St. Lunaire-Griquet is the Gateway to Vinland, as you pass through this picturesque town on Route 436 heading to L’anse aux Meadows for your Viking World UNESCO Heritage site destination. However, this town also has a great network of walking trails and further a mystery, known by locals as “St. Brendan’s” Rock.
This mysterious rock, was discovered by locals who saw an unusual jumble of straight line carvings and no claim by anyone for making them. People believe that these markings date back to St. Brendan, the Irish explorer of the 9th century who set out for the Isle of the Blessed. Although, there has been no evidence to actually prove this inscription was made by St. Brendan, it was made by someone and it does peak the interest to find out who made it and when? It certainly peaked my curiosity to travel to Dog Head via St. Brendan’s Trail.
The Trail Head begins at the playground area near the Daily Catch Restaurant, where you can take the road up the hill, which is known as St. Brendan’s trail and will take about 1/2 hour return. The trail to St. Brendan’s Rock though is via Dog Head, so at the top of the trail you must take the pathway to the right before the viewing area. The trail return is more than a 7 KM journey return.
The Dog Head Peninsula has spectacular scenery, where we had the opportunity to view whales. Earlier in the summer season this would also be a great place for iceberg viewing. The vast nature of trees, flowers, berries, beaches and coastline make for a formidable hike. The trail is part of the multi-day Iceberg Trail but it does require better directional markings and some improvement to trail paths to reduce getting wet feet or walking through mud.
I thoroughly enjoyed making this hike to the uniquely shaped peninsula that resembles a sleeping dog, the photos speak for themselves. Although, I was disappointed to have not found the boulder with the mysterious carvings. If one did not know exactly where it was, I doubt they would even find it. I asked many locals about the location of this mysterious rock, and was pointed to a couple of names. Although, I didn’t find this uniquely carved rock in 2020, I hope this year will be a different story.
There are so many interesting trails and mysteries that surround the Great Northern Peninsula. One only has to consider the French Graffiti of Album Rock in Ship Cove by photographer Moit in the 1850s or the French carvings in the rocks by sailors on the Epine Cordoret Trail in Croque Harbour. I’ll write about both in a future posting.
Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.
Live Rural NL
St. Barbe-Pigeon Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula is the year-round port for the MV Qajaq W, which crosses the Strait of Belle Isle in 1 hour and 45 minutes to land in Blanc Sablon, Quebec, just a few kilometres south of the Labrador border. For Ferry Information click here.
The opening and significant investment of paving in the Trans-Labrador highway, as well as a World UNESCO designation for Red Bay Basque Site has increased visitor traffic to Labrador. In 2019, the former MV Apollo was replaced with an enhanced vessel with 12 year $144 million contract to improve service. The work continues to see further upgrades of local infrastructure.
A number of tour companies see Gros Morne National Park and Tablelands World UNESCO site and L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage site as the perfect itinerary, with the inclusion of UNESCO at Red Bay, Labrador. The community of St. Barbe offers accommodations, food services, gas station, retail and is a hub of recreation activity.
While visiting this community or waiting for your ferry commute, I encourage you to take a walk on the beautiful trails. The St. Barbe-Pigeon Cove Walking trail is part of an inter-connected system that can take you as far as Forrester’s Point in a linear trail. It is more than 10 kilometres to complete the full system on a return journey.
This portion of the trail begins at the St. Barbe RV park, which is across from the Ferry Terminal. You can follow the fence to the forest and follow a crushed stone pathway that will take you to the waterfront area of Pigeon Cove in just a short kilometre.
I had the pleasure of taking this trail during the summer, but also recently in January, which offered another unique perspective as freezing was beginning in the harbour.
The St. Barbe RV park has been since upgraded with new red siding and will be ready for your business this coming season. There are many important amenities and offerings for the visitor, commuter or resident in St. Barbe-Pigeon Cove. When visiting the Great Northern Peninsula, this is gateway you will not want to miss.
Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.
Live Rural NL –
I’ve put together a list of walking/hiking trails and lookouts on the Great Northern Peninsula from Bellburns and all communities to the North. I’ll be linking these with posts with images and more information on each trail as I am able to update. In 2020, I created a challenge to get them all completed, so now I encourage you all to join the challenge when you visit the Great Northern Peninsula for yourself.
