Perhaps in anticipation of 2020 being Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters we spent our annual holidays this year in Newfoundland. Normally we go in search of some sun and warmth (plus mountains) when we have time off towards the end of the year but in 2019 we decided to mix it up for a change. Newfoundland is a large island off the east coast of mainland Canada. Scotland is further north but because of the Gulf Stream it is actually warmer. That meant that even in late September/early October “Newfie” was a pretty chilly place. Needless to say, the winters there are pretty harsh.
It’s also not as touristy as Scotland and most of the people who do visit had long since disappeared by the time we arrived. That meant that although a lot of B&Bs, cafes and restaurants had closed for the season we had most of the trails to ourselves. It also made it easier to chat with some very friendly locals who had plenty of time to spare for us.
Like all our holidays, we tried to stay active and had a good mix of mountain, coastal and forest walks. The highest point on the island is only 814m and there is a lot of forest cover but there was still plenty of uphill walking to do since most walks start pretty much at sea level. The higher points had a definite sub-arctic feel – a bit like the Cairngorm plateau.
The coastal scenery was even more impressive and we really enjoyed the views of cliffs, sea stacks, offshore islands and lighthouses. Historically almost the entire population lived in small fishing communities and you can see the distinctive and brightly coloured local style of wooden houses all over the island. In the summer the waters are teeming with whales (we did see a couple of Minke) and a bit earlier in the season the north coast is famous for viewing icebergs which drift down from Greenland. We were a bit too late for the ice (although it was pretty snowy and icy at the summit of Gros Morne Mountain) but it had us vowing to see more of Scotland’s spectacular coastline next year.
At the end of the trip we had a very enjoyable outing to an ice hockey match in the capital St John’s. After that it was time to get back to Saddle Mountain Hostel and start work on a few improvements which we have lined up to do over the winter. Watch this space for more news.