Ceilidh Trail, Nova Scotia
Ceilidh Trail: ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) the Cape Breton word for a having a rollicking good time
The Ceilidh rail is a scenic trail approximately 100 kilometers long providing views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the west side of Cape Breton Island. This trail ends in Margaree Harbour and meets the Cabot Trail.
Communities Along the Way
Cape Breton Island rests on the edge of our continent, and in Inverness you can feel it. With the fresh ocean air and inspiring views, it’s no wonder that artists of world-renown live and work here. The fine works of Doug Fraser, Virginia McCoy and many others can be seen at the Inverness County Center for the Arts. Golf at Cabot Links Resort and Cabot Cliffs, Cape Breton’s true links golf courses and the only two in Canada, overlook the blue, blue waters of the Northumberland Strait and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Uncover more about Inverness industrial history at the Inverness Miners' Museum. Enjoy live harness racing at the Inverness Raceway on Sundays between May – Oct and also on Wednesdays in July and August. Indulge in fresh seafood chowder at a downtown café, and then take a walk on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail which brings you to the spectacular windswept Inverness Beach boardwalk. Cap off your perfect day as you watch the sun sink low into the sea as you wriggle your toes in the sand, here, on the edge of the continent.
Music is the backbone of the history, culture and everyday life in Mabou. Of course with music there’s dance - step dancing or square dancing that is. In the summertime, you can find a ceilidh (pronounced ‘kay-lee’) or square dance in the area seven days a week. Mabou is the hometown of Juno-award winning Celtic pop group, The Rankins. In fact, two Rankin sisters own the Red Shoe Pub, a hotspot for delicious locally-sourced food and nightly entertainment. You may catch Cape Breton’s next up-and-coming musician at the performing arts centre, Strathspey Place. There is local art (Mabou Village Gallery and Ann Schroeder Studio to name but two), history (at An Drochaid); plenty of outdoor activities (the beach at West Mabou Beach Provincial Park and hiking at Cape Mabou). Tip: be sure to find a freshly baked Cape Breton oatcake, available at many of the local eateries!
Endless stretches of sandy seashore combined with some of the warmest waters in eastern Canada make Port Hood a perfect spot to spend a day at the beach especially where there are five beaches to choose from within the town limits! No beach day is complete without (at least one) ice cream cone, so visit Bikinis and Trunks Ice Cream Bar on the Main Street. Visit the Chestico Museum & Gift Shop to discover how the island just offshore played a role in the construction of the 18th century French fortified Fortress of Louisbourg, the largest historical reconstruction in North America. Take a boat tour around Port Hood Island or drive down Little Mabou/Colindale Road at the north end of Port Hood for a scenic alternate route to Mabou, complete with rolling farmland and photo opportunities of Mabou Harbour and the Cape Mabou highlands.
It’s been said that a violin sings, but a fiddle dances. At the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, member of the Celtic Heart of North America, discover why Cape Breton fiddling (and dancing for that matter) is so distinctive. Hear from musicians who study, teach and play Cape Breton-style! They will explain how they make their fiddle dance to strasthpeys, jigs and reels. If you are visiting in August, the Judique on the Floor Days festival and Kintyre Farm Concert is a wonderful opportunity to immerse with locals and authentic Cape Breton activities. The daily ceilidh in this musical part of the island will fill your heart with song. The Tartan Gardens gazebo offers a quiet spot to rest and the nearby community trails connect with Celtic Shores Coastal Trail that wander down along the shore.
At the doorstep of Cape Breton Island, Port Hastings greets all who cross the Canso Causeway. The view from the Port Hastings Historical Society Museum and Archives provides visitors with a panoramic view of this 1.3 kilometer connection between the mainland of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. Inside, learn how the Causeway was built and see model ship displays.