- Trails from Bellburns to Reef’s Harbour (GNP Central-South):
- Table Point Ecological Reserve (between Bellburns and River of Ponds)
- River of Ponds Walking Trails
- trail to the beach 3 km
- trail to big pond (section still under development)
- Hawke’s Bay
- John Hogan Trail, 6.4 km
- Port Saunders
- Crow Head Walking Trail
- Demonstration Forest
- Beach Trail (through subdivision)
- Port au Choix
- Dorset Trail
- Coastal Trail
- Phillip’s Garden Trail
- Point Riche Trail
- Barbace Cove Trail
- Bartlett’s Harbour
- New Ferolle
- Old Ferolle Lighthouse Trail
- Reef’s Harbour
- St. Margaret’s Bay Trail
- Trails from Plum Point to Eddies Cove East (GNP West):
- Bird Cove
- Dog Peninsula Trail
- Long Pond Trail
- Plum Point
- Basque Site Boardwalk
- Mount St. Margaret Ski Club and Trails
- St. Genevieve River Trail
- St. Barbe to Forrester’s Point (interconnected trail network)
- Anchor Point
- Deep Cove Trail
- Deep Cove Trail extension to gazebo and beach
- Deep Cove Ski Club and Trails
- Flower’s Cove
- White Rocks Walking Trail and Extension
- Marjorie Bridge and Thrombolites Trail
- Nameless Cove
- Flower’s Island Lighthouse Trail
- Sandy Cove
- Ecological Reserve for Longs Braya
- Trails from Englee to Croque (GNP East):
- Barr’d Island Trail
- Locker’s Point Trail
- White Point Trail
- Shoe Pond Hill Trail
- Heritage Trail
- The Farm
- Underground Salmon Hole
- Bide Arm
- Armistice Park Trail
- Sailor Jack’s Hill Lookout
- Glass Hole
- Fox Head Trail
- Captain Coupelongue Trail
- Sleepy Cove Trail
- Main Brook
- Main Brook Park Rugged Trails
- St. Anthony Basin Region (GNP North)
- North Boat Harbour
- Highlands Boardwalk
- Wild Bight
- Whale Point Trail
- Cape Norman Lighthouse
- Cook’s Harbour
- Garge Coates’ Lookout
- Goose Cove East
- Pumbley Cove Trail
- St. Anthony
- Bottom Brook Trails
- Lamage Point
- Tea House Hill
- American Base Trail
- Daredevil Trail
- Cartier’s Trail
- Whale Watcher’s Trail
- Santana Trail
- Iceberg Alley Trail
- St. Anthony Bight
- St. Anthony Point Loop
- Silver Point Trail
- St. Carol’s
- Great Brehat
- Flat Point Trail
- Little Brehat Walking Trail
- Triple Falls Trail (Route 430), 0.8 km
- Aurora Nordic Ski Club and Trails
- Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve
- Cannon Holes and Big Oven Hike
- Nuddick Trail
- Ship Cove
- Treena’s Trail
- Album Rock
- St. Lunaire-Griquet
- Gull Pond Municipal Park
- St. Brendan’s Trail
- Dog Head Trail
- Camel’s Back Trail
- L’anse aux Meadows
- Birchy Nuddick Trail
- Norstead Trail
- Lacey’s Trail
- Beginning of the Iceberg Trail
- Gunner’s Cove
- Aunt Bride’s Lookout
- Abandoned Community of Fortune (one entrance – 5.8 KM)
- Viking Ski Club and Trails
- Hay Cove
- Noddy Bay Head Trail
- Noddy Bay
- Squidjigging Point Trail
- Isle of Demons Trail (Quirpon Island)
- L’anse au Bauld
- Abandoned Community of Fortune via Cobbler; 8 km
- Quirpon Lookout Trail
- The Iceberg Trail (multi-day)
- International Appalachian Trail
If there is a trail I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll make an update. The Great Northern Peninsula, north of Gros Morne National Park and the gateway to Labrador offers visitors and residents hundreds of kilometres of trails and very unique experiences. There is beauty around every corner and so much to experience and explore when on a nature walk, hiking trail or a look-out.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore #NeverStopExploring
Imagine, L’anse aux Meadows, Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Canada is the land of first contact in North America by Europeans. Home of the only authentic Norse site in North America, where the Vikings came over 1,000 years ago and worthy of World UNESCO Heritage status.
