Drive through rolling rural countryside and at Malignant Cover keep to the left where you start seeing views of the blue waters of the Northumberland Shore. Our first stop is Arisaig. Turn right at the St. Margaret of Scotland Church and head down to the wharf.
From the lighthouse where you can get an ice cream in season fresh sea breezes and sea birds on the colorful rocks. Learn about this historic fishing community on the interpretive panels. Walk along the wharf and admire the fishing boats. During the lobster fishing season (May 1 – June 30) there is lots of activity early morning and when the boats return.
A small crescent sandy pebble beach is fun for the whole family. At low tide you can walk over towards the cliffs of the Provincial Park but be careful to head back before the tide comes in!
Continue your drive to the right and visit the Arisaig Provincial Park with trails through the trees and a stairway down to the fossil beach and waterfall. Investigate the geology and history with the interpretive panels and enjoy the view across to Arisaig Harbour. Great place for a picnic.
Next stop is Steinhart Distillery (www.steinhartdistillery.com) offering a tasting bar, tours of the distillery and purchases of the internationally award winning favorites using local ingredients such as Maple Vodka, Rhubarb Gin, Habanero Vodka and many more. An outdoor patio and menu featuring Schnitzle is available depending on the weather. Often there is evening entertainment.
Continuing along the Northumberland Shore on Hwy 245, the next stop is Knoydart. On the left is the Knoydart Farm, an organic dairy farm producing cheeses in a variety of flavors such as garlic, dill, cumin, chili, smoked, caraway and cranberry and cheese curds. Call ahead to visit 902-867-1305. www.facebook.com/KNOYDARTFARM/
Just a bit beyond and on the ocean side, is the Battle of Culloden Memorial. A grassy shaded track leads to a cairn memorializing this important Scottish event from 1746. Enjoy the beautiful lookout over the Northumberland Strait. A memorial celebration is held here yearly in April. www.culloden.ca
Look for historical kiosks and interpretive panels as you drive through Lismore, Merigomish and Barneys River Station. Learn interesting facts and see historical photos and maps from back in the day when these were thriving communities.
Just past Ponds, turn right for a 2KM causeway connecting Big Island to the mainland. Sandy dunes and a pebble beach are perfect for beach combing and paddling.
At Sutherlands River you can take Hwy 4 for a scenic drive back to Antigonish or get on to HWY 104 to head East to Halifax or West back to Antigonish or on to Cape Breton. Note that currently there is construction on HWY 104 in this area.