Enjoy a scenic drive with ocean views, rolling hills, and stops at harbours a distillery and cheese maker. Our road trip today goes in a loop from Antigonish and along the Northumberland Shore.
Start out in Antigonish on Hawthorne Street, to Hwy 245 and at Malignant Cove turn left on Hwy 245 W along the Sunrise Trail. You are now traveling along the ruggedly beautiful Northumberland coast with vistas of the ocean and rural countryside.
At Arisaig turn right at the church down to the busy harbour. The tangy salty sea air and the sound of the gulls and waves surround you while you explore the wharf and views from the Lighthouse. You may see fishermen preparing to go out or on their return with lobsters in the May / June season.The beach at low tide is great for tide pooling and beach combing. Learn more about lobsters at The Lobster Interpretive Centre (July 1- Aug 31). The Dockside Tea Room has lunch pastries and chowder. In the summer season the Lighthouse Canteen will be open for ice cream and souvenirs.
Next stop is the Arisaig Provincial Park. Explore the green forest trails with the clean scents of pine and spruce. The interpretive centre describes the geology and history of the area and has a great view of Arisaig Harbour and the lighthouse. Take the stairs down to the beach and look for fossils dating back millions of years. At low tide you can walk along the beach to the harbour but be careful to check the tide times.
Drop in to Steinhart Distillery and learn how local ingredients such as maple and cranberry are used to make fine vodka. The Steinhart Gin in the blue designer bottle is also available with Haskap. Try this unique flavour. The Distillery is open Monday to Friday 10-6, Saturday and Sunday till noon – 6 till Thanksgiving (2016). The view from Steinharts is spectacular with the Arisaig Harbour and lighthouse. Check out also the chalets with their deck overlooking the coast.
The Red Roof Bed & Breakfast at McArras Brook is a great family place to visit or stay. This solar powered B&B welcomes visitors to drop in and meet the alpacas and donkeys, and to see the apple orchard and home garden. Josie Dessouroux cards, spins, knits and weaves with the Alpaca fleece and is happy to show you the process from the raw fibre to the finished items that she has for sale. The property has beautiful ocean views and a private beach with fossils.
Knoydart Farm is one of only 2 organic dairy farms in Nova Scotia. Family owned by Frazer Hunter, they produce organic Gloucester and Caerphilly cheeses in a variety of flavors including peppercorn, garlic, dill, cumin, chili, smoked, caraway and cranberry and Cheddar. Call ahead to visit 902-867-1305
During your road trip keep an eye out and stop at several Historical Kiosks found in Lismore, Merigomish and Barneys River Station. The plaques have interesting maps, tidbits on the area and historical photographs that will take you back to when these were thriving communities.
After Ponds, turn right to Big Island. The narrow 2KM causeway connects Big Island to the mainland. Walk across the sandy dunes to the long sandy and pebble beach – perfect for beach combing and paddling. Continuing on to the main island you pass through rolling green hills, with views across the inlet, wooded areas and even the occasional deer.
Back on Hwy 245 continue to Merigomish, a picturesque stop with the river, historical plaques and sign for Sunday tea on the old schoolhouse.
At Sutherlands River turn left on HWY 4 for a more scenic drive through rural country, or get on the HWY 104.
At Barneys River Station the one room school house was originally built in 1802. These one room schools were phased out in the 1970s. Read the Historical plaques to find out how Marshy Hope got its name and maps and business listings from the 1800s.
Merge on 104E after James River and take Exit 31 to return to Antigonish to finish the loop drive.