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Ann Marie's Travel Diaries 

June 2013 - Trip to Ceilidh Trail and Cabot Trail

Day 1 - I arrive in Cape Breton & the main point of day 1 was to find the starting point of the TransCanada Trail at Port Hastings. I knew it was there but never really stopped to check it out.  Well, this time I did!!

 Beginning of the Ceilidh Coastal Trail

When driving on the Canso Causeway turn left as soon as you cross the bridge when you actually arrive on the island. You'll see the kiosk right away. The trail actually starts behind the Coast Guard buildings.

Simply go behind the wire fence (to your right looking at the buildings) and you'll see the trail. I walked part of it and it looks awesome as it really is a piece of land stretching out into the bay.

This is the Ceilidh Coastal trail and it is the beginning of the TransCanada trail on Cape Breton Island.  This trail is also part of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. This multi-purpose trail stretches for 92 kilometers from Port Hastings to Inverness.  It is awesome and is great for hiking and biking.

I explored several different sections of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail as it runs almost parallel the Ceilidh Trail (route 19) so I was very close to it many times.

Another view along the Ceilidh Coastal trail

The other highlight was a visit to the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique. This was my first visit to the centre and I was early in the season  so I was lucky enough to have the display room to myself. 

This is definitely worth a can even have a fiddle lesson! 

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique

My luck continued and I was treated to an afternoon ceilidh.  A piano player and fiddler.  The locals in the area even gave us a square dance show.  I loved it!

Douglas Cameron entertains at the Celtic Music Centre

My day wasn't finished as I met a friend who took me to West Mabou Beach Provincial Park for an evening hike. It was fabulous.

Not quite finished......a beer with some fish & chips at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou!!

By the time I made to the Mabou River Inn ....I was finished for the day!! 

West Mabou Beach at Sunset

Day 2 - I started the day in the friendly Mabou River Inn.  Great coffee, freshly made cinnamon buns and porridge bread for toast.  It started as an overcast day but I knew that it was going to clear. 

I decided to retrace my steps back to Judique as I wanted to see the Judique Flyer trailhead.  By the time I got there the sun was out.  I even saw a bald eagle in the distance.  The trail did not disappoint.

Stopped for a great cup of coffee and oatcake at Sandeannie’s in Harbour View.  This little place is definitely worth a stop.

Took lots of great pictures in the Mabou area.  Mabou Harbour and Mabou Coal Mines are especially beautiful.  I must admit that I wanted to do some hiking in the Mabou Highlands but time was running short.  Check out my page on the hiking in the Mabou Highlands

Anyway, it turned out fine since I wanted to make it back to Mabou for 5pm.  A fiddler was going to be at the Red Shoe.  He did not disappoint! The place was full.  The fishcakes were the special of the day.......they were great!!

Another full day on the Ceilidh Trail.

Day 3 - I left Mabou on day 3 but not before giving some travel advice to a visitor from New York City.  It is always lots of fun to share the beauty of Cape Breton.

I made my way to Port Hood and spent some time at the Port Hood day-park and beach.  A beautiful spot.  A section of the Celtic Shores Coastal trail overlooks the day park. The signs indicating the trailhead are not big so I almost missed it.

I then made my way to Inverness and discovered the boardwalk and the beach.  I haven't been to Inverness in years. I walked for quite a long time on the boardwalk.  Words cannot describe how beautiful it is.  The sand dunes are majestic in the sunlight.

The boardwalk along the ocean in Inverness

As I made way along the Ceilidh Trail I decided to take the Broad Cove Marsh Road. This is 'off-the-beaten-track' and 100% worth it! The scenery along here is absolutely gorgeous.

I came across MacLeods Campground and wandered around a bit. Another beautiful spot for camping and the beach is pure sand. Apparently, the author, Allister Macleod, had his summer place close by and did most of his writing here.

I was starting to lose steam at this point but continued my way to Cheticamp. The sunny day stayed with me. I was taking lots of photos. The coastline to Cheticamp is wonderful and you can feel the uniqueness of this special place.  I am now on the Cabot Trail.

Later that evening I am sitting in the Harbour Restaurant on the waterfront in Cheticamp. Enjoying the view of a lobster boat sitting quietly in the water with a small lighthouse nearby. The Nova Scotia red wine is delicious and I am awaiting my meal of pan-fried haddock. Acadian singer/songwriter Sylvia LeLievre is to play at 7pm.

Another perfect end to another perfect day.........and the sun is still shining.

Day 4 - Today was a day for hiking.  I made my way to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in the morning. The visitor centre at the Cheticamp entrance is excellent.  I met some ladies there from Ohio that I had seen several times over the last few days.  We chatted a bit and I gave them some ideas for their day.  They were certainly having a good time.

I decided to start my day with a hike on the Acadian Trail which starts beside the visitor information centre.  The weather was iffy but I went anyway.  I had done this trail many years ago and remember that the views of the Cheticamp coastline were awesome.

It was challenging.....very challenging!  But I made it all the way and yes, the views were astounding.  There are actually several excellent look-off points!  The entire loop took me about 3 hours.

After having an energy bar I decided that I could do the Skyline Trail.  It is not difficult and I really wanted to see the platforms that had been added and, of course, that view!  The sky was now clear so I didn't want to miss my chance.

The Skyline Hiking trail on the Cabot Trail

I was not left was unbelievable! Words cannot describe how spectacular the Skyline is! It was quite interesting when I arrived at the viewing platform......there were about 10 people there....but no one was was silent! It was like everyone was overwhelmed by the beauty before them!

