Day 81 – Ferry to Nova Scotia! Ben’s Field Campground to Harbour Lights Campground

Day 81 – The campground last night sets my new benchmark for bugs. It was heaving, and I sincerely hope won’t be beaten on this trip. It was really a series of fishing lakes with a fish farm at one end, with cabins, gazebos (with screens to keep out the bugs) and a couple of trailers, and despite the insects it was a beautiful spot. Apparently the old owners sold up recently and the new ones haven’t quite got the hang of running this kind of business yet. There was only one other tent and they had been here many times over the years They said they hardly recognised the place it had been so run down. The new owner did tell me that the gazebos were normally $50 to rent, but to help myself as it was so quiet, so perhaps they are getting the hang of it! I cooked and ate in there in total serenity as the sun went down (going to the show made me pretty late today), before doing a mad dash to get to bed without letting them bugs find me first.

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 
  • Time in saddle: 
  • Max/min temp (°c): °/°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 
  • Calories used: 
  • Cafe time: 


We’re on to a new map today, although it’s actually pretty battered. I was given this by Mac the motorbike guy travelling the world, back in Saskatchewan, or was it Manitoba? Anyway, we met a services cafe and he set me up for the maritimes as he was heading the other way. I’ll happily do the same if I meet anyone foolish enough to be going west so late in the season.

It was a very hilly start to the day, giving my legs a good workout again. PEI is not a flat island! I was heading for the ferry to Nova Scotia, and got my first glimpse of the next Province of this journey from the top of a high hill.

Once down at the ferry I found I was in time for the 9.30am and got sent to straight to pole position on the starting grid:

What is it about ferries, especially on a bike? I was waved on ahead of even the foot passengers and ordered my breakfast with the crew before any other ticket-holders had even rolled aboard. The downside was that every single person that passed my table had a good shuftie at my plate to see what was on offer this morning:

As I ate I met a very rare passenger, called Charlie (I didn’t get his owner’s name!). He was quivering and whistling a funny little ditty, which was incredibly similar to the lilting tones used in rehearsals by the great Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, only a couple of octaves higher. I asked about the quivering, and his owner said that Charlie was on his first ever boat trip, and that he wasn’t quivering, but rather constantly adjusting with the swell of the sea to try and stay level. It was pretty blowy today so I imagine he had a tiring time of it.

His owner got him out on deck as soon as possible, where he was instantly surrounded by kids and adults wanting to know all about him. (As I write this, Charlie does look a lot happier and livelier in the breeze. He is currently surrounded by a family of three young sisters, all stroking him gently at the same time while Charlie cuddles up into the neck of his owner, either in bliss or for reassurance)

(The first sister is on the right, about to start stroking Charlie)

Much too soon, the ferry ride was over and the call to return vehicles went out. I was the only bike and got off well ahead of the big lads:

…and found myself making landfall for my ninth Canadian Province, Nova Scotia!:

It felt great to be here, and instead of stopping at the first campground, I put a few more kilometres behind me and went further around towards Pictou and Harbour Lights campground. After quickly setting up (the owner, visiting me at my pitch, said “We got wifi now too – password “painintheass”, lower case”. I had to tell him about deathtoallvegans in BC, and he told me the name was chosen because of all the trouble to get the system working), I jumped back on my bike to cycle round a bit further into Pictou. I needed to call my destination tomorrow, The Crombie House, but was out of credit. This house is the home of the Sobey family, of supermarket fame, and houses one of the finest private collections of Canadian art anywhere in the world, their website says! Hardly anyone I’ve asked about this place knew about it, so it was reassuring to speak to them in person. Unless you go on a Wednesday, you have to make a personal private appointment with a guide, although it’s all free. I’ll let you know how I get on, but it sounds wonderful. For once I have the luxury of enough time before my ferry next week to make a few detours.

Then I walked down to Pictou harbour, which looked atmospheric with this historic vessel and the dense low cloud:

…and then visited the Northumberland Fisheries Museum, complete with Lobster hatchery and Lighthouse. After meeting Charlie earlier, here I met Roy, who’s a big lad:

… and also saw this great historic chart, showing all the best sites for cod fishing throughout the maritimes, but I’ve zoomed in on PEI since that’s where I generally go to do all of my deep-sea cod fishing:

This harbour holds the record for the biggest blue-fin tuna ever caught, in 1979, but I’ve forgotten the weight. Around 1490-ish lbs, I think. Anyway, they’re BIG fellers and require a much more substantial rod than the ones that I generally use whenever I go deep-sea (That’s enough “generally”-ing – Ed). This rod was forty years old, as you may be able to see from the label, and was reinforced all the way up and down the length of it. These seats are positioned right at the back of the boat, and good luck to anyone that actually hooks one onto their line. They’re the fastest accelerating fish in the sea, it said. 70-80kph in no time at all. I think I’ll stick to deep sea cod (I warned you – Ed)

I also had a FaceTime call with everyone (Susie, Sam, Jacob and our goddaughter Millie, who’s having a summer break with us) back home, which was lovely but with a frustratingly poor signal. I took a screenshot whilst we spoke, just to have a picture of everyone, but now I look at it, it’s hysterical. I’m in the little box top left looking like I’m having a whale (or tuna) of a time, but they all look incredibly bored. I laugh every time I think about it. I’ve decided not to post the photo, because they really didn’t look like that. I think they were waiting for the signal to connect us. Probably.

