On our recent trip to Nova Scotia, we found the entire province one of incredible beauty, whether it's the farmland of the Annapolis Valley and the remarkable Bay of Fundy, the surfing beaches of the Eastern Shore and Halifax, or the charming South Shore and its spectacular coastline, but ... one of the most breathtakingly scenic is the island of Cape Breton and its Cabot Trail.
We accessed the trail from the Water's Edge Inn in Baddeck, a small village at the base of the trail. The town is right on a harbor, is central to everything on the island, and has lots of restaurants, shops and even the Alexander Graham Bell Museum (fascinating). On our first day on Cape Breton, we decided to "do the trail". We'd been told that the trail is 185 miles long and would take us 5 hours to get around, if we didn't stop. Organizing our photography gear took longer than expected so we didn't get underway until nearly 11:00 a.m. and it was only minutes after getting on the trail that we stopped for one of what seemed like hundreds of photo ops.
We'd come north in pursuit of fall color and we found the trail to be in peak color. The vistas of colorful virgin forest running toward the blue ocean, along rocky coasts were beautiful, each seeming to be better than the last. A couple of hours into our counter-clockwise journey hunger set in and we hadn't even reached the top of the east coast of the island. Luckily for us, the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish was still open and we were able to tuck ourselves into their beautiful lounge to feast on a few lucious oysters and a spinach salad. After that we pressed on, deciding not to go the the very "Top of the Island" in the interest of time but rather to cut across to Pleasant Bay and then hope for a great sunset as we drove down the west coast of the island.
Skirting the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the trail traverses mountains - peak to valley and back to peak again, with the most beautiful virgin forests we had ever seen appearing like a never-ending sea of fall color. Once we reached the west coast, the skies were cloudy and moody, and the coastline resembled the west coast of Oregon or northern California. Thankfully, the roads became less steep and windy and Mother Nature provided us with a spectacular sunset replete with inspirational sunbeams and dramatic clouds.
Photos and Slide Show ©2013 Claudia Ward
Music: Dawn by Various Artists from soundtrack of "Pride and Prejudice"