After a day recovering we continued our journey toward and into Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail. This is a road around the northern tip of Nova Scotia, directly translated means “New Scotland” and is reflected in the names of people and places. Ancestry is very strong here. There are several small arty-crafty type shops selling very traditional Scottish offerings, including tartan shortbread, Whiskey, Tartan and similar products. Naturally a shopping opportunity not to be missed and the truck gets heavier!
We headed along the North-East coast into the National Park. The coastline is fantastic, reminiscent of the Cornwall/Devon coastline with great cliffs and pretty harbours. The Lobster season has just concluded and now the fisherman are bringing in snow crab. The health and safety fairies have failed to encroach here and you can get right up to the boats and the crew are more than happy to show you the catch and share their experiences. You buy fresh (Still moving) crabs at a ¼ of the store prices direct. It just wouldn’t happen in the UK. Again everyone is friendly and approachable.
We arrived at Meat Cove, just, the furthest point North on the island. There is only one road which consists about 50/50 tarmac and dirt. Some gradients so severe they required our first gear (Which I do not even use to pull away with on a slope!) we passed a number of Winnebago style camper vans that elected to turn back but we, heroically, soldiered on and well worth it, it was. We secured a space at the (only commercial venture) campsite there and the truck was perched precariously on the edge of a cliff overlooking a fantastic bay. https://meatcovecampground.ca/
The following morning we were treated to Harbour Seals in the bay and a Bald Eagle hunting overhead, and no, they didn’t come together! (I can feel those of you who are itching to put in a sarcastic comment J). We climbed to the top of the mountain which afforded this view of our encampment; busy busy.
This area is full of wildlife and there are warnings everywhere about Moose, Bears and Coyotes, the do’s and don’ts. Basically, it comes down to being big and scary, something I have got covered. Failing all else I can still run faster than Mandy !.
The following day we booked a Whale watching trip with a local Captain Fraser (Ahab) who took us out to sea. I was a little sceptical but right on cue a pod of pilot whales pitched up and kept us entertained for a good half hour. I am pretty sure the Whales were tourist watching themselves and so we both achieved that day. They are such graceful mammals and numbered about twelve to fifteen in the pod, including youngsters. http://www.oshan.ca/
The return journey along the West coast is through the highlands and some very challenging hills/mountains. We averaged about 10 mph here and had a long line of happy motorists following us for several miles. Not dissimilar to towing a caravan, cautiously, along a narrow two-way road in Wiltshire. I’m sure they love us with our large, unusual, slow, vehicle!
Overnight at Pleasant Bay was exactly that. We pulled up by the old harbour and staked our claim overlooking the ocean and a superb sunset. I was off for a stroll around the harbour and spotted an eagle roosting on a distant tree. The photography results were not great because of the light, distance, ineptitude, and other excuses, but I feel the need to post it anyway.
Cape Breton could not be completed without a visit to the oldest single malt distillery in North America. We were treated to a tour and some very random facts about Scotland and how great it is. (So great in fact that they (their ancestors), up rooted themselves and dragged themselves across dangerous oceans to relocate in a place that regularly gets to -30 in winter). But the whiskey was good. https://www.glenoradistillery.com/
I have managed to find a replacement spare tyre just outside Toronto. They are few and far between but by happy coincidence we are heading that general direction anyway, to meet up with some friend and family.
Hit the road.
We have just arrived near to La Matapedia, Quebec Province, just on the border. Travelled about 450 miles in two days. Some of the highways are a bit monotonous but today we have travelled through thousands of acres of forest. The massive Kenworth, of Convoy fame, type articulated trucks thunder past, there is no 56mph restriction here (although I am not sure what the speed limit for heavies is yet) They overtake me at speed up hill with a full load, huge amounts of power, and fairly intimidating. The roads are pretty good, tarmac wise, however every bridge or crossing has lively old bumps at the beginning and end. These do lead to lighter moments as they routinely turn up just as Mandy has started to doze in the passenger seat, causing a minor airborne moment and shrieks. Occasionally my head comes into contact with the metal roof of the cab, well it breaks the tedium and gives me another thing to fix when I get a spare moment!.
We are using IOverlander http://www.ioverlander.com/ it’s an app that travellers can update where there are places to wild camp, campsites, potable water and toilet dumps, amongst other things. Tonight it has brought us to a river bank location on an old abandoned section of road close to La Matapedia. It is truly magical, nobody around at all.
But, thoughtfully, someone has set up a fire pit and picnic table. In the next 15 hrs about three vehicles pass us. Generally speaking the attitude here is that, if you cause no issues, noise or leave rubbish etc nobody minds where you stop as long as there is not a sign stating you cannot. Most people say hello and stop for a chat. Something the UK could take on board.
Onwards and into a very French, Quebec City, and this is not standard French but their own dialect from “old” France that makes it quite difficult to understand. Especially as I don’t speak French! I will leave that to our logistical negotiator, Mandy.
IOverlander took us to a small car park down by the docks and we tucked ourselves away behind a railway siding (Non moving) and next to a tennis court. Not as pretty as previous locations but it was about 30 minute walk into the Old Town and it’s only 30 degrees. (Yes I know it’s a bit warm in the UK too 🙂
Inside the City walls it was touristy, but very pleasant and with a good atmosphere. Lunch was found at a local hostelry in the sunshine. Mandy found her spiritual home in both historic buildings and shops, all was good with the world.
And after a day of intrepid exploring, would you believe it? Quebec also has an Irish pub!
Well if I must.
Thanks for looking/following, A&M.