A population of just a couple dozen residents today, this tiny community is truly Where the World Came Full Circle. It is the place where humanity met for the very first time, an event more than 100,000 years in the making. When the continents broke apart, people went left and people went right. Europeans reached Iceland and then Greenland and finally settled at L’Anse aux Meadows. It was there they met those who went right, our indigenous population of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have documentation of more than 5,000 years of their presence, only to connect for the first time 1,000 years ago with those who went left. This is the much bigger story of this ancient and meaningful place that must be told.
L’Anse Aux Meadows UNESCO Site
Annually 30,000 people flock to L’Anse aux Meadows from May-September. The Parks Canada experience is truly something that should be on your bucket list. The interpretation centre offers guided tours in French and English, a film in the theatre, artifacts and storyboards are on display, there are walking trails, get up close and personal to where the ancient mounds were and lets not forget the art and encounters with Vikings along the way. Also, the very talented local, Loretta Decker, has handmade Viking troll dolls available at the Heritage Shoppe. If you have time, take in an evening of Stories and Sagas.
This social enterprise is the ultimate hands on experience of how to live like a Viking. A fascinating open air museum, boasting the Snorri replica that sailed from Iceland to Greenland to L’Anse aux Meadows in the year 2,000 in the boathouse.
The local re-enactors can read you fortune using ruin stones, cook up a meal by the fire, make nails at the forge, teach you axe throwing for entertainment and skill, play nine man mill, or show you how to weave or knit with one needle. They have animals, a potter’s studio, gift shop and more onsite. Visitation increased by more than 2,000 additional people last year, which is no surprise to me given their exceptional public offering.
Fine dining with lots of local offerings and fresh ingredients at the Norsemen. It is one of the many exceptional restaurants along Route 436. An offering of musical entertainment during dinner meals and a perfect view if you are lucky during lunch. I recommend a martini with local berries and iceberg ice to start.
I enjoy the Art Gallery, lots of handmade and local products, especially the carvings. Exhibition space and direct sales for our artists is complimentary, providing another unique experience when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula.
- The Daily Catch, St. Lunaire-Griquet – profiled in the Globe & Mail for exceptional seafood offerings
- Café Nymphe, St. Lunaire-Griquet – located at Dark Tickle Company, a wildberry economusee that has an exceptionally sampling of teas, berry drinks and more
- Snow’s Take-Out, St. Lunaire-Griquet – home to Herb’s famous chicken. For the traveler interest in something fast and to take-a-way.
- Northern Delight Restaurant, Gunner’s Cove – a large family restaurant, with broad menu offering. They celebrate their Viking burgers, seafood and entertainment – don’t miss Mummer’s Night!
- Burnt Cape Café, Raleigh – a local flavouring of moose burgers, sandwiches and also gourmet experience, with Chef seafood specialties.
Skipper Hot’s Lounge in Straitsview is also a must if you want to experience the music at our local watering hole. The Skipper Hot’s band is performing Thursday-Sunday throughout the summer. They do Screech-ins and host kitchen parties and special events.
Along Route 436/37 there is ample choice for accommodations that include Provincial and Private RV parks (including tent sites), Raleigh Historical offers bunkhouses to live like a fisherman, there are cabins, cottages, chalets, b&bs, motels and a short drive to St. Anthony, there are additional accommodations including hotels.
The Viking Shop
Norman Young has been carving whale bones for many years. I highly recommend visiting his Viking Shop. As well, Taylor’s Crafts in Raleigh, has 4th generation carvers. Their soapstone products are phenomenal. Viking art can be found at Thorr’s Studio, Hay Cove. For a great souvenir shop on route to L’Anse aux Meadows, drop into the Hut in Noddy Bay! There is also Labradorite jewelry and youth entrepreneurs selling jams, pies and crafts.
