Exploring off the beaten track

Keith &
Keith & Heather Nicol
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Making the rounds on the Baie Verte Peninsula

We were heading east from Corner Brook on the Trans-Canada Highway dodging a caravan of airstream trailers and trucks as we approached the turnoff for the Baie Verte Peninsula (Highway 410).

But once we headed north on Highway 410 the traffic vanished. By the time we arrived in Baie Verte, 40 minutes later, we had seen only a handful of cars.

It was early August 2011 and we decided this was the summer to head to places in the province we had not previously explored. Earlier we had made our first ever trip to the Connaigre Peninsula where we enjoyed the Conne River Powwow which we wrote about in the Telegram on July 19.

Our current visit to the Baie Verte Peninsula was just our second in the 30 years we have lived here, so we felt we had some catching up to do.

Fleur de Lys and the ancient

paleo­eskimo soapstone quarry was our first stop. At the quarry you can view unfinished vessels still in position in the rock face. Paleoeskimos used this soapstone to create pots and lamps between 1,200 and 1,800 years ago. There is even evidence that Maritime Archaic Indians used the site about 4,000 years ago.

Not only is the quarry site impressive, the museum next door has lots of good information about the paleoeskimos who lived here and how they quarried the soapstone. While we were at the museum we asked one of the employees about the hiking trails in the area and she mentioned that she had hiked them that morning and they were all in great shape.

For those interested in a shorter hike, the Fleur de Lys lookout trail is just 250 metres (one way) from the quarry (50 07.197 N and 56 07.505 W) and leads to a lookout platform with a view overlooking the community. For a longer hike, the Spotted Point Trail is two kilometres (one way). It traverses out to a rocky headland where you can get views of dramatic cliffs and icebergs in season.

The route travels over open terrain in many places and there are benches and picnic tables along the way so you can rest or have a snack.

I would allow about one hour to complete this hike, depending on how long you linger at the lookouts. We saw an iceberg in an adjacent bay and a smaller one well out to sea when we did the hike in early August.

You might want to phone the museum at 709-253-2126 to get an update on the iceberg situation. Also close by is the Ocean View Trail and it is just 500 metres long (one way). The trail head is at a parking lot at 50 07.047 N and 56 07.422 W and there is a large sign at the trailhead so you can ‘t miss it.

The lookout platform at the end gives views out to the open ocean. Also we noted an abundance of wildflowers at the start of this trail (we counted a dozen different species and we aren’t botanists.)

For anyone interested in hiking and history, Fleur de Lys is well worth a visit.

We then headed for La Scie at the far eastern end of the Baie Verte Peninsula. We started our visit there at The Outport Museum and Tea Room where we tucked into a delicious meal of fishcakes and crab au gratin.

The cook and waitress, Valerie Whalen told us that the Tea Room had been listed in “Where to eat in Canada” since 2006.

“We specialize in home cooked Newfoundland style meals” Valerie told us. Then her husband Larry wandered in and said they were going to play some music in the “kitchen” of the museum and would we like to join them.

“Sounds perfect to us” we chimed in so we joined a handful of other visitors for an impromptu kitchen party. Before long the group had us up playing the spoons and the ugly stick and everyone had a grand time. What an introduction to La Scie.

The next day we returned to the museum to get an update on the history and what hiking trails we might check out.

“La Scie was named for the ragged hills that look like a saw blade” Larry Whalen told us. Evidently Martin de Hoyarsabol gave it this name when he was describing the sailing directions for this port in 1579.

There are also many interpretative signs around the community describing important aspects of it’s history. He also told us to be sure to go the Basques Lookout (49 58.130 N and 55 36.304 W) to check out the amazing viewpoints.

This area has some of the most rugged and scenic coastline we have seen in the province.

If you like hiking then try the Boone’s Hill Trail (49 57.644 N and 55 35.324 W) which gives a superb view of La Scie and its harbour. This trail is just under one kilometre (one way), but has many steps leading to the lookout platform.

Allow about 30-45 minutes for the return walk depending on how many pictures you take.

This is just one great hiking trail in the area so ask at the museum for other ideas if you like to walk.

‰ Where to stay: We enjoyed staying at Roger’s Bed and Breakfast (709-675-2505). Gord and Norma Rogers are great hosts with lots of suggestions about where to explore in the local area. We also met Celeste Colbourne who has started the Fair Haven Retreat Bed and Breakfast (709-293-2976) and she also offers weaving, spinning and rug hooking demonstrations. The Outport Museum and Tea Room can be reached at 709-675-2720.

Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol are avid explorers of Newfoundland from their base in Corner Brook and Keith can be reached at knicol@swgc.mun.ca.

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway, The Outport Museum

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Fleur de Lys, Baie Verte La Scie Newfoundland Canada

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