Having moved from the UK to Canada over five years ago, it is never lost on me how large my new home country is. While I enjoy nothing more than getting out and exploring Canada with its Rocky Mountains and prairie landscapes, my adventures have always been restricted to western provinces. So this June I couldn’t resist the opportunity to discover a part of Canada’s eastern coast and travel just under 5,000 kilometers east to the province of Nova Scotia.
The province dangles from Canada’s mainland surrounded by the Atlantic like a wantaway island connected by a sliver of land. In Latin, its name translates as New Scotland and like old Scotland I was about to find out that it is a beautiful place to visit.
After flying into the province’s capital Halifax we picked up a car and drove straight up north to Wolfville so that we could travel eastwards along the province’s northern coast. On route we stopped at Burntcoat Head Park and red clay-like sand. With its lighthouse overlooking the beach the park is famed for its record breaking Bay of Fundy tides which have risen up to 53.6 feet. A mind boggling 160 billion tons of water pass through the bay daily.
Here are some highlights of my Nova Scotia travel adventures:
On our travels further east, we stopped at the town of Inverness, I assume named after Old Inverness in Old Scotland, and decided to check out the beach. We arrived just before sunset, which was perfect because it meant that we had large stretches of the 1.5km family-friendly beach to ourselves at we watched the sun dip down past the horizon.
Sections of the dunes behind the beach had boardwalk making for an enjoyable stroll back to town.
One of our main goals on this visit was check out Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton National Park. We barely had enough time to scratch the surface of this large park, however with what little time we had we wanted to get a flavour of it.
To do this, we decided to walk the Skyline trail which is an easy 8km loop trail that took us along French Mountain and gave us a fantastic view of the Atlantic. From our vantage point we even caught sight of some whales (I can only speculate that they were humpbacks) rising up from the ocean to splash the surface of the ocean.
After exploring the Skyline trail, our taste of Cape Breton was over as we had to head back west towards Inverness. However there was time to squeeze in one more adventure near the town of Chéticamp. Located there is a project underway to create trails around a now disused gypsum mine. Ours was the only car parked at the trailhead as we walked the short distance down the Gypsum Mine Trail. The walk brought us to small, but beautiful lake with amazingly emerald water.
The lake was enclosed by cliff faces, which I assume may have been created when the mine was in full production in the early 1900s. From the lakes edge we noticed a steep path leading up the side of one of the rock faces. Somebody had left ropes which were tied to trees higher up which helped us pull ourselves up. From the top of that path we got a great view back down the mines and the lake.
Our last day in Nova Scotia required us to drive back eastwards towards Halifax for our flight early the following morning. After arriving in Halifax and exploring its waterfront boardwalks and restaurants, we decided the place we wanted to round off our trip was Peggy’s Cove for sunset.
It was about an hours drive from downtown Halifax and involved driving down a scenic albeit twisty road. Peggys Point Lighthouse sit at the eastern entrance of Margarets bay. Like many Canadian lighthouses it is surplus to requirements for the Canadian Coast Guard. However, it remains as a popular tourist attraction for people who come to take in the views.
Travellers should be warned though, when exploring the area there have been numerous fatalities as strong serf has swept visitors from the rocks and under the water. As a rule, stay off any black rocks around the bay, even when the water looks calm.