sadly, despite being told that along this stretch was a high chance of seeing moose, they avoided us and none were to be seen. We would also have loved to have stopped and done the skyline trail, but with two small children, the 7km loop was beyond us. 

Our second walking stop for the day was at a place called 'The French Mountain Bog', 410m above sea level, a typical highland wetland. This walk was on a boardwalk that lasted roughly 15 mins. Which was a lovely stroll for Hubby and The Eldest, and an exercise for me in how not to let The Youngest find as many ways as possible to end up in the water lodged marshlands. 'I promise I won't fall in' she repeated the entire way around, whilst trying to balance on the boardwalk edges with all the finesse of an amateur gymnast. And again, sadly, no moose. 

As we continued driving, we had stunning views across the mountains, and glimpses of the ocean as we descended into Pleasant bay. 

Our next stop was at Lone Shieling, an area with 350 year old maple trees, the largest old hardwood forest in the maritimes. There is also an old shepherd's hut here that was built to commemorate the Scottish heritage of Pleasant Bay. We had a great time wandering along the tracks, exploring the hut, the streams and practising how to 'be large' in the event that we came across some coyotes. 

The fall colours continued to impress us, every mountain and valley full of glorious hues of red, orange and yellow, as we headed towards Beulach Ban Waterfall, where the girls had their first up close encounter with a waterfall. 

Halfway through the Cabot Trail! 
More to come in part 2 
(off to bed - everyone else is asleep)
Jen x

Monday, 6 October 2014

Our Maritimes Road Trip - Prince Edward Island to Cape Breton Island

Today was an early start.  The girls reluctantly said goodbye to the 'best hotel room ever' (christened as such because of the little cupboard that doubled as a cubby house) and we drove for an hour down to Wood Island to catch the 9:30am ferry across to Pictou, Nova Scotia.

The ferry saved us a couple of hundred kms and had us well on our way towards todays destination - Cheticamp on the West side of Cape Breton Island. We had a brief stop in Antigonish to stock up on dinner and breakfast supplies, and then drove straight through to our first stop on Cape Breton at Mabou. Once again, we were greeted with the beautiful fall colours that had not been so evident on PEI. It was another stunning drive, even if in somewhat dismal, weather. 

To get to Mabou, we travelled along the 'Ceilidh Trail' which runs from causeway across to Cape Breton and up the South West corner of the Island. We stopped at Mabou and enjoyed the luncheon fare of the Red Shoe Pub. By the time we finished lunch, the sun had come out, and we saw blue sky for the first time in days. We arrived at Cheticamp somewhere around mid afternoon. 

I have to admit, we were taken aback (not in a good way) with the look of our accommodations, and after checking in at the office that was in no way tidy or clean, I was convinced that we were going to have to go in search of somewhere else to stay. However, it turned out that the cottage that we (ok, actually I had booked), while looking pretty dismal on the outside, was actually very pleasant and functional and suitable for our needs for one evening. We had no one around us, the girls could make as much noise as they wanted, it was clean (!), tidy (!) and quite comfortable. And although the wind was blowing a gale and had a real chilling bite to it, the view was stunning and we saw one of the more glorious sunsets we had seen in a while. 

The girls had their own room, an early night and Hubby and I actually watched a whole movie (King Kong) for the first time in forever, without falling asleep, and without interruption. It was a great evening.