After the obligatory stop for photos on the Whycocomagh Road at the guard rails along the Indian River, where the fall colours are invariably superb (one of those photos appears on the last page of this essay), I turned left on to the Trans-Canada Highway in Whycocomagh and drove north past Baddeck to the Baddeck Bay Look-Off. Alas, the views from the look-off itself are now completely blocked by vegetation, but, if one parks there and walks five minutes to the northeast along the highway, one will come to the very fine views of the Great Bras d’Or Lake, Baddeck Bay, and the surrounding mountains seen in the photos on this page.
I have often said it before, but it bears repeating: the Trans-Canada Highway is one of Cape Breton’s under-appreciated glories. Along its entire length, as it passes by and sometimes over the most scenic of mountains and fields and lakes and streams, it is beautiful from start to finish. Like the Cabot Trail, it is well worth a drive in its own right, just to enjoy its fine views. Yet, unlike the Cabot Trail, which has plenty of fine look-offs all along its length, the Trans-Canada Highway has but three from start to end and one of those, at Baddeck Bay, has been allowed to become overgrown to the point of rendering it unscenic!
The clear blue skies at Glencoe Mills have given way here to considerably more cloud cover, especially over the water, with some haze in the distance, though the sun continues to shine brightly. In photo #1, Baddeck Bay is along the near shore and the Great Bras d’Or Lake is out beyond the points in the middle ground: the one at the left is where Beinn Bhreagh comes down to the water (Red Head is on the other side of the point seen here, out of view); the ones at the right are MacKay Point and sticking out further behind it, Burnt Point, both on the northeast end of the Washabuck Peninsula. The topographical map gives no name to the prominences on the Washabuck Peninsula, but designates the mountain on the far shore nearest to it as Rory Charlies Mountain, behind Christmas Island. The prominence to the left of centre is unnamed on the topographical maps; it and the hills to the left on the far shore form part of the Boisdale Hills, which lines St Andrews Channel as it heads north to the Little Bras d’Or Channel.
Photo #2 is a better view of Beinn Bhreagh, where the Bells made their summer home, and of Baddeck Bay in the middle ground. Unlike photo #1, where the foliage has very little colour, clear signs of change are evident in photo #2, though they have obviously only just begun to change.
Photo #3 looks to the rear of Baddeck Bay, the place where the colours are brightest (and oh, that beautiful blue water reflecting the sky!). The red tree in the foreground is already well along and others on the far shore would likely be as brilliant were one to venture there (I didn’t have the time to).
Turning even further to the northeast, the view in photo #4 is of a portion of the continuous ridge which runs northeast to southwest from Cape Dauphin to Beinn Bhreagh, a geographical feature I have dubbed the Great Bras d’Or Massif in honour of the Great Bras d’Or Channel, which runs along its eastern edge. Clearly, the change in the colours has reached this massif, though much of the foliage remains green. Fall is clearly nigh!