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The Northern Terminus for the IAT is at Cape Raven Trail, Straitsview, NL

The International Appalachian Trail’s Northern Terminus is at Crow Head, Newfoundland and Labrador and can be accessed from the Cape Raven Trail at Straitsview, NL.

Noddy Bay, surveyed by Captain James Cook in 1763

The trail is rated moderate due to some steep sections and takes about 45 minutes to hike and about 20 minutes to the scenic lookout where Captain James Cook is said to have surveyed Noddy Bay in 1763. This famous British cartographer and explorer did much surveying of the Great Northern Peninsula in the mid-1700’s. A cairn of his can be found on Dog Peninsula in Bird Cove in a wonderful walking trail, the Town of Cook’s Harbour bears his name and there are many places in the area named after officers in his crew, like Keppel Island, Hawke’s Bay and Port Saunders.

To find Cape Raven trail you must take the Viking Trail (Route 430) and head north until you reach Route 436 to L’anse aux Meadows. The Cape Raven Trail is about 25 KM down this route and past the community Straitsview. There is a parking area and trailhead signage on the right. If you reach Hay Cove you have passed the trail.

Although the signage notes the trail is about 45 minutes return, the walk can be much longer as it connects to other trails such as Noddy Bay Head Trail and can continue to L’anse aux Meadows as part of the Iceberg Trail. This hike can be up to several kilometres. I opted to create a loop and return via the main road (Route 436) back to my parked vehicle which is a few kilometres and takes about a couple of hours.

You will want to take some time to truly enjoy the panoramic views of the community of Straitsview, the unique topography that is the Northern Terminus for the International Appalachian Trail on the island of Newfoundland and also take in magical views of icebergs, whales, birds and other marine activity.

There is ample resting areas along the way, either a bench, viewing area or picnic table. The trail does have signage, which would be improved upon for visitors to ensure they are aware of the interconnected trail network that makes up the multi-day Iceberg Trail from L’anse aux Meadows to St. Lunaire-Griquet. This is another economic development initiative of St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI).

I look forward to spending more days trekking the trails in this particular region. The coastline just creates an atmosphere that will have you lost in all the beauty you have found.

Add Cape Raven Trail on Crow Head at Straitsview, NL to your must do trail list when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula. When you are done you can head on up to Skipper Hots for some wonderful pub food.

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore

A Quest to Find St. Brendan’s Rock

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

Christopher Mitchelmore

Sculpin Cones & Berry Ice-cream a Specialty at Cafe Nymphe

The Dark Tickle Company of St. Lunaire-Griquet is famous for their use of locally harvested wildberries that create specialty jams and jellies. They have continuously expanded their product line to include teas, coffees, vinegarettes, spreads, chocolate covered berries, sauces and more. This business is an econo-musee, the enables you to watch how their products are manufactured right before your eyes. They also have an incredible gift shop, which is en route to L’anse aux Meadows. It is a must visit tourism establishment when you are visiting the Great Northern Peninsula.

The business also hosts the Grandchain Exhibit, which highlights the French connection to the region.

This exhibit has been transformed from a static display to become the historical cafe. The carrot cake with partridgeberry sauce is to die for and they serve up delicious soups, salads, paninis, pizzas, fish cakes and even Swedish meatballs on their menu. It is truly a trendy place to go to enjoy a great cup of java in summer, or savour some wildberry milkshakes or beverages and great berry infused desserts. They position themselves differently and french fries is not on the menu. It is wonderful to have a variety of great food options during the summer tourism season. On certain days some live music or even recitations would be available to patrons.

The company has remained true to their brand and this past year, they added a new innovative product, called the sculpin cone and various flavours of berry ice-cream. It was nothing short of a being a hit and likely the go to place this summer, especially for locals to have a new and unique experience.

I enjoyed their bakeapple. partridgeberry and blueberry flavours, as well as vanilla. The simple addition of ice-cream proved to be a phenomenal hit for marketing and bringing customers to their venue but also to the Great Northern Peninsula. It’s important that we always look for new ways to be creative, to stand out and to innovate. It was also very fascinating to see so many images surface on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and mainstream media of people proudly holding their sculpin cones and promoting the business and our Great Northern Peninsula as a must visit destination.