By the time I was ready for the return trip my legs were feeling tired.....very tired! I walked slow.....very slow! I was so happy when I reached the trailhead.

There were 2 more stops.....the Veteran's Monument Look-off and the Corney Brook campground. The sun was still anxious to have a good look at my pictures and get them on my site!

The day was not yet finished......dinner at Laurie's Restaurant and Sylvia was playing there tonight.

As I walk into the restaurant guess who I 4 ladies from Ohio! They invited me to join them for dinner. Everyone had seafood.....salmon, haddock and scallops! After dinner we went upstairs to listen to was another perfect end to another perfect day!

Only 1 issue really.....every bone in my body is aching from the 2 hikes today......I am very happily exhausted!

Day 5 - Today is my day to do the section of the Cabot Trail from Cheticamp to Ingonish.  The weather is fantastic....not a cloud in the sky and warm!  A real gift from the gods!

I decide to stop again at the Veteran's Monument for another photo shoot.  The sky was better than the day before so I figured I would get better pictures. I don't think I'll be disappointed. 

View from the Veteran's Monument look-off on Cabot Trail

I made several more stops on MacKenzie Mountain for shots of Fishing Cove and Pleasant Bay. A beautiful day for taking pictures.

I hadn't been to Pleasant Bay to see the Whale Interpretive Centre. Watch for the signs after your descent from MacKenzie Mountain. 

This little museum is really great and the gentlemen working there was full of stories. He saw a humpback whale from the shore one day jumping out of the water feeding on whatever was in its path!

I think this centre is a really great place to take the kids to learn about whales. It is full of information and fun stuff for the young ones. It is located in Pleasant Bay harbour so the whale watching boats are close by.

After conquering North Mountain and re-discovering the Lone Sheiling I decide to turn left at Cape North and take the side trip to Bay St. Lawrence. I was basically glued to the harbour when I was full of activity and I just had to take pictures of the action.

Cabot's Landing at Sugar Loaf was a necessary stop on my way back to the Cabot Trail. This place is great and I don't think that many people know about it. It is a provincial picnic park and the beach is wonderful. It goes on forever and the views to the north and to the south are awesome.

My next detour was turning left at Effie's Brook to follow the scenic route to White Point and then Neil's Harbour.  This is not 'officially' part of the Cabot Trail.

The beautiful fishing village White Point

White Point is one of the most picturesque places in northern Cape Breton. The small harbour is a pure delight. Follow the road to the end until you hit a dirt road that becomes a path leading toward the ocean. There really isn't any parking so be careful not to block any driveways.

The path will lead you to a vast array of trails on the cliffs. It is very beautiful and just when you think there is nothing else to go over a hill or turn a little corner and another awesome view jumps out at you. You can hike for as long as you want here. It is impossible to get lost.

I continue on to Neil's Harbour when I leave White Point. I head directly toward the lighthouse and the Chowder House on the cliff. I already know what I want!! A fresh crab dinner please! I just missed the lunch crowd so I had the place to myself. The crab was just a great as I remember!

I am a happy camper!

Crab dinner at the Chowder House in Neil's Harbour

Day 6 - A tour of the Ingonish area was the activity for today.  After a full breakfast at the Glenghorm Resort I was ready to explore.  My first stops were Broad Cove beach and then North Bay beach.  These are beautiful beaches that seem to go on forever. 

Next stop was Ingonish beach and Freshwater Lake.  More beautiful beaches. I decide to follow the hiking trail near Freshwater Lake to stretch my legs. I also managed to see a bit of the Highland Links golf course....a real gem on the island. 

Ingonish Beach

Cape Smokey was next. I didn't have time to do the hiking trail but I did explore along the top and got some great shots of the coastline. This is an awesome place for a picnic.

I then made my way travelling south down the coast stopping at some cool places along the way......Wreck Cove General Store, The Clucking Hen, Leather Works and Iron Art & Photographs. This is just a sample of the unique places to stop along this section of the Cabot Trail.

Don't forget to check-out the North Shore WeatherStone at the Clucking Hen.  The Clucking Hen is a great little restaurant.

The North Shore Weatherstone next to the Clucking Hen

I checked out 2 campgrounds along this coast. Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort in Indian Brook and Joyful Journeys in Jersey Cove. These are very different campgrounds offering interesting facilities.  They are both on the coast with ocean access so that makes them even better.

Great choices for camping along the Cabot Trail.

My final destination for the day was the Gaelic College in St. Ann's. A wonderful place to learn about the Gaelic and Scottish history in Cape Breton. They even have demonstrations of kilt-making, weaving and milling.

Indian Brook which flows into St. Ann's Bay

Day 7 - My last day and a quick visit to Baddeck.  Another gorgeous day with the sun shining bright!  This was Alexander Graham Bell's summer residence.  The museum in his name is a definite visit.  This is a great little village with lots to see. 

It sits right on the shores of the Bras d'or lakes. Boating and sailing are a huge part of life here. 

Looking for a great cup of coffee.....check out the High Wheeler cafe or the Bean There cafe.

Out for a sail on Baddeck Bay

I decided to stop at the Herring Choker which is past Baddeck in Nyanza on highway 105 west headed toward the Canso Causeway. This is a cool place to stop for coffee, sandwiches.......and a molasses cookie which is always needed when stopping here!

I had a fantastic time touring the Ceilidh Trail and Cabot Trail.  There is so much to see and do............from hiking to whalewatching to square dancing to biking to learning to play the fiddle.............something for everyone!

If you have any questions about my tour please feel free to send me a note on my contact page.

Have you toured the Ceilidh
or Cabot Trail?

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