Lisa Stevenson enjoys a winter day at Bottle Cove. â€” Submitted photo
Bottle Cove, at the end of the South Shore of the Bay of Islands, is one of our favourite places to visit in the summer.
We love taking friends and relatives there since it is so scenic with its ragged cliffs, sandy beach and wave carved shoreline. It is a fine place to watch the sunset and there are benches and picnic tables along the way so that you can relax and enjoy the view.
The Outer Bay of Islands Enhancement Committee (OBIEC) has done a great job improving the short hiking trails and installing rope handrails on some of the steeper sections.
In addition to improving the trails in and around Bottle Cove, they have also built a hiking trail called the Southhead Lighthouse Trail, which starts from the Bottle Cove parking lot.
We also use the beach at Bottle Cove to launch our sea kayaks for one of our favourite paddles in the Bay of Islands â€” the trip around Southhead lighthouse to Lark Harbour.
Despite our frequent visits in the summer, we rarely head to Bottle Cove at this time of the year, but we recently decided to check it out under a blanket of snow. This winter has been one of the coldest in recent memory and we wanted to see the frozen pack ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
We set out in the morning of Tuesday, March 11, and we werenâ€™t disappointed as we began to drive out past Benoits Cove and saw sea ice stretching out across Humber Arm. Lisa, Heatherâ€™s sister, was visiting from Ottawa and it had been almost 25 years since she had been here in the winter. We stopped to take photos of the snowy Blow Me Down Mountains and then drove past York and Lark Harbour to Bottle Cove.
Fortunately, the road to the Bottle Cove day use area had been plowed and we could drive virtually to the summer parking lot. The area seemed to have had quite a bit of traffic, and the hiking trail to the Cookâ€™s Monument was well packed down by walkers and snowshoers.
We headed down across a small footbridge and then took the side trail to Island Cove where we saw another group of three hikers sitting on a bench enjoying the spring-like weather. From there we headed out to the end of the hiking trail at the Cook Monument and we saw pack ice as far as the eye could see. Although the air temperature was
-7C, we were blessed with sunny skies, which made the dramatic landscape very picturesque.
From there we made our way back to our car and then decided to take a side trip to Lark Harbour before heading back to Corner Brook.
We drove through Lark Harbour and, just as we decided to turn around, we saw a seal that had hauled out on the snow. We have rarely seen seals in Newfoundland and this was a real treat, especially for Lisa.
It is interesting to see familiar places in a different season and you canâ€™t go wrong with a winter trip to Bottle Cove on a sunny day.
Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org