Saturday, October 30, 2021

thanksgiving week in the highlands - a trip around the cabot trail

We are often asked, as fairly green Nova Scotians still, what we love about this place we call home. There are many answers that come to mind, but one that I feel many people aren't aware of, is how beautifully diverse the landscape of this province is. There are parts that feel so classically New England-like, where the coastline here seems to blend seemlessly with those across the waters belonging to Maine. There's the fertile Valley that runs between the mountains, parallel to the Bay, a patchwork of farmland, fruit trees and vines.

And then there are the Highlands.

It's as though the last of Scottish blood flowing through me is drawn to this place. As though part of me knows the hills of a home from generations past lie just beyond the horizon. The fog that rises from the lochs there, rolls across waves and settles on the hills here. The same salty waters come swirling in with the tides at the base of each cliff along coastline. The highlands leave me feeling like I've returned home.


When Ryan's family decided to come and spend Thanksgiving here, we wanted to make it extra special, so we decided to head up to Cape Breton for a few days away together. We booked a cottage right on the water in Ch├ęticamp, with the ocean to the front and the mountains behind. We took our time heading up, stopping to stretch our legs in Margaree Harbour. We follow the sign for Sandy Bathing Beach, and parked at the bottom of the dunes. We wound our way up through the roses well past their bloom, and stood at the lighthouse steps overlooking the harbour below. An old, white farmhouse sits at the top of the hill, flanked by two lighthouses. Just beyond the tall dune lies Margaree Harbour Beach.



When you climb up the dune, you smell the water and hear the waves before you can even see the beach. 


This is the view from our cottage. We could watch the sun rise behind the mountains from the back and see the sun sink below the horizon in the front.


If you've never heard of the Cabot Trail before, it's Canada's version of California's Highway 1. Honestly, before driving it, I didn't realize our East Coast had mountains like this. You wind along the coast, hugging the edge, climbing the mountains and descending down into the valleys. Lookoffs line the road at every beautiful vista so you can get out and take in the views.

 
Add the beauty of the changing leaves and it's a grand tour.
 
Not to mention those gorgeous October skies.



We kept things easy and usually ate out, or we picked a charcuterie and sipped wine at dusk.



On our way home we showed them Inverness Beach - one of our favourite beaches in Nova Scotia. It was grey and moody, but it didn't stop us from enjoying a stroll on the beach in the drizzling rain.





There are so many other places we stopped - Ingonish Beach and Neil's Harbour are other favourites. And if you're really adventurous, go all the way out to Meat Cove.


Whatever you do, just give yourself plenty of time to stop. It's the kind of drive that on paper is three or four hours, but will end up taking you the entire day. But trust me, you won't mind one bit.

9 comments:

  1. Cspe Breton is beautiful. A large part of my heart lives there due to fhe natural beauty and historical connections that I have to Baddeck and the Bell story. Your post, as always, is beautiful. The images bring back so many deep memories.i particularly love the photp of the trail through the dunes to the beach: a favourite spot of ours.

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  2. What lovely words to bring a heart home to a place they've never been, but long to set foot upon. The minute I started reading I slipped into my music library and tuned into to Jim Brannigan singing 'The Hills of Margaree' to set the mood for your words ... then tried to hold the tears at bay that always assail me when I hear it. I'll blame it on my Scots heritage, and living in the Scottish Highlands (not long enough, but long enough to never want to leave) one short year. So Nova Scotia, being a wee bit closer to California than the old country is, has become the direction my compass points to, as soon as all this Covid rigmarole settles down a bit. Have a love affair with the traditional Nova Scotian music and dancing (went to see Natalie MacMasters at our local university's Performing Arts Center and came home feeling both inspired and a bit heartsick in the same breath. Beautiful blog yours ... brings comfort, simplicity and a gentle beauty all in one fell swoop! So happy to have found you!

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