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August 1st, 2013 | Canada

Digby to Halifax – The Lighthouse Trail…

I left Digby after lunch, and knew I would have to ride hard to follow my original route to Halifax, mostly along the Lighthouse Trail on the western and southern coast of Nova Scotia.

First port of call after Digby, would be Yarmouth, barely an hour away.

First port of call after Digby, would be Yarmouth, barely an hour away.

The first hour of my ride was an easy one, all the way along the coast oh Highway 101. Traffic was light and when I stopped in Yarmouth to refuel and have a late lunch, I asked about the lighthouse at Cape Forchu. The lady behind the counter at the rest stop had never been there, although she admitted to having lived in Yarmouth for “over 10 years”…!!

This portion of Nova Scotia is famous for it's French influence, dating back to the early 1700's...

This portion of Nova Scotia is famous for it’s French influence, dating back to the early 1700’s…

“There must be an awful lot of interesting things to do in Yarmouth if after 10 years you still haven’t visited your local lighthouse !!”, I quipped…

This was probably the umpteenth time that a local resident of an area I was interested in, could not guide me to a monument or landmark in their hometown… I am amazed that some people don’t have the faintest idea of the historical value of their places of abode !!

Looking at my watch, I saw that it was already 2.30 pm and I had a long way to go before I reached Halifax. Taking into consideration that I intended to ride along the far slower coastal road, rather than the highway, I figured I would see many other lighthouses along the way, and therefore decided to forego a visit to the Yarmouth one.

Hugging the rocky coastline, I passed through the tiny settlements of Pubnico, Charlesville, and Upper and Lower Woods Harbor, before arriving at a place that had me grinning to myself…

Imagine living in a place with this name… And I wonder if any of these locals had an interesting story or two to tell about how this place got it’s name !!

Question is, What exactly are you keeping a light on, in Shag Harbour...!!

Question is, What exactly are you keeping a light on, in Shag Harbour…!!

I made a U-turn and headed back to the parking and viewing area near a newly built fish and lobster processing factory, where I read up on some of the local history… I was disappointed to discover that the harbor is named after the many cormorants found in this area. They are known as Shags !! Who would have thought !!

 I nearly fell off the bike when I saw the sign to this little fishing village.

I nearly fell off the bike when I saw the sign to this little fishing village.

 It seems I was not the only foreign visitor interested in Shag Harbor !!

It seems I was not the only foreign visitor interested in Shag Harbor !!

The incident is part of local folklore and accepted by most, that it did indeed take place...

The incident is part of local folklore and accepted by most, that it did indeed take place…

 

The Big Fella waits patiently and bemused while I read up on the UFO incident...

The Big Fella waits patiently and bemused while I read up on the UFO incident…

A little ways down the road, was a museum dedicated solely to the UFO incident, proof positive that the locals took the sighting very seriously !

One of the few lighthouses I did get to see on the Lighthouse Trail... This one at Barrington.

One of the few lighthouses I did get to see on the Lighthouse Trail… This one at Barrington. Photo taken from the back yard of a private residence !!

I rode east and then north along the twisting road to Barrington; through the bustling little town and on the eastern outskirts, spotted a lighthouse that I wanted to get a closer look at. I saw a narrow driveway and thought this was the entry point. It was only when I began dodging washing hanging out to dry, that I realized I was in somebody’s back garden !!

 Getting to see them all would require far more time than I had available to me...

Getting to see them all would require far more time than I had available to me…

I tried to turn around as quietly as possible without alerting the residents, but to no avail ! A little boy ran out into the yard, followed by his mother, who with a smile on her face asked if I was there to see the lighthouse. She pointed further down the hill, showing me where the official parking place was and told me that I was not the first to make the mistake of riding into her yard to see the Barrington lighthouse.

I apologized for the intrusion and prepared to leave. The little boy was hopping from one foot to the other, trying to chip in with questions about the bike. I answered as many as I could, before his mother said I could park the bike where it was as long as I kept her son out of her hair for a while !!

I answered his queries about the bike and where I had been while walking up the hill to take a look at the lighthouse. It was closed, a big padlock on the door. I discovered that this was a replica of the actual Seal Island Lighthouse which was built on the island just offshore, and is the oldest wooden lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

I later bid the little boy goodbye and rode out of their yard and back onto the main road, feeling a few droplets of rain on my cheeks as I did so. The low grey clouds that seemed to envelop the entire southern shoreline, were threatening to dump their liquid contents and ruin the ride I had planned…

For the next few hours I rode along the windswept coastline, through many small villages where grizzled fisherman carried their day’s catch from their boats to waiting pick-up trucks parked at odd places along the shore. Many of them had homes built on the edge of the sea and tied their boats up almost at the front door !

