One area I never thought I would be seeing on this trip was Cape Breton Island, mainly because it is approximately 3 hours away from Halifax and it there is so much to see that you need a few days there. My biggest regret on the whole NS trip was not spending more time here as it is beautiful.
The island is famous for the Cape Breton Highlands National Park (run by Parks Canada) and the Cabot Trail – a 300km scenic drive around the Highlands with hikes, whale watching, biking, kayaking etc. The most recent fame of Cape Breton is the
tongue-in cheek joke regarding the island welcoming American ‘refugees’ if Donald Trump gets elected president.
Our journey to the island took us North West of Dartmouth through Truro, New Glasgow, Antigonish and on to Port Hastings, where you cross the Canso causeway to get on Cape Breton Island.
Turning west from Port Hastings takes you along the Ceilidh Trail (100kms) up to the start of the Cabot Trail.
This was a lovely drive in which we stopped at a tiny village called Inverness with an awesome beach and golf course overlooking the ocean. Even though it was a windy day, we must have spent about an hour there along the beach and boardwalk.
Ozzy also came on the trip and enjoyed the beach siting on top of the rocks.
We also found a memorial dedicated to the first Scottish settlers in Inverness in 1803 as well as some other people who are buried on the site. Kind of sad in a way as the plaque doesn’t really tell you what happened.
As much as we would have loved to go North onto The Cabot Trail and to Cape Breton Highlands, there just wasn’t enough time and as we had already been travelling for 4-5 hours, we were getting tired.
We drove south from a place called Margaree Forks along a rural route past Lake Ainslie to an area called The Little Narrows. To get across to the other side we got the car ferry – this cost an eye watering $7 and only took 3 minutes to get across the water. We did find out later that evening that there is a road you can use to avoid the ferry toll.
The final drive of our day took us to Iona, another small community and where our accommodation for the night was located – The Iona Heights Inn. Iona sits on Bras d’Or Lake and it honestly does remind you of the Highlands of Scotland. Most of the towns and villages have the Gaelic name under the English as part of their Scottish heritage. Iona has the Highland Museum, which focuses on NS’s Gaelic culture and language but we didn’t go into the museum.
We did find a little pebble sandbank to sit and look out over the lake.
The evening meal was spent in the pub & grill in the hotel, which had been recently renovated. The facilities also have a chocolate shop (made on-site) and a small convenience & liquor store.
The evening was also the Canada vs Europe Hockey World Cup match and what with Adam being Canadian and obsessed with hockey, we had to watch it. I do believe we made friends with another guy at that bar from NS and engaged in a tequila shot and a sambuca/strawberry liquor shot along with pints of Keiths beer. :S