The 2020 tourism season was not your typical year in the face of a global pandemic and very stringent travel restrictions. It does give business owners and travellers an opportunity to pause and make some changes to how their business operates and what it can do differently in 2021. The message is simple, it is more imperative than ever to find a way to support your local small businesses.

Be sure to get your sculpin cone and other berry treats at the Dark Tickle Company. If you can’t visit in person, you can always visit their online store and get some great products shipped. We look forward to seeing you and you certainly won’t be disappointed on your visit.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore

Finding (Abandoned) Fortune on the GNP!

The Great Northern Peninsula has a network of incredible hiking trails that pull people to explore Gros Morne National Park, Port au Choix National Historic Site and L’anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Heritage site as anchor areas of attraction. The portion of the peninsula north of Bellburns has more than 80 walking and hiking trails to explore. I set a challenge to complete them all, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of summer I got complete it by finding abandoned Fortune!

The Iceberg Trail is being developed from L’anse aux Meadows to St. Lunaire-Griquet, which connects current community walking trails to create a multi-day trail network. The views and experience is truly remarkable and a gem like the East Coast Trail.

On September 6th we left from Quirpon Tickle and go around the Cobbler to the abandoned community of Fortune. We left 9:30 AM and arrived at noon (8 KM). The trail is well-marked, except at the beginning (you have to go right at Quirpon intersection, passed the community hall and drive to the end of the road and park. The trail is rated as hard on AllTrails, what an incredible experience!

Fortune was a small fishing community nestled between Quirpon and Gunner’s Cove. There remains one family home that is still standing, while others had collapsed. There are some outer buildings and the remains of an old motor in the beach. The community may not have residents currently, but it truly was worth the trek and allowed me to complete my trail challenge.

We picked a spot on a flat rock overlooking the bay and enjoyed our sandwich made with homemade bread and lots of other snacks to refuel our energy levels. There were a few moose, likely looking for their lunch too! After a rest we did a little exploring and even picked up some beach glass before heading to Gunner’s Cove.

We left the abandoned community of Fortune and headed to Gunner’s Cove or Route 436 which was a 5.8 KM trek from Fortune. The trail was clearly marked and skirted along the beach. It would however be difficult to find the beginning from Route 436 as there is no trail marker at roadside. The views along the beach were a lovely contrast to the views of the coastline earlier. There was also one giant rock by a very tall tree, lots of berries, mushrooms and other natural beauty! The rock must have been placed either by giants or glaciers. The trail needs some modest improvements, so that one won’t even get wet feet or bring gear better than sneakers.

The Abandoned Community of Fortune as part of the Iceberg Trail trekking form Quirpon to Gunner’s Cove is 13.8 KM. Without a second vehicle or someone to drop you off or pick you up there is another 3.5 KM of walking back to Quirpon. Thankfully a local stopped and gave me a ride from Gunners Cove back to my car in Quirpon. That type of kindness was the icing on the cake to top off a wonderful day. To celebrate we had Vinland martinis and a Sacred Island Burger at the Norseman Fine Dining Restaurant at L’anse aux Meadows.

We may have even dropped by the Dark Tickle Company in St. Lunaire-Griquet for a sculpin cone and their berry ice-cream for dessert.

The Great Northern Peninsula is full of unique experiences, either in the great outdoors or when supporting a local small business. Be sure to add the abandoned community of Fortune on your list when you plan your journey!

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore #NeverStopExploring

It’s All About Love – The Arches Provincial Park, Great Northern Peninsula

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One can fall in love, over and over again, especially when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador. As you pass ancient fjords of Western Brook, the flat tablelands that feel like you’re walking on Mars, the natural wildlife and the beauty of the ocean, I must recommend you stop with your love and visit The Arches Provincial Park along the Viking Trail (Route 430).

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Ancient limestone carved by the rising tides, have masterfully created the Arches, a natural rock formation worth exploring. The site, contains picnic tables, parking area, washroom and includes a beachside trail leading to the huge rocks. A great place to picnic, take panoramic snapshots and be dazzled by pure natural beauty.

I always enjoy walking under the Arches to experience the roar of the sea. This past trip, was my first on top of them, as the wind blew through my hair, the strength of the ocean could be felt at every turn.

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There is something immensely special about this place. Maybe you too will share in the magic, find that perfect heart and experience that perfect moment. It’s all about love – the Arches Provincial Park.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Live Rural NL,

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Tourism for Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

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