When I knocked on my friends’ door in St Peter’s, I discovered that they were away, so I left them a note (I later had a nice chat with them anyway when they telephoned in the evening). Since I had plenty of time, I decided to drive back to Mabou on the West Bay Highway, which leads from St Peter’s (where it’s officially Pepperell Street) to near Dundee (where it changes name to Dundee Road) before arriving in the hamlet of West Bay. This is not the road to take if you are in a hurry, as it winds along the base of South Mountain (a different one from the better known South Mountain in Victoria County along and over which the Cabot Trail passes) and along the southern shores of the Bras d’Or Lake and its southwestern arm, West Bay, which is the glory of this drive, offering some fine views if you but stop and savour them.
Unfortunately, the weather hadn’t improved any from Point Michaud and it remained warm enough that the warmed air hitting the snow picked up a considerable amount of fog and haze, which discouraged me from taking as many winter photos of the area as I had hoped to get and which severely compromised many of the shots I did take. As I was nearing Dundee, however, I noticed some ice fishermen out on the waters of what the maps call Dunpheys Cove, a sheltered inlet behind Dunpheys Head. Since the fog and haze had lessened considerably from what they were earlier in the drive, I stopped and snapped a few photos. Photo #1 is of MacRae Island, which sits out in West Bay due west of the cove. At the left of this photo, you can see against the dark of the trees the aluminum masts of sailboats in winter storage at the marina at Dundee. The aforementioned hamlet of West Bay sits, in this view, behind MacRae Island and is obscured by it.
As I was looking at the scene, I noticed a flock of Canada geese swimming in the waters just off the edge of the ice, seen photo #2, with North Mountain (again, a different one from the much better known North Mountain in Victoria County) rising in the far distance above the lower mass of the headland ending in MacKenzies Point north of the hamlet. I was rather surprised to see so much open water in West Bay, as other parts of the Bras d’Or Lake system I saw were frozen over and snow-covered; I have no idea why there is so little ice here. The open fields one can see in these two photos are snow-covered, though the snow on MacRae Island is pretty thin.
After arriving in West Bay, I took the Marble Mountain Road, which circles around North Mountain to Valley Mills and on to Orangedale, always a pretty drive; in the summer time, the leaves get in the way of the views, but in the winter, the sight lines are clear, or would have been were it not for the fog and haze. I stopped at the look-off on the edge of the hamlet of Marble Mountain for the obligatory photo shoot there—it offers spectacular views, both from the look-off itself and from the mountain road one finds between the two churches in the centre of the hamlet, as seen here, here, and here—but the photos I took there of the islands were too obscured by the fog hovering over the water to include here, coming out as studies in shades of grey. So, in their place, I have chosen a photo of the pretty hamlet itself, clad in a mantle of white. Again, note the open water, which here comes to the very shore itself.
I also stopped outside Valley Mills for some photos of the River Denys Basin, which was ice-covered, but, like those at the Marble Mountain look-off, they too were much too grey and dimmed by the fog and haze hanging above the snow cover to merit inclusion here.