When Mark and I planned to return to Nova Scotia so soon after our last trip, we wanted to do something different and take a trip outside Halifax. While we did take a day trip last time up to Kentville, stopping in various towns along the way, this time we were thinking of an extended trip that would require a couple nights. I had never been to Cape Breton Island before and so we decided to drive the Cabot Trail and booked accommodation for two nights in Margaree Forks and Ingonish Beach, on the west and east sides, respectively, of the island’s upper peninsula. I am an islands person so I delighted in the idea of visiting this place rich in Gaelic culture and music. The scenery would be stunning, however we knew that the trees were still a few weeks away from their dazzling red-orange-yellow kaleidoscopic leaf show. On the way we stopped in Truro and visited the library, now housed in the old town hall building, and went to the local farmers market.
I could see Long Pond on Cape Breton as we drove across the western side of the Strait of Canso. I grew excited as we approached and then crossed the Canso Causeway. I’d finally made it to Cape Breton Island! We drove along the Ceilidh Trail, hugging the west coast. The roads were winding and the landscape was covered in valleys of trees. Frequent lookout points gave us the opportunity to take photos:
We drove west to Capstick until the paved road ended. It was another 8 km on a dirt road to Meat Cove. By then it had started to rain and Mark didn’t feel confident about driving there and back, so we retraced our steps and headed to Neil’s Harbour.
Some of the roads were very steep, especially at Cape Smokey, and with the abrupt turns drivers had to go slow. We were led downhill by a leader car and were at the end of an entourage. It felt a bit like the bus ride I had in the Swiss canton of Ticino. We drove down winding roads and stopped at a ridiculously overpriced chocolate shop in Indian Brook called Cabotto Chocolates. The store owner was an aggressive seller full of counterfeit enthusiasm. I was not interested and took a look around and gasped at the price of $7.95 for a bread-size slice of fruitcake. I headed right for the door and when the pressure selling was applied to Mark (since I had by then disappeared) I was ready to call on him to up and leave but he handled himself and tactfully excised his way outta there. We then headed for the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s. It took a while to get there; road signs announcing one’s arrival in St. Ann’s didn’t necessarily mean that the college would be around the next bend. We walked around the campus buildings and peered inside the gift shop. I had known in advance that the college was not open, however a trip to the gift shop would have been nice. We had our lunch in Baddeck. Always during our drives Mark would pull into a town or village and we would look at the homes and main streets. I would love to go back to Cape Breton and see more of the island, including the eastern part.