Views of Middle Head

Keltic Lodge from Beach Crossing Road
[#1] Photo 39 of 132: Keltic Lodge from Beach Crossing Road
Taken 2011 March 4 in Ingonish Beach from the Beach Crossing Road along South Bay Ingonish
1.3 km (0.8 mi) east of its junction with the Cabot Trail
GPS 46°38.376'N 60°23.448'W

Photo #1 looks across South Bay Ingonish from Beach Crossing Road in Ingonish Beach to the Keltic Lodge on Middle Head, a long and fairly narrow headland that separates North Bay Ingonish from South Bay Ingonish. Opened in 1940, the Keltic Lodge offers fine cuisine in a resort and spa atmosphere with gorgeous views of the Ingonish area from Middle Head. Nightly entertainment at the Keltic Lodge features Cape Breton musicians. As photo #2 implies, the Keltic Lodge is not open year round; its season in 2011 runs from May 21 to October 22. Within walking distance of the Keltic Lodge at the western end of Middle Head is the highly-rated one-of-a-kind Highland Links Golf Course, offering 18 holes in an awe-inspiring location—the first course in Atlantic Canada to win the designation of “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary”—and has been restored to its original design by Stanley Thompson in the Scottish tradition. Parks Canada operates the Highland Links Golf Course, which is on land that is part of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, as is Middle Head itself, though the Keltic Lodge is currently operated by a contractor and not by Parks Canada itself.

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Close-up of Keltic Lodge
[#2] Photo 40 of 132: Close-up of Keltic Lodge
Taken 2011 March 4 in Keltic Lodge from before the Middle Head Trail parking lot
GPS 46°39.342'N 60°22.578'W
Middle Head and Ingonish Island from Ingonish Ferry
[#3] Photo 41 of 132: Middle Head and Ingonish Island from Ingonish Ferry
Taken 2011 March 4 in Ingonish Ferry from the Cabot Trail near the Castle Rock Inn
GPS 46°37.604'N 60°22.674'W

Middle Head, seen in photos #2 and #3, is the site of the Middle Head Trail, which runs from the trail head parking lot east of the Keltic Lodge to the eastern end of Middle Head. Since the Trail is operated by Parks Canada, you are welcome to use it even if you are not staying at the Keltic Lodge, though you do need the park visitor’s pass. The Trail loops back about halfway out; the common continuation takes one to the very end of the headland, where, at the appropriate times of the year, you will find huge colonies of nesting birds on Steering Island, to the north of Middle Head across a narrow gap of water (and not visible in either of these photos). Interpretive panels along the Trail describe the lives of some of the early settlers of the region and the trades and crafts they employed. But it is the awesome views in all directions, especially of the imposing Cape Smokey to the south and the Cape Breton Highlands to the west, that hold the greatest attraction for me.

As one descends Smokey Mountain going towards Ingonish, you will eventually come to a fairly sharp 90° turn to the left high above at the edge of South Bay Ingonish; the Castle Rock Inn, one of the few in the Ingonish area to be open year round, sits on this superb location, from which there are fine views. It was from there that photo #3 was taken. This area is known as Ingonish Ferry, as there was once a ferry from the shore below that traversed the mouth of Ingonish Harbour across to Ingonish Beach. This site is high enough that you can see Ingonish Island beyond Middle Head at the edge of North Bay Ingonish and there are equally fine views to the west. The height at the far left of this photo is the continuation of that seen at the far right of photo #1.

Photo #4, taken from the much lower vantage point of Ingohish Beach, shows the eastern tip of Middle Head, with its sides clad in snow. From the much larger original, I judge that most of the spots of white in the water are clumps of incipient ice, though there are also a few white caps interspersed among them, particularly towards the right side of the photo, where there is less protection from Cape Smokey. According to the topographical map, the top of the eastern end of Middle Head is above 20 m (66 ft) in height; the higher section at the far left of photo #3 rises to above 60 m (200 ft).

Middle Head from Beach Crossing Road
[#4] Photo 42 of 132: Middle Head from Beach Crossing Road
Taken 2011 March 4 in Ingonish Beach from the Beach Crossing Road along South Bay Ingonish
1.3 km (0.8 mi) east of its junction with the Cabot Trail
GPS 46°38.376'N 60°23.448'W