Saturday, 25 June 2011

Hiking and Boating near Corner Brook, Newfoundland

by Keith and Heather Nicol

Hiking the new Southhead Lighthouse trail
Corner Brook, Newfoundland is well located for all kinds of outdoor activities. Recently we took part in 2 that are certainly noteworthy. On Thursday night (June 23) over 20 of us braved some cool temperatures to head out on the water with Crystal Waters Boat Tours, based out of the Bay of Islands Yacht Club in Curling. We left at 6:30 pm and toured out along the south shore almost to Frenchman's Head and then crossed over to McIvers to sail back along the north shore of the Bay of Islands. The Blow me down Mountains still had abit of snow and the Weebol Island had its characteristic cloak of cloud at the top. We always enjoy seeing a familiar landscape from the water since it gives such a different perspective. This boat tour sails daily from the July 1 onward but is doing tours now if the there are enough people. We saw no whales on this trip they have been seeing quite a few minke whales up close so you never know. Check out for more information.     

Walking back down with Little Port Head in the distance
       On Saturday, June 25, 2011  the weather cooperated for a great hike to an overview of South Head Lighthouse near Bottle Cove on the south shore of the Bay of Islands.  This is a new trail developed by the Outer Bay of Islands Enhancement Committee (OBIEC) and provides excellent views of Weebol Island as well as this rugged coastline. The trail is around 5 km return and it took our large group of 20 plus hikers around 3 hours and 15 minutes to do the entire hike, including a lunch break.It is well marked and starts at a large parking lot which is above the Bottle Cove Day Use area. The coordinates of the parking lot are 49 07.264' N and 58 24.387' W (you can hike up from the Bottle Cove parking area which adds about 1 km to the total trip). The trail climbs steeply in places but the great vistas are your reward. As you can see from the photos the views are very impressive.This is another great trail by the OBIEC who have created many of the fine trails in this area. For other trails that they done see my web page at:          

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The "A Spring in your Step" wraps up and "Iceberg Festival" is next

by Keith and Heather Nicol

Along the shore at Bartlett's Point
Walking the beach at Cedar Cove
    The "Spring in your Step" Festival ended on Sunday, June 12 under sunny skies and with many people taking in the Cedar Cove hike. Over 20 people walked from Little Port to Cedar Cove and had a perfect day for walk. The festival started with an introduction to geocaching and interpretative walk at scenic Bartlett's Point on Thursday evening, June 9th.  We even saw a couple of minke whales just off shore which was a first for us--geocaching and whales! The next day was rainy so we all hikes were canceled but in the evening Trent McClellan had a packed crowd at the Bar room in stitches with his comedy show about growing up in Corner Brook. Saturday, June 11 we did the hike to the Man in the Mountain and we had fine views of the Humber Valley from the ridge tops above. We even saw an eagle being pursued by 2 crows, perhaps the eagle got too close to their nest. Sunday was a perfect hiking day with clear skies and a moderate wind and Cedar Cove proved to be the place to be on this late spring day.

     The last of the spring festivals is the Iceberg Festival in the St. Anthony area. It has much to recommend it and we have attended a couple of times in the past. We have usually been able to see whales and icebergs and this is the only place we have had that experience in Newfoundland!  Here is the schedule for the next several days. Also see:

Friday, 3 June 2011

More from the Feather and Folk Nature Festival--May 27-June 5, 2011

On Thursday June 2 we headed off to the Codroy Valley and Port aux Basques for another part of the Feather and Folk Nature Festival. The Codroy Valley is well known as the "best place in the province to see the most variety of birds in the highest densities" especially at this time of year according to Parks Canada "bird person" Darroch Whitaker who was there to give tours and answer questions. We left Corner Brook with a few second thoughts since the weather forecast which was not great-drizzle and showers for the next 3 days. And that is what we got when we arrived at the Wetland Interpretation Centre in the Codroy Valley where there were several people dropping in so see what other people were seeing. There were birders from St John's and Ontario and occasionally the drizzle would let up enough to put up a scope to check out the estuary for birds. Hoping that the next day would bring better weather we headed to Port aux Basques and checked into the very comfortable St. Christopher's Hotel ( we had a very good meal of fresh cod. Then we headed to a conference room which had been transformed into an art gallery and concert hall and enjoyed the music of fiddlers and folk singers from the local area. The main star was Sherman Downey ,who is from the Codroy Valley, and has played at the Olympics in Vancouver and has had ECMA's nominations as well. The goal of the evening was to raise money for the Folk Arts Council which is just getting going in this area. Lets hope this it flourishes since this area has some very good talent.
       Friday was cool and overcast in Port aux Basques but just minutes after we headed for the Codroy Valley the skies cleared up and it was sunny and warm for the rest of the day. There were school groups going through the Wetland Interpretation Centre with guided walks on the Wetland Trail. We saw lots of ducks and a blue heron in the Estuary in front of the centre and there seemed to be birds everywhere as we explored the various side roads in the area. We also ran into Dave Brown (a guide with a group of birders from St John's) who reported that he had seen a Black billed Cuckoo, which is very rarely seen in the province. When you have a day like this you can see why the birds like this area so much. With its mix of forest, farms, wetlands and coastal dunes, the variety of habitats is amazing. There are still a couple more days left of the festival so check out for more information. Who knows what you will see!