From beyond Red Head to Presqu’Île

From beyond Red Head to Presqu’Île
Photo 3 of 25: From beyond Red Head to Presqu’Île
Taken 2006 August 6 from Lighthouse Road west of Gros Cap on the north end of Chéticamp Island
1.1 km (0.7 mi) from the gate at the lighthouse compound
GPS 46°38.88?'N 61°01.02?'W

I first visited Chéticamp Island in 2002, when I hiked along a trail beginning at the south end that I thought would take me to the lighthouse at the north end, but which dead ended somewhere in the middle of the island in a boggy area. While driving, I had somehow missed Lighthouse Road—hard to understand in retrospect because it’s blazingly obvious—so it was not until this summer that I finally discovered the amazing panoramas that one gets from all along this road but especially from the north end of the Island, once one has ascended the hill there. It is certainly the equal of any panorama on Cape Breton Island, as one can see the mountain ranges at the western coast of Inverness County all the way from Red Head in the north to Sight Point in the south, a total distance of some 77 km (48 mi). I was so struck by the beauty of this scene that I visited it twice this year, once in July when the views were obscured somewhat by haze and this August day when the air was pellucid and the views simply breathtaking.

In this view, the point at the left of the photo is, as best as I can make out, on the north side of Pigeon Cove and is unnamed in The Nova Scotia Atlas. It lies beyond Red Head, presumably so named for its reddish colour, 18 km (11.2 mi) from Gros Cap (Big Headland) on the northeast end of Chéticamp Island. French Mountain (455 m (1493 ft)) is a bit to the right of the middle of the photo, where the Cabot Trail can be seen climbing along its western side until it disappears behind it. Skyline Trail follows the ridge one sees high above the Cabot Trail to the left of and across from French Mountain until it reaches the Gulf, where a series of stairs lead part way down the mountain side, from which the first photograph in this essay was taken. At the right of this photo one can again see Presqu’Île, whose grey cliff at the edge of the water is just to the right of the Cabot Trail segment one sees there. The mountain at the far right of the photo is Jerome Mountain.

The stretch of the Cabot Trail along this coast line has become world-famous and is often used as an emblem of Cape Breton Island itself because it is so beautiful and so photogenic. But, until the day I visited the north end of Chéticamp Island, I had been unable to really see the full range in all of its glory: what one sees here is just a small portion as it extends down the coast as far as the eye can see. What a magnificent view this is! No photo can possibly begin to do it justice; it just has to be seen!