Exploring Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula
Exploring Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula
Before leaving the area around Rocky Harbour, and heading up the Great Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland, there were a couple of additional trails calling our names. Near Lomond, Southeast Brook Falls required a short hike through a balsam fir and white birch forest.
An easy gravel path winds through the woods and then breaks free of the trees at the top of a billion-year-old wall of granite. Several cascades plunge over the 70-foot high precipice of Southeast Brook Falls, in Gros Morne National Park.
Bob and I explored some unmarked footpaths to attain different perspectives of the falls. They were quite impressive and worth the one-kilometre walk in and back.
The amount of fresh water in Newfoundland is staggering. All along the highway, springs gurgle to the surface, vigorous streams give rise to many waterfalls, lakes are too numerous to count, and there are bogs pockmarked with ponds. Is it any wonder that wildflowers such as this Marsh Marigold thrive there in the spring?
The second trail worth investigating is the Stanleyville Trail also in Gros Morne National Park. Bob and I thought it would be interesting to explore the site of a now-deserted logging town.
Located on the coast to facilitate the shipment of logs and lumber, Stanleyville meant a more vigorous hike up and over a headland to reach Payne’s Cove.
Not much is left of the once bustling community, only rusted remnants of machinery, but information boards gave us some interesting historical facts.
In the 1800s, white pine was cut for sailing ship spars, and a sawmill was built by the McKie brothers in 1899. The community was still a logging hub until about 1950.
The following day, Bob and I had to cover 372 kilometres to reach our next destination, L’Anse aux Meadows at the top of the Great Northern Peninsula. With umpteen quaint fishing villages along the way, we had planned for several stops.
Port Saunders on the Great Northern Peninsula got our business when it came time to fill up the gas tank. It is home of a burgeoning fishing industry. At the local boat repair, the yard was packed full of huge fishing boats awaiting modifications.
The previous year, because of a higher number of violent storms, the fleet of trawlers was only able to go to sea 14 times for mackerel, the preferred catch there.
A little further along the coast, in Eddie’s Cove, masses of colourful pop bottles caught our eye where they lay in sharp contrast next to weather-worn wooden sheds. Local fishermen had spray-painted hundreds of these bottles fluorescent orange. Strung on ropes, they are used as buoys to mark their traps.
In other cases, the bottles had been bundled into nets, with maybe 10-20 in each, and then utilized as floats for some other purpose. Bob and I thought this was ingenious! Talk about recycling and reusing!
The Long Range Mountains were far behind us when we stopped for an impromptu picnic choosing a spot near roadside garden plots. The terrain is so rocky and barren, much like Arctic tundra, that local people use any available pockets of fertile soil to cultivate a garden.
The plots stood out because of the elaborate techniques employed to keep the moose and caribou at bay.
In one community, a local trapper had animal pelts stretched on frames to cure in the sunshine.
As we drove further north on the Great Northern Peninsula, the landscape became ever more bleak.
Extremely rocky, barren hills and seaside cliffs dominated the terrain.
Low-growing and sparse vegetation dot the landscape creating its own kind of beauty.
Before heading to Gunner’s Cove and L’Anse aux Meadows, a detour was made to the much-touted St. Anthony. Two young moose were grazing roadside at the edge of town.
We were charmed by some quaint buildings where the land meets the sea in St. Anthony. I think it was the red and white colour scheme that stirred nostalgic thoughts of the 1950s.
A few trails lead out to the end of the point where, despite the calm day, thunderous waves came crashing ashore.
What another unique location! Small rocky islands spot the coves along the route with rock-strewn tidal pools right at roadside.
The Vikings must have chosen this area because it is very protected from the Atlantic Ocean. Countless coves created by the jutting points and peninsulas create ideal safe havens.
Bob and I couldn’t resist the temptation to drive on to L’Anse aux Meadows for a sneak peak ahead of our planned tour of the historic sight the next morning. This primitive stone and sod house has passed the test of time.
When finally Bob and I located our lodging for the night, it pleased us greatly! We would be occupying this 70-year old seaside abode for a couple of days.
At the bottom of the steep gravel driveway are two white clapboard houses right at the edge of the ocean. Ours, Wavey’s House, was the smaller of the two.
Bob and I were barely installed in our cottage when we got wind of a small iceberg in a nearby community.
Daylight prevailed so we headed to Ship Cove, and en route, no less than 10 moose were spotted. By the time we reached the Cove at 10 p.m., dusk was upon us, but the iceberg was still visible. By 11 o’clock, we were grateful to enter the warm, inviting atmosphere of our cottage where the rhythmic sound of waves lapping against the shore soon lulled us to sleep.
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