We decided to have a couple of rest days at a lakeside campsite outside North Sydney before tackling the Cabot Trail - a 300km loop around the northern peninsula of Cape Breton - to wash all our clothes and to sort out logistics post this Trail. There were some very friendly people around including a couple who brought us two cold beers. In Canada alcohol is only sold through government licensed liquor stores which can be some distance away when you are on a bicycle.
We got onto the Cabot Trail via a small ferry in the tiny hamlet of Englishtown where we saw two bald eagles soaring overhead. We spent our first night for free in a teepee (as the place that owned it were celebrating 10 years in business). The eastern coast of the peninsula became increasingly rocky and the wind stronger as we headed north amidst heavy rainshowers - but we managed 93kms on that second day including the steep ascent of Smokey Mountain. The road throughout the Trail was constantly bordered by wild flowers which made it very pretty. There were a further two 'mountains' to cycle up as we went round the loop, each one was challenging but in each case we pedalled to the top ... eventually.
We had a rest day at the northern end of the peninsula to dry out our wet clothing and explore some of the lovely bays and lakeland. The western coast was very pretty with bays, high cliffs and a vast large tree-covered plateau at the top. The headwind on the fourth day was mean and made progress very slow until it died down in the afternoon as we headed inland.
The fifth night of camping was plagued by tiny biting black flies (leaving itchy, weeping scars for several days afterwards). Thankfully we met Terri and Hugh who provided us with mosquito coils to keep the flies at bay and invited us to share their camp fire that evening and introduced us to 'smores' - marshmallows and chocolate melted between two biscuits.
That night was also eventful with the appearance of a racoon at 1am. By the time we had realised he was around he had already made off with a cycle helmet and was in the process of dragging our food pannier from the vestibule of the tent. We eventually put a stop to his antics by putting all our panniers in a dustbin and loading the lid with a big rock. In North Sydney a racoon took a fancy to one of Fran's shoes and nibbled off part of the tongue.
Having finally completed the Trail we managed to put our bikes on a bus for the four hour journey to Truro.Here we stayed with Bob and Glenda (from the Warmshowers.org network) who treated us to a great shellfish supper and homemade waffles for breakfast. We are now on an 18 hour train ride to Quebec.