Cape Breton

As the first weekend in August is a long weekend in this part of the world I decided to take the Friday off as well and head up to Cape Breton for a few days. Thursday evening saw me leaving to start the drive up there only to return about 45 minutes later when I realised I’d left both my head torches/lamps at home. Whoops. After that abortive start I arrived at my campsite for the night. This was a little south if the main area I was heading for but was a nice way to break up the drive – it was already midnight when I arrived.

Next day saw me first heading to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site – bit of a mouthful that. I hadn’t realised that he had been involved with so much more than the telephone, getting involved with airplanes and hydrofoils amongst other things. Glad I went to take a look and it will give us a wet weather option when my parents visit in a couple of weeks. The views from the site were quite scenic as well and I took various photos, both inside and out.

Next up was a ten mile round trip hike to the highest waterfall in Nova Scotia. The signs in the car park / parking lot said the trail was closed for maintenance and that you used it at your own risk. I took this to mean that I could use it and it probably wasn’t in too bad a state. Turns out that it was mostly in a pretty good state and I’ve certainly hiked much worse trails recently. That’s not to say it was easy, it was still a pretty hard trail, but neither did it warrant being closed in my opinion. The waterfall at the end was pretty impressive and I took a lot of photos which gave me more chance to play with the neutral density filter I got for my birthday. I do like how it allows long exposure times and so cool water affects.

I was rather tired by the time I returned to the car but I still had some driving to do to get to my campsite for the rest of the weekend. The drive was certainly pretty scenic and I stopped several times to take yet more photos. When I arrived at the campsite I discovered that the people next door to me had taken over some of my site as they, apparently, hadn’t realised there were two sites there and thought there was only one. Still it was late and there was just about another space for me to squeeze in so I made the most of it. They left the next day anyway.

Saturday first saw me heading to Cape Smokey Provincial Park. I’d stopped here briefly the night before but the plan for that day was to do a seven mile round trip that visited several view points. The trail was definitely quite overgrown in places and most of the viewpoints were very similar to what you could see without hiking anywhere. The last viewpoint, however, was different as you’d just rounded a headline and got a quite different view. May just have made the hike worthwhile. You won’t be surprised to hear that there are more photos.

After grabbing some extra lunch I headed to Middle Head to do a much shorter hike. By the time I finished it two days of hiking had caught up with me and I was really pleased to get back to the car. The hike was nothing spectacular although there were some nice views of the shoreline. Deciding I was done hiking for the day I drove up to Mary Ann Falls so you get to see more photos of waterfalls. The falls had swimmers all over them – including a few who were jumping in and just make it into the photos – but they were still nice to see. I then drove up the coast a bit, stopping every now and again for more photos before heading back to the campsite for an enjoyable evening, drinking beer, reading and listening to the people on the next site having sex. OK, the last part was less enjoyable!

As I was still feeling rather tired on Sunday morning I decided to do less hiking and instead drive over to the other side of the park stopping of on the way at anything that seemed cool and to do some shorter hikes. I started by doing a very short hike at White Point which was quite different to a lot of the coastline I’d hiked so far as it was much more barren and so looked quite different as you may be able to see in the photos. I next discovered a beach hidden down a gravel road with a bit of a walk at the end. I found it really quite scenic and there are yet more photos.

I next did a bit of a driving tour heading north to Meat Cove before heading back to the Cabot Trail and heading to the western bit of the national park. All the photos I took that day while driving a round are lumped into one folder here. I also stopped off at a couple of water falls. The first was pretty much roadside and rather pathetic as you can probably see from the photos. I could definitely see how they would be impressive with more water flowing over them but with the trickle that was they weren’t really rather visiting. The next waterfall I stopped at required a bit more of a hike and was much nicer in my opinion. I just about managed to take enough photos before my poor planning caught up with me and all my batteries were dead. Thankfully I’d left one charging in the pavilion at the start of the hike and that was enough to last me the weekend.

After some more driving around I decided to hike the Skyline. This is quite a touristy hike with a very good path and a broadwalk at the end to protect the vegetation. Still was definitely worth doing as I saw a couple of moose and the views at the end were definitely pretty good and hopefully my photos do it some justice. I was pretty damned tired by the time I finished and ending up getting a headache from not eating enough. I was rather worried about the hour and a half drive back to my campsite but thankfully the headache faded after I’d got some food and drink in the nearby town and took some painkillers. Really should know by now that I need to be careful about stuff like that.

Next day saw me heading to Louisburg the site of a fortress the French had built to protect their north American colonies, although that didn’t work so well in the end as they lost the site, twice, to the British. The second time the Brits destroyed everything there to stop the French getting it back in any peace treaty like they had the first time. A large amount of the town was recreated in the seventies as a means of creating employment so there’s quite a lot to see. The drive to get there took rather longer than expected although it did involved some nice views and a ferry ride. Once again photos while driving are lumped together.

After I eventually arrived at the place I was both a little bit impressed and disappointed. Impressed by the buildings etc, disappointed about how much it relied on living history and how little there was to read about it’s history – at least I couldn’t find it. The fact that they had female soldiers also annoyed me somewhat as it ruined their attempt to be historically accurate. Still I had an enjoyable few hours looking around. I think I enjoyed the bit where I got away from the crowds by walking a short trail in the non re-constructed part where there were information boards telling you what used to be there. Once more there are photos.

After visiting the main site I drove into the site a bit more to a beach before heading to the other side of town to a lighthouse which was also were the British built a battery to attack the French. I also did a short hike at the lighthouse which was rather enjoyable and where I found some cool rocks piled together in an artistic manner which was cool. Photos are included with the fort photos as it’s all related. By the time I’d done the short hike it was definitely time to head back to Woilfville if I wanted to arrive at anything like a reasonable time.

On the drive back however I went a slightly scenic route and stopped off briefly in Iona. Apart form some nice views the cool thing was a really weird rock formation in a bay. It reminded me very much of the islands often associated with pirates in cartoons and the like. Photos are here. After another short ferry ride and a stop of at he Provincial Park I stayed at the first night for a shower I got back to Wolfville about 1am.

All in all it was a very enjoyable weekend and I’m looking forward to taking my parents up there in a few weeks. Hopefully it won’t be quite so hazy as when I was there as this meant the views weren’t as good as they could be and made photography hard – getting the exposure right was hard for both the camera and me. You may also notice some of the photos have marks on them. obviously have a little bit of dust in my body and although I though I got it out I must have just moved it around as it often returned. Time to either clean it properly or got it done professionally I feel.

Wow, that’s a long post for a five day period. Still nothing too exciting planned to my parents visit at the end of the month so the next post probably won’t be so long.

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