Following a long lie and a quick breakfast at our hotel we hopped back in the car, topped the tank up with more fuel and set off on our next leg of our journey. We didn't see much of Moncton but that had always been the plan as it used as somewhere to stop off between our tour of the Gaspé Peninsula and our tour of the Ceilidh & Cabot Trails.
This next part of our trip took us out of New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia and we could most definitely see the similarities between it and home, and not just because of some of the place names (and the reduction in French signs)!
It took us just over 4 hours to drive to Mabou with a quick stop off in New Glasgow at the lovely BaKED for some lunch. They used milk bottles as water jugs and jam jars as glasses so it was a very eco-friendly little spot, and the broccoli and potato soup was delicious! Although Craig did wonder that given the recent change of cannabis laws in Canada that potentially "BaKED" may have been a whole different type of cafe!
The first stop on the Ceilidh Trail was Mabou, where we were booked in to the Mabou River Inn. We had the friendliest welcome and we immediately felt at home, so much so that first on the agenda was to get a load of laundry done - Craig was beginning to reach a bit of a sock crisis (his words)! The obvious thing to do whilst we waited was to make use of the hotels table tennis table and we have finally found a sport that Katy is better at than Craig! Post laundry and table tennis we took up the locals recommendation of dinner and entertainment at The Red Shoe. We were treated to some ceilidh music by Melody & Derrick Cameron, although sadly there was no space for us to get up and dance! However, Katy maybe...possibly...definitely got a wee bit teary eyed when they played Mull of Kintyre (the first time either of us have felt a little homesick). After the entertainment finished we enjoyed an incredible meal of locally sourced fish and a local wine for Katy and a Red Shoe Ale for Craig.
The next morning after what we both agreed was the best nights sleep we had had since we left we were treated to Dave's delicious freshly made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. They were just what we needed to set us up for our tour of North America's first (Canada's only) single malt whisky distillery and those of you who know Craig can well imagine that he was delighted that Katy had gotten over her fear of driving on the opposite side of the road in time to be his designated driver. We enjoyed the tour despite the few inaccuracies made of Scottish distilleries (Glengoyne spelt Glendoyne and apparently all distilleries in Scotland use peat to dry out their barley - they clearly weren't used to having such connoisseurs on the tours!) Sadly there were no bottles on sale small enough for Craig to drink before we get on our next flight (as the whisky finished in ice wine casks sounded amazing) so he had to make do with both of our tasting samples at the end of the tour. He thoroughly enjoyed them albeit he was left aghast at how others on the tour downed theirs like a shot of tequila!
Next stop on our tour was Inverness Beach, where thankfully there is a lovely promenade as neither of us are big sand lovers! It's a lovely short walk with a stunning view out to the Gulf of the St Lawrence River. We then left the car at the beach and walked up in to the town of Inverness for some lunch at the Westside Cookhouse. More delicious seafood and we were set up for the rest of the day, so much so we even went back down to the beach and changed into our flip flops and hit the sand (we still don't like it!).
Another 45 minutes in the car, as we left the Ceilidh Trail behind and joined the Cabot Trail, we reached our next stop, Alberts Motel in Chéticamp. Having felt a bit like nomads for the past week we were delighted to finally check in to somewhere for a whole two nights! We dumped our bags and walked along the coast to Chéticamp Harbour Range Front Lighthouse, it was one of the landmarks pictured in the Lonely Planet guide when we had first started planning our trip so it was a little bit surreal to be standing in front of it. It is a small but very picturesque lighthouse with excellent views over the water to Chéticamp island.
Having had a big lunch we popped into the supermarket for some picnic supplies and enjoyed some sandwiches in our room for dinner before crashing out.
After a bit of a long lie we made our way out to the Acadian Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We did however, have an interesting start to the morning as a spider took its opportunity to crawl onto Katy in the car, causing a scream, a flap, nearly causing Craig to crash. It went from bad to worse for Katy as our first wildlife sighting on the trail was a snake she nearly stood on. However, we reached the view point where there were more incredible views of the Gulf of the St Lawrence and this time we were sure we could see some Minke Whales in the distance. Coming back down we spotted a red squirrel and some chipmunks however we didn't have the camera ready to get shots of them as they dashed off into the woodland.
Having only had a bran muffin for breakfast we were both absolutely ravenous post walk so we grabbed a quick shower and walked along to the Harbour Restaurant and Bar for a very late lunch. It had beautiful views of the lighthouse we had walked to the previous day and particularly tasty food, unsurprisingly more seafood!
We finished off our day with some Steam Whistle and a particularly competitive game of Rummy on our terrace.
The next morning we had a rather early start as we wanted to climb the Skyline Trail before the forecasted rain stopped us from seeing the incredible view. Sadly as with a lot of these places it had become a bit of a tourist trap so it was too busy for any wildlife spotting and the walkway was a bit crowded but we beat the clouds and the view more than made up for it.
After the Skyline Trail we were in desperate need of something to eat so stopped off at the famous Chowder House in Neil's Harbour to try out their chowder that everyone raved about, it was incredible and just what we needed after the mornings exertions.
Next stop was our accommodation for the night, the ZzzzMoose in Birch Plain, 4 little clamping cabins run by a Dutch gentleman. We thought it was the perfect stop off for the night until the rain forecast earlier in the day came in and then some as it turned into a thunder and lightening storm along with the biggest hail stones either of us have ever seen. We realised just how vulnerable we felt essentially staying in a shed for the night! However, us and the cabin, survived!
Our last full day on the Cabot Trail began with some delicious Dutch pancakes and we set off to Big Bras d'Or to board the Puffin Express with Bird Island Boat Tours (a company that has been going for over 40 years). We spent 3 hours touring the Bird Islands and saw Atlantic Puffins, Great Blue Herons, a Black-Legged Kittiwake among many others. It was an incredibly interesting tour run by a father and son, Vince and Ian, whose enthusiasm for the birds was just infectious!
Managing to leave without picking up any Puffin-related merchandise (well done Katy) we set off to Baddeck to check into the Telegraph House Hotel, a very twee hotel. With the floral wallpaper and thick quilt covering the bed we felt like we had checked into someone's Granny's spare bedroom! However, it was extremely comfortable and put us in the perfect location for the pièce de résistance of our time in Cape Breton and that was having the lobster platter at the Linwood Inn. Having mostly eaten picnics in our hotel rooms during our time here to justify having lobster on a backpackers budget, we can definitely say it was worth it and every bit as good as it looks! After dinner we set out in hunt of a bar or pub where we could join the locals for a drink or two only to discover that Baddeck is actually a dry town and can only serve alcohol in licensed restaurants so a bit disappointed we made our way back to our hotel for an early night!
We are now off back to the city, Halifax here we come!