The road looped around many small bays before ending back on the main highway to Halifax, and as it was getting colder and wetter the further east I rode, I decided to skip parts of the coastal road and make up some time to get to my destination before nightfall.

The Bluenose was a famous fishing and racing  schooner built in Lunenburg in1921.

The Bluenose was a famous fishing and racing schooner built in Lunenburg in1921.

At Bridgewater, I stopped to consult my original route, and decided that apart from one more loop down to the coast, I would stay on the highway and at least avoid some of the high winds that were beginning to batter the coastline. I rode on to Chester and took the road that led down to Blandford and Bayswater, skirting the eastern side of Mahone Bay and then turned north and rode along the western edge of Margaret’s Bay.

This was a beautiful stretch of the coast, and with the weather seeming to keep most people indoors, the roads were as near as empty as could be. Thick forest on my left, and seascapes on my right for most of the ride. Despite the damp conditions where light rain had either fallen before I got there, or was settling over me like a wet misty blanket, I found enough grip in the tyres to have a little fun out there…

In places where I could see far ahead, I used both sides of the road to push the Big Fella through corners as fast as I was able to… It was the most exhilarating part of the day for me, and had there been time, I would have gladly did this section again…

The Stardust Motel in Halifax was where I finally got to spend the night...

The Stardust Motel in Halifax was where I finally got to spend the night…

My damp riding kit and the cold wind, began to tell on my exuberance eventually, and once back on the highway, I made a beeline for Halifax, arriving there in the gloom of late evening.

I began searching for a place to spend the night and was turned away by four different hotels and told that I was unlikely to find a room in Halifax itself. This was due to the fact that it was a public holiday on Friday, and many people had come to the city to spend the long weekend. I also discovered that the rock band KISS were having a concert there on Friday and Saturday night, and this had brought even more people to the city than was usual !!

“Kiss ??” I said to the one hotel manager, “Are they still alive ??”

He laughed and said, “Well they shouldn’t be !!”

I was a big fan of KISS back in the day, and remember writing four of my final matric exams with my face painted like Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley… I also wrote one with my face painted like Adam Ant !! Ah, those were the days of my rebellious youth… My high school teachers let out a sigh of relief that was heard around the province when I left the school gates for the last time !!

I eventually left the city and headed north to the town of Bedford, where from the edge of the highway, I saw a neon sign for the Stardust Motel, and looped back to check if they had a room available for me. They did indeed, and after settling in, I was able to stroll across the parking lot and enjoy a decent meal at the Thai restaurant attached to the motel…

I was on track to get to Tiernan’s wedding in time, but only just ! A year ago, I would never have bothered setting out on a ride at lunchtime on any given day. I far preferred to be out on the road by 8.00 am the latest, and put in a full day’s ride to complete whatever route I had planned.

With the longer daylight hours up here in northern Canada, I was happy to ride into the late evening to get to where I wanted to be, and today had been one of those days. It had taken almost seven hours to cover the 420 km I had ridden, and I had managed to find the time to enjoy the scenery and stop to check out some of the interesting sights along the way.

I had covered almost the entire eastern and southern coastline of Nova Scotia in the last two days, and tomorrow would complete the southern section and then ride up and do most of the northern coastline of this province, before crossing over to Prince Edward Island, for my rendezvous with family and friends to witness the fifth wedding I have attended with them over the past 22 months !!

Today's action...

Today’s action… Digby to Halifax.

 ©GBWT 2013

1 comment to Digby to Halifax – The Lighthouse Trail…

  • Wilbur

    Watch out for the new big bridge toll to PEI…was $ 35 some years ago…..probably higher today….maybe the ferry still is working and is little cheaper…

    You’ll see plenty of Japs on PEI…..they come for the Anne of Green Gables story…
    Also check out the fishing port , North Harbour….i used to catch giant Bluefin Tuna from there some years back……600 kg class…..now the Japs buy all of em’ for Tokyo shashimi….on a plane within a day for japan.
    You can charter a boat to fish yourself…..free if you catch one….!

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