I will begin with a view that has figured in a number of previous essays: it is one which never palls for me and it serves as a good overview of the northwestern corner of Cape Breton along which the immediately following photos will be passing. Taken the day after the boat trip to Polletts Cove from the Meat Cove Road at Black Point, looking northwest, the coast seen in photo #1 is the northern shore of Cape Breton Island: Meat Cove (the water) spans the left two thirds of the photo; Blackrock Point is the nearer point at the right, with the summit of Little Grassy above and to the left (in this view—Little Grassy is actually to the west of Blackrock Point); and Cape St Lawrence is the further point at the right. The village of Meat Cove sits above the water and below the Cape Breton Highlands in one of the most picturesque and pristine locations on the island; as Michael Haynes astutely comments in the second edition of his Hiking Trails of Cape Breton, p. 85, if “Nova Scotia has any community that looks like an alpine village, it is Meat Cove.” Photo #1 is a pretty wide-angled view; the distance from Black Point, where I was standing, to Cape St Lawrence is a little under 5¼ km (3¼ mi) by straight line distance.
Photo #2 is a telephoto view of Cape St Lawrence, taken in the same place as photo #1, and brings the right half of that photo’s area into much sharper focus. Photo #3 is also a telephoto view of the same area, but taken when returning from Polletts Cove at the water level from off Black Point a bit further east of the two previous photos and far enough north to give a view of the coast unblocked by Blackrock Point, which reveals additional details. It is with the view in these two photos that this essay really begins.
The rocks in the foreground of photo #3 are part of Blackrock Point. The grassy slope descending from the Little Grassy summit ends in Little Grassy Point. The highest point at the far left of photo #3 is Bear Hill, which is as convenient a point as any for delimiting Cape St Lawrence from the rest of Cape Breton Island; it is also a geologically sound demarcation, as the Bear Hill Fault Line runs from northeast to southwest along its western base and out to Lowland Point, marked by squiggles on a 1964 Geological Survey Map that can be downloaded free of charge here.
On the topographical map, the height of Bear Hill is seen to be more than 220 m (725 ft); it towers above Cape St Lawrence when seen from the point at the far right of the photo. Bear Hill has two very distinct aspects when viewed from the east and from the west; in this view, from the east, it is the rocky cliff face falling from the summit down to the water level which stands out; from the west, that rocky cliff face is altogether missing and is replaced by a crown of vegetation clinging on for dear life above flanks clad in what appears from a distance to be loose gravel (views from the west will appear later in this essay).
Finally, in photo #3, notice the “slide” (sloping flat rock face) to the left of the cliff face; the bottom triangular “wedge” appears to have broken away from the upper rock formation and fallen into the waters below, but this is only a trick of the perspective: in fact, the “wedge” is well to the east of the “slide”, as will become clear on the next page. This triangular “wedge” is Rhu Pillinn, which, like Bear Hill, takes on a very different aspect when seen from the west (and yet another when seen from the north).