Cape Breton Highlands National Park – Part 2
We left Ingonish Beach a bit later than we planned. We were going to be on the road at 10 but didn’t leave until 10:40. Oh well. We don’t exactly have a tight schedule!
We were blessed with a beautiful day once again and we drove straight into the Park and up to the northern end at North Cape where we left off our sightseeing yesterday.
A phenomenon we have encountered in the Maritimes, and no where else on all of our travels, is rocks erupting from the middle of the road. We came across this several times in Newfoundland and again here in Cape Breton just outside of Ingonish Beach. I don’t know how the rocks do this but perhaps they are like the mushrooms at the end of our paved driveway that just blew pieces of the asphalt out so they could reach the light. Are rocks like that???
From North Cape you leave the coast and go over the top of the mountainous center of Cape Breton Highlands – with a lovely twisty bit that made John wish he was on his motorcycle. I was expecting to drive right to the western side of the peninsula through a hardwood forest and then have scenic things to look at again.
Not so. We were constantly pulling over for view points. We even did a few short hikes. My favorite I think was at Lone Shieling – a Scottish term for a stone shepherd’s hut. Many Scottish immigrants settled in the Pleasant Valley area after being expelled from the Isle of Skye in the 1800’s.
To commemorate his Scottish roots Donald S. MacIntosh bequeathed 100 acres of his homestead in Grand Anse Valley for a park in 1934. When the park land was incorporated into Cape Breton Highlands National Park the Lone Shieling was built to recognize his heritage and gift.
The hike was really a 15 minute stroll through towering sugar maple trees; some of which are 350 years old. The light on the leaves was wonderful.
The second thing that made the Lone Shieling stop memorable took place before we walked into the woods. When we pulled into the parking lot a tour bus was also there and the folks were all sitting around the picnic tables having their lunch. There was a group sitting right in front of where we parked. Immediately heads were turning, elbows were nudging neighbours and everyone was looking at Poppy. By the time I got out of the truck 3 men had walked over and began asking questions. Within 15 minutes literally half of the tour bus occupants were standing around my truck. 10 minutes after that they were taking turns posing to have their photos taken with Poppy. The bus was running and ready to go and people were still happily talking about the little red truck. And….one fellow was from Chilliwack and a lady that came over right at the end was from Salmon Arm. She had recently moved there. What a hoot! I wish I had taken a photo of all these people in a ring around my truck.
A few kilometers down the road and went on an actual hike – still an easy walk but it took an hour. Again we walked through the forest along a stream to a small waterfall at the end – MacIntosh Falls.
Pretty colored house at Margaree
And to top it off the clouds were wonderful shapes around the lowering sun. I snapped well over a dozen photos out the window.