I have long known about the marina at Murphys Pond just north of Port Hood and have often driven down there for views of the boats, beaches, and the shore line to the south. However, I was unaware of the look-off beyond the marina close by the shore until a friend sent me some winter photos taken from there. So, this Thursday evening on Canada Day when I happened to be in Port Hood, I drove there to check it out before heading to Glencoe Mills for the square dance.
I drove out past the marina a short distance and saw a road climbing up the hill beyond. I was, correctly as it happened, skeptical of whether I should drive up there or not, so I decided I’d park and take a hike. Except for one bad spot where I’d likely have bottomed out if not worse, the road was in good shape, though I was quite happy to have parked below.
Photo #1 shows the view from the look-off along the shore out to Black Point, the northernmost edge of St Georges Bay, where the shore line turns from slightly west of north to the northeast. The tide was down, exposing some of the gravel and rocks under water at high tide. The close-up of Black Point in photo #2 provides more detail and it looks as if it would be quite feasible, though not easy, to hike out there along the shore, given due consideration to the tides. I’ve added it to my list of things to do.
If one turns in the other direction, the fine views I had from Murphys Pond Road become visible, though they are even better here because they are from higher up. In photo #3, the part of Port Hood village clustered around the churches is seen above the long sandy beach that lines the shore here — Port Hood is rich in beaches: there’s the one along the Murphys Pond Road; another (supervised in the summer) beyond the dunes at the foot of Court Street, the road leading up to the court house (Port Hood is the county seat (shire town) of Inverness County); and a third at the Port Hood Day Park. The church in the centre of the photo is St Peter’s; that just to its right is St Stephen’s; both lie along Main Street.
Photo #4 shows Port Hood Harbour; the line of rocks spanning the entire width of the photo is the remains of a causeway that was intended to reach Port Hood Island (once connected to Cape Breton by a land bridge before it was severed by a storm over 200 years ago) but abandoned before it was completed. Beyond, one can see the quai running out to what once was the main wharf; although now in poor condition, it continues to be used and is an excellent place from which to view the entire Port Hood area. At the left of the photo, the red and white building houses the Al MacInnis Sports Centre & Gym (proudly named for a local boy who had a very successful 23-year career with the NHL, a 15-time All-Star reputed to have the hardest shot in the league at that time), site of the local hockey arena; it hosts many of the large community events in Port Hood, such as the lobster dinner held during the Chestico Days celebration.
The hill rising above the shore line in photo #4 is, so far as I am aware, unnamed. You will notice that the sandy shore ends at the quai; I do not know why, it is interrupted, as it picks up again at the Port Hood Day Park, where, as seen in photo #5, it runs a considerable ways out towards Port Hood Island and then, at Shipping Point, turns down the shore. In this photo, one is looking down the St Georges Bay shore line towards Little Judique. The land seen in the far distance (as a dark blue-grey band) is on mainland Nova Scotia; the Bornish Hills (to which Creignish Mountain belongs) rise inland at the left of the photo.
In addition to the fine views shown here, Murphys Pond Look-Off offers excellent views of Port Hood Island, which, some day, will be the subject of its own essay. I am delighted to have finally discovered this beautiful vantage point, better than Marble Hill, even considering its much greater height, because of its close-to-the-shore location and lack of telephone wires. I am sure I will be returning here often in the future.