In 2010, I heard from a correspondent who asked for permission to use some photos I had taken of the Baddeck Inlet; her family had lived on the Bentinck Farm along the Baddeck River and she was looking for photos of the area to use in a memoir she was putting together to celebrate her mother’s 83rd birthday. When she found out I didn’t have any photos from the Big Farm Road, she suggested I explore that road, which I had previously seen but hadn’t yet ventured down. I did so for the first time this summer, when I found some very fine views indeed towards the end of the road; my thanks to her for the very fine suggestion.
The northeastern end of Big Farm Road is 0.8 km (0.5 mi) beyond the bridge on the Old Margaree Road heading towards Baddeck; a right turn takes one to the southwest above and south of the Baddeck River Valley for a distance of 4 km (2.5 mi) to the current end of the road (at one time, it apparently continued further to above a part of the Baddeck River the topographical map labels as Back Bay). It was from a few metres/yards before the end of the road that the photos on this page were taken.
Photo #1 shows the Cape Breton Highlands lying under the warm sun of this beautiful day beneath a mantle of fall colours. Even some bright reds are seen in the near distance and they likely have mates beyond where the distance has blurred the colours together. There can be no question that fall has arrived here! The fields in the foreground, clearly touched by hard frost, contrast starkly with the green field in the centre in the middle distance. And the blue sky, reflected in the waters of the Baddeck River, adds the final touch of perfection to this lovely scene.
The prominence in the centre is Macmillan Mountain; Crowdis Mountain is at the far right of the photo. Highland Road (which Google Maps labels as Crowdis Mountain Road on its southwestern end) traverses the Highlands south of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, starting at the left of Macmillan Mountain where the Cabot Trail climbs up past Hunters Mountain just before it starts down again into Middle River, passing on the far side of Macmillan and Crowdis Mountains, and continuing north all the way to the Chéticamp Flowage just south of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Most of Highland Road is also designated as snowmobile trail SNS 104, the main north-south snowmobile route in Cape Breton. I drove this road, in generally good condition for the southern two-thirds of its length because of its use by logging trucks and easily car-driveable further, to about 11 km (6.8 mi) south of the Chéticamp Flowage, when I turned east onto SNS 755 and drove, over a pothole-strewn route in very poor shape, down off the Highlands into Wreck Cove. It was a very interesting trip and one I recommend, but, should you attempt it, take a GPS and the Cape Breton Highlands Snowmobile Trail Guide, start with a full tank of gas, and be well-prepared for emergencies — you are a long ways from the nearest help up there! Plenty of logging roads branch off Highland Road at various points; should you encounter any dubious stretch of road, turn back: you certainly don’t want to get mired in mud, as happened to a couple of hunters there in 2010.
Photo #2 is a close-up view of the Baddeck River — the topographical map labels it as Big Farm Pool, a salmon-fishing hole, apparently. The fall colours here are seen from closer up, revealing reds here and there in the forest; the greyish-white remains of a number of dead spruce are very noticeable along the banks of the river — scarcely any place in Cape Breton has escaped this terrible scourge. The strange (to me, anyway) reddish-green-brown hue of the bushes that runs across the entire width of photo #1 can be seen here close up and resolved into its component contributors. The utility line beyond the river marks the course of the Old Margaree Road on its way towards Baddeck Bridge (to the right of the photo and outside its scope).
Photo #3 looks further to the north; Macmillan Mountain is at the left and the full extent of Crowdis Mountain is seen in the centre and the right above the Baddeck River valley. The Uisge Bàn Falls Picnic Park lies near the far right edge of Crowdis Mountain: Falls Brook tumbles off the mountain down into the gully below, creating the beautiful cascade seen there. The clouds are dappling the sides of the Highlands with their shadows, but the mantle of colour, brightest at their feet, clearly now extends up their flanks as well.
Lovely scene in a lovely place! My thanks again to the correspondent who suggested I visit it.