I’d also like to send a !CONGRATULATIONS! to Jacob’s girlfriend, Ella, who got the ‘A’ Level grades she needed and is off to Bristol University next year. It’s wonderful news, and I’m so pleased for her. Good luck to anyone else out there with family members waiting, or hearing!

As chance would have it, dear Chisholm family, I passed this yesterday. It must have been a good luck sign:

Many blog-days ago, somewhere in the Prairies, I asked a local where I should eat, and got an unequivocal reply. The same has happened here – my campground’s owner, the lady in the convenience store, and a few others judging by how busy it was, recommended Sharon’s Place. It really didn’t look like much from outside:

…but I was very pleased to see that it was almost all booths within, the food was great, and I spent ages over my meal of liver & onions:

The only thing missing was a glass of local beer, so I walked back down to The Harbour House terrace bar to try a Cape Breton dark beer, whi ch was also delicious. This is a very chilled town, low key and friendly, and easy to like:

Then it was back on the bike and a few more of those hills back to Harbour Lights camping.

When I arrived back at Harbour Lights I ran into the owner again, Cameron. He had been pretty relaxed about being paid earlier, so I told him I had some money for him. “You do?” he replied. “Tell you what – how about you don’t pay me a thing?”  He was a very lighthearted and funny guy, so I said I was happy to pay. “No no no” he said. I told him about my ride being to raise money for SOS Children’s Villages, and that if he was being serious I could call it a donation. “Well there you go!” he shouted, pleased as anything. “You want an ice cream? Come in the office and talk to me”.

So off we went, into his large office, where he got an ice cream for each of us and pulled up two chairs. He wanted to know all about my trip, plus who the heck our Prime Minister was, why we’re leaving Europe, and so on. We chatted for ages, interrupted by regular appearances from residents of the trailer park. He introduced me differently every time without missing a beat, first as a photographer doing research, then as a retired baseball star, then as a prospective buyer for the park (“Meet your new boss Silas – we just signed the contracts!”), all greeted with great caution by those who know Cameron well. Next to arrive were his son and a friend who are working here for the summer. Cameron left and we talked about growing up here in the maritimes. They both knew the fishing industry well but never wanted to pursue it. The hours were tough unless you took Lobster, but then the season was only two months. They were both eating a late lunch picked up from, you guessed, Sharon’s Place. The only other time I’ve sat and talked like this with the site owners was back on the St Lawrence River, and the widow owner wouldn’t take any money then either.

Thanks Cameron, you made my visit to Pictou.

10 thoughts on “Day 81 – Ferry to Nova Scotia! Ben’s Field Campground to Harbour Lights Campground

  1. Yay… you’ve reached Nova Scotia, congratulations! And on the same day as Roger and Adam arrive there! Sadly I’m still at home 😞
    We went to Pictou a few years ago… I remember going on the old ship (Hector?) and visiting the Fisheries museum.
    I love all these First Nation names; we also went to Tatamagouche and Shubenacadie, among others.
    Enjoy Cape Breton… definitely on my list of places to go, next time I’m there. Px

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ben! It WAS a good luck sign!! And you’ll soon find out why when you get back! The Chisholm clan were an important one; their motto was ‘feros feria! – I am fierce with the fierce or I fight the fierce! So may that sign give you strength for your journey home – yeeehaaaaa!! Looking forward to seeing you. Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you saw the post Miranda! I’m so glad for Ella hat she’s going to Bristol – clever girl. And I love your motto! I want a motto! One of my favourite terms in music is ‘con feroce’, which I have always taken to mean “let out your frustration with today’s conductor now”. Looking forward to a coffee or something stronger together when I’m home. Bxx (ps please hug Roly from me, I miss him too)


  3. Ps: very nice of you to send congrats to Ella – I read them out to her! Thank you Ben and of course that’s what I was referring to when I said you’ll find out when you get back (silly me!!). X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s hilarious!! “con feroce” – …wonder if that motto could be applied to anybody or anything? Might adopt that motto at random just for the fun of it!! Xx.


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