Photo #1 looks backward from Western Gun Landing Cove Head at the entrance to Louisbourg Harbour, after some of the morning’s fog had cleared, though plenty still remains in this photo. Louisbourg Lighthouse is at the far right. The spire of the chapel in the King’s Bastion at Fortress Louisbourg is seen across the harbour about a quarter of the way in from the left. Lighthouse Point is in the middle of the photo and Battery Island, in the middle of the entrance to Louisbourg Harbour, is at the left of the photo. This is a wild, rough, rocky coast, of great scenic beauty, battered constantly by wind and waves rolling in off the Atlantic, although this was a fairly calm day.
Photo #2 looks dead on back at the Louisbourg Lighthouse from a short distance down the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail. The current lighthouse is the third lighthouse constructed on Lighthouse Point, having been built in 1923 and commissioned in 1924; the lighthouse was automated and de-staffed in 1989. The French built the first lighthouse here in 1731-1734 and began operating it in 1734; it was the first lighthouse to be established in Canada and the second on the North American continent (the first one was in Boston in 1716). The British damaged it severely during the second siege of Louisbourg and the lighthouse was then abandoned as beyond repair. The second lighthouse on this site was completed in 1842 and served until it was destroyed by fire in 1922. The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society’s web pages for Louisbourg, starting here, contain much more information about this historic lighthouse.
Photo #3 looks to the left of the lighthouse at the structures near the northern end of Lighthouse Point. At the left is the tower for the very powerful foghorn: it is unwise to approach it closely on a foggy day like this as the sound is dangerously loud when the foghorn is sounding. On a clear day, a good view of the Harbour entrance and its islands is to be had from the top of the knoll to the right of the foghorn tower.
Photo #4 looks into the waters below the trail at the entrance to a small cove. A large family of ducks, nine ducklings and their parents, are seen swimming at the right. The floats in the water further out mark lobster traps serviced by the fishermen who ply these waters.
Photo #5 shows a cliff beside the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail that, on the early occasions I’ve hiked this trail, I have always wanted to reach the top of, but saw no way. In 2011, I discovered, at the far right, a roots and rock side trail that leads up to the top where I was surprised to also find a park bench. Even on a foggy day, the views from there were excellent; on a clear day, they would be fantastic! The side trail requires a bit of care, especially on the way down, but is doable even for an old geezer like myself.
Photo #6 shows the view to the north from the top of the cliff. The headland in the foreground is Western Gun Landing Cove Head, where a loop trail circles the headland; parts of it can be seen at the left foreground and in the centre in the middleground. As you can see, this is a fine hard-surfaced trail wide enough for two abreast and stroller friendly for those with small children. Gun Landing Cove is the water immediately on the other side of the Head. In spite of it being a relatively calm day, notice the waves splashing on the headland left of centre and along the further shore right of centre.
Photo #7 shows a stand of gnarled trees that line this short stretch of the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail. I do not know why they are lacking their lower branches; if they were cut off, it was some time ago, well before the trail was built. With the salt spray blown ashore by the winds, it is no wonder these tress are not doing well, but hardy they are and still standing as best they can.
When it reaches Western Gun Landing Cove Head, the trail splits into two; one segment follows along the Atlantic coast, whilst the other continues straight across the Head. Both sections meet, forming a loop, at the shores of Gun Landing Cove. Photo #8 was taken from near the middle of the coastal segment, looking at the rocks seen on the Head. Although some parts of the western coast of Cape Breton show bare rock such as seen here, as along the coast west of Meat Cove leading out to Cape St Lawrence, much of that coast has cliffs of sand/soil/rubble intermixed with rocks and green, whether of grasses or trees, is normally readily visible along them; the same is true of other parts of the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton as well, both to the south and to the north. But at Louisbourg and north to Big Lorraine, the wild, bare rocks, bereft of any soil or vegetation, predominate. It’s definitely worth the trip to see and explore this beautiful coast!
Photo #9, taken at the eastern end of the coastal segment, looks out at another rock, this one now an islet separated from the Head, on which five birds are sitting, four cormorants and a gull. In the original, I can make out six floats marking lobster pots around this islet, though three of them are hard to see through the fog against the water in this reduced-size version.
Photo #10, also taken at the eastern end of the coastal segment, looks inland towards the cobblestone beach at the head of Gun Landing Cove. The trail is seen in the foreground at the right, here covered with a fine crushed stone surface for walking and lined with dandelions gone to seed. The trail continues on towards the head of the cove and then loops back towards the lighthouse. At that point, you will see another trail which leads to the cobblestone beach; after crossing that beach, it enters the forest and continues on to Lorraine Head, a magnificent walk along the coast on a fine day (but beware of foggy days like this one—it would be easy to lose one’s way if the fog were thick over the shore and the rocks can be slippery when wet).
Photo #11 looks across Gun Landing Cove at the cliffs on Eastern Gun Landing Cove Head. The sun is attempting to clear the fog that obscures both the rocks at the shore and the forest behind, so far with only middling success. In the upper left of the photo, you can see the rails of one of the viewing platforms along the trail to Lorraine Head. This trail follows the coast and traverses cobblestone beaches with lots of ups and downs, but also many fantastic coastal views, especially from some of the headlands further east. This trail is not suitable for very young children, but fine for pre-teens and older who have a well-developed fear of falling; see my fuller description of this hike here.
Photo #12 was taken from the inland segment on the return. The outer, coastal trail can be seen lined with stones on the other side of the water in the bog that separates the two sections of the loop. This is very typical of the inland terrain along this coast, wet and boggy and very fragile. Green Island is the island at the centre of the photo.