From fish markets, retail, boat tours, ecological reserves, icebergs, cruise ship visits, outdoor art and more. One can see fishers at the wharves, eat locally grown mussels and interact and embrace community en route to L’Anse aux Meadows! Plan your 2017 visit today and you too can say you were where the World Came Full Circle!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development
After two days of being in the concrete jungle of a major Canadian city, it was very refreshing to spend a week on holiday in our beautiful province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Day 1: Tablelands
There is something magical about visiting the Tablelands, a World UNESCO Heritage Site in Gros Morne National Park. Each step you take, you feel as if you are on another planet. On the opposite roadside there is normal vegetation, but where the Earth’s mantle was pushed upwards and exposed, the pinkish brownish rock and masses are quite barren. This highly educational experience is also a photographers dream. Well, you know, it was a half billion years in the making!
I highly recommend the daily guided tour at 10 AM by Parks Canada staff. However, if you happen to miss it, there is an App where you get an interactive tour along the way from a Parks Canada staff member. With my Discovery Pass good until June 2018, when visiting the Discovery Centre, I was given a tablet with the App pre-loaded that worked by GPS coordinates and proved very helpful on my trek.
Without the App, I would have missed intricate details about boulders being out of place, where the water comes from and many other features of glacial formation along the way.
It was nice to see the provincial flower, the Pitcher Plant on display along the trail. This is a carnivorous plant that is found at the end of every single tourism commercial we run.
Along the two hour return hike, I encountered a range of visitors from the enfant to senior, from California to Ontario to Germany. There must have been 100 people on site, as there was no room for parking in the lot. Its fascinating to see all those with an interest to walk someplace so geological unique where the Earth’s mantle lies naked. It is most likely the best place in the World to see such a wonder and a great place to begin your adventure in Gros Morne National Park.
A few kilometres down the road is a quaint fishing village of Trout River. It boasts a beautiful beach and walking trail and a few years ago have a whale beached along this very coastline. There is a nice restaurant, accommodations and some small shops. There’s a photo to be taken around every corner.
Given my stay in Gros Morne would be very short, I decided to reach Woody Point for a later than normal lunch at the Loft Restaurant, which was full of buzz. I was quite fortunate to get an outdoor table overlooking the beautiful Bonne Bay. While eating the EmmCat Boat Tour came by for a cruise and we waved to those aboard.
I had the fish and a salad with a glass of house white wine, that was generously poured. The fish was perfectly prepared, very moist and flaking apart as you placed your fork into it. This restaurant comes highly recommended and is open until September 30th.
Walking around the waterfront, the downtown of Woody Point, seeing the historic buildings it something that just makes this place a must visit location. The Merchant Warehouse is a lovely place for pub grub and usually evening entertainment. There is a classic diner on site and the Legion is next door. Studios, craft shops, coffee shops and general business seem to keep growing. Including Gros Morne Summer Music, Woody Point Writer’s Festival and the performances that take place as Woody Point Theatre. This Town has a lot going on day or night and likely was a reason there was no accommodations available. Be sure to book early if you wish to stay here and many places on the island of Newfoundland and Labrador. Tourism is growing in numbers!
Norris Point – Overnight
I love Norris Point, it is home to the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival, which kicks off the season in early May. I was fortunate to get two nights at Neddie’s Harbour Inn. The view is just spectacular and it truly is the perfect getaway.
The first two images below is that of Jenniex House, a heritage home and the view of Norris Point as you enter. It truly is breathtaking. I love the vibe here, including the Voice of Bonne Bay (VOBB) Community Radio. There are pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, boat tours, adventures, craft shops, Bonne Bay Marine Station and so much more.
The final 4 images are the view from Neddie’s Harbour Inn and some great eats at the Black Spruce Restaurant at the same location. It has a view of the Tablelands and the Appalachian Mountains of either site. The view, atmosphere and food is all of the highest quality. It’s no wonder they were a focus of Air Canada’s En Route Magazine.
I pack a lot in a one-day adventure in Gros Morne. If you have more time, you may want to space out your activities over several days. There are many great walking and hiking trails and places to visit that make for a unique experience.
I look forward to sharing more of my experiences on the Great Northern Peninsula and across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador with regular postings. Follow me on twitter @MitchelmoreMHA
Live Rural NL,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador