As Jen mentioned yesterday, our camp last night is high up in the hills behind the inhabited strip, close to the coast. There are lakes all around us and the solitude is glorious.
Yesterday we passed through the little settlement of St Ann’s. It has a special significance for us Kiwis. Forgive me if I have covered this before. I seem to recall writing about it, but this is special.
The McLeod Story.
In the North Island of New Zealand is a little town called Waipu Cove. It has a Scottish community.
How, when and why did the Scot’s choose this place?
In the lowlands of Scotland in the early 1800’s the Lairds (land owners) were clearing the Crofters (tenant farmers) off their land. Why, is for another time. At about the same time, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland was going through a challenging time. The parish were resisting the administration’s practice of replacing retiring ministers with people of their choosing. The parish wanted a say in who was to be ministering to them.
Norman McLeod was a respected lay preacher who was totally fed up with life in his country and along with approximately 200 parishioners, built two ships and set sail for a new life in Canada.
That new life was established in Nova Scotia (New Scotland). St Ann’s, Cape Breton, to be precise.
For approximately 18 years they established a community. However, due to the harsh winter climate and some disagreements with the indigenous Indian population, Mcleod grew restless and set sail with 900 settlers in 5 ships and landed on the coast of Victoria in Australia. After another two years McLeod was on the move again and sailed for the newly discovered, New Zealand.
On one of my tours I was telling the passengers this story as we drove past Waipu Cove. Two of those passengers were Bill Jones and his lovely wife, Joan.
Bill, grew up on Cape Breton. It’s only more recently that he told us about where the McLeod settlers established their settlement. One of the main reasons for coming to this part of the world, was to complete the picture of this amazing story.
Our journey up the ‘Cabot Trail’ Nova Scotia took us past The McLeod cemetery. One of the things I had been unaware of, is that obviously not all the families left St Ann’s. As there are much more recent internments. There is also a McDonalds Cemetery, a little further up the Trail too, so things may not have been running smoothly for the settlement here?
Today has been the most amazing day. It was very hot and sticky last night when we set up camp. Clouds started forming but we were confident there would be no rain. However around 2am I could feel raindrops on my face, so had to get up and close the side windows. It took me ages to get back to sleep as again. I was thinking about some of the sillier things I have done in my life. Jen beats me for these bouts and It’s not long before I’m back on the ball, so to speak. Is it good to reflect like that?
So, this morning we woke to sunshine and were on the rough track back to the main road, by 10am.
Our first stop was Ingonish. Bill & Joan and indeed Bill’s Mum, Mary, insisted we go to Ingonish. Expecting a sandy beach we were surprised by the size of the smooth rocks and pebbles that separated us from the water. It’s a special beach anyway and there were paddlers, like us, enjoying the warm waters of that part of the Atlantic ocean.
Settled in our hotel for the night and after a lobster dinner, its time to reflect on an amazing day. The latter part of the drive down the northern coast of Cape Breton Island, was perhaps the most enjoyable of my life. A winding, undulating road, relatively little traffic, windows down and the TD5 purring beautifully with it’s diesel cackle. The road surface either dreadful or recently sealed, but it didn’t matter. With the sun shining and the coastline and scenery, magnificent.
Ash, this should be your next cycling experience.
To complete the day I have had lovely letters from two of my children. 🙂