Solo in Cape Breton, Half 1: The Ceilidh Path & Canada’s Musical Coast

Along the Ceilidh Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Alongside the Ceilidh Path in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, and particularly its Cape Breton, is a land steeped in thriller, historical past and a magical magnificence.

My husband Cam and I went to Nova Scotia for 2 weeks after we first obtained married, greater than 20 years in the past, attracted by the uncooked fantastic thing about the mountainous coast and the wildness of the countryside. I keep in mind driving alongside the seemingly countless rolling coast, assembly very nice individuals with cute accents and by no means wanting to depart.

This September I had a chance to discover Nova Scotia once more on a solo street journey. I had some trepidation about going alone, however the lengthy drives throughout this lovely and protected province with two good books on CD proved to be simply what the physician ordered. Taking the CAT ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, saved quite a lot of driving time and was a enjoyable journey in itself. Spending the primary night time on the Rodd Grand Yarmouth supplied me with a very good night time’s relaxation earlier than the seven-hour drive as much as Cape Breton island.

The Ceilidh Trail on Cape Breton

The Ceilidh Path on Cape Breton, on a map

Cape Breton and the Ceilidh Path
Cape Breton is a separate island off the coast of northeastern Nova Scotia that’s wealthy in Scottish and French heritage. It was a spot of worry after the French had been banished to the island, then in the midst of nowhere, as a result of they refused to align with the British Crown and the Protestant Church within the 17oos. In the meantime, it was a land of hope for the Scottish that immigrated after their land was confiscated and their morale crushed after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 (as all Outlander followers know!). The attraction of Cape Breton to the Scottish immigrants additionally included its resemblance of the Scottish Highlands and islands.

Music got here with each teams, and the melding of the 2 types and their accompanying emotion fees made the Cape Breton sound distinctive. Ceilidh (pronounced “Kay-lee”) is the Gaelic phrase for a social gathering that features music and infrequently dance. On Cape Breton, ceilidhs have been a practice for greater than 200 years, ever for the reason that Scots and French first arrived. The islanders at this time take them very critically. The music appears to revolve across the fiddle, and I discovered it inspiring to observe.

The Ceilidh Path begins proper after you cross the bridge onto Cape Breton. It winds its musical method up the west coast of Cape Breton and over to Margaree Forks, the place it connects with the Cabot Path. It might probably take as little as a number of hours however I might recommend lingering and savoring its tastes and sounds.

No Boats on Sunday cider at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

No Boats on Sunday cider on the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

In Cape Breton, someplace, there’s a minimum of one ceilidh each weekend and typically each night time! This and extra I discovered at my first cease on the Ceilidh Path: the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique, the place they serve a correct Cape Breton lunch day by day with a serving to of historical past. I had the Cape Breton fish chowder, a salad with lobster, and a Nova Scotian cider known as No Boats on Sunday. On the Interpretive Centre, there are ceilidhs every single day from June by means of October that includes a Celtic artist from 11am to 2pm.

On the day of my go to, I noticed a musician named Chrissy Crowley, who carried out pretty musical units that transported me to a different time and place. The viewers is inspired to take part by asking questions, dancing and even taking on the fiddle. A gentleman from Quebec did simply that (that’s him on fiddle within the video above)! The venue is intimate and visiting seems like being a visitor in somebody’s home. It’s laborious to sit down nonetheless and be sullen whereas a fiddler is taking part in and the viewers is dancing and actually whooping it up!

Sunset at Hillcrest Hall Country Inn

Sundown at Hillcrest Corridor Nation Inn

After an energy-filled day, I finished to remain in Port Hood at Hillcrest Corridor Nation Inn (from $110 CAD/night time, or roughly $85/night time), a darkish rose 1910 mansion transformed into an 11-room visitor home that sits on a hill throughout a primary street and overlooking St. George’s Bay. I settled into a big visitor room (#1) on the primary flooring with a king-size mattress. After, I met and chatted with some friends having fun with lobster purchased and cooked on the Port Hood Seafood Co-op and a bottle of wine on the wrap-around porch. One other co-op, the Ceilidh Fishermen’s Co-op, sells Mabou oysters. (Mabou is understood for its oysters and lobsters and is true up the coast.) Supervisor Lewis MacDonnell instructed me that the co-op will even open them for you! So Cape Breton! 

Mabou oysters at Clove Hitch

Mabou oysters at Clove Hitch

For dinner, I walked over to the Clove Hitch Bar & Bistro from the Hillcrest Corridor Nation Inn, the place I loved the informal ambiance, Mabou oysters and milky (not creamy) Cape Breton fish chowder with contemporary herbs. The Clove Hitch has a big number of native beers and wines, and typically dwell music.

Glenora Distillery

Glenora Distillery

The following morning I loved a lavish continental breakfast with home made biscuits (the inn even supplied me with the recipe!), muffins, native jams, fruits, and low and Irish tea—a welcome respite after the very lengthy drive of the day prior to this. The September day was heat however breezy, and I checked out Port Hood’s Sundown Seashore and needed to make the leap into the water. It was not chilly; in reality, Port Hood has a repute for having the warmest waters in japanese Canada. It has 5 seashores. As it was late within the season, I had the gorgeous seaside nearly to myself.

From Judique, I traveled east on Route 19 throughout Cape Breton to Glenville to go to the Glenora Distillery, the place North America’s first single-malt whiskey was produced. The distillery is ready on one other slice of heaven, tucked in a valley with rolling hills. And because it’s on the Ceilidh Path…there’s all the time music right here as effectively! You’ll be able to really hear it every single day, twice a day, from a Cape Breton musician June by means of October. There’s simply an incredible quantity of musical expertise on Cape Breton! I finished by with my pal Mark and loved a tasting within the lovely backyard. The distillery shouldn’t be overcrowded and harkens again to a less complicated time. Subsequent go to, I’ll keep in considered one of Glenora’s on-site rooms or cottages.

Glenora Distillery, on a slice of heaven

Glenora Distillery, on a slice of heaven

The Competition of Celtic Colours: October 5-13
Beginning at this time, there will probably be nearly round the clock ceilidhs for the nine-day Competition of Celtic Colours, which can even embrace day by day workshops and the favored, casual after-hours occasions for musicians and competition attendees.

On October 6 is “Behind the Music” with fiddler Glenn Graham. Glenn is a widely known fiddler, a college professor and the creator of “The Cape Breton Fiddle: Making & Sustaining Custom.” He’ll give a chat on what makes Cape Breton’s Celtic music distinctive, clarify how the thoughts of a fiddler/piano participant works when selecting tunes on the fly, and what makes for good “swing” at a dance. He’ll additionally take viewers questions.

You’ll be able to stream all of it dwell right here.

In Half 2, subsequent week: I proceed my solo drive round Cape Breton to jaw-dropping fantastic thing about the Cabot Path.

Georgie Jet

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