Marcie, Bailey and I were invited up to Ingonish Beach by Jim Melvin. Jim works at the Ardan Rum, the restaurant at the Keltic Lodge. In his invite, he told me that Ingonish Beach was one of the greatest beaches around and that he would provide us with a meal afterwards. The offer was too good to pass up. So, finally having a Saturday free, I drove the family up the Cabot Trail, over Smokey and into Ingonish. We turned off towards the Keltic Lodge and then took the first right down to the beach, which is part of the CB Highlands National Park and has lifeguards on duty. As the amazing view opened up over the beach, I wondered to myself how it came to be that this was my first time visiting this fabulous place. As a beach bum, I’ve been to nearly every beach on the island and I quite frequently hike the Middle Head trail which is just down the road from the beach beyond the Lodge. Anyway, it was a treat to visit such a beautiful place on the island. It was my first time but it definitely won’t be my last.
There are a number of things that make Ingonish Beach special. The views are second to none. As you’re standing on the beach, you can see the rocky peninsula which is home to the Keltic Lodge to your left and amazing green mountains rolling out into the Atlantic on your right. The beach is a long stretch of sand which slopes down to a very active ocean and up to a long line of beautiful beach rocks which create a natural wall separating the beach from the rest of the world. Needless to say, my rock-loving daughter fell quickly in love with the smooth, round rocks and spent a great deal of time exploring as many as she could and throwing them into the water. I went for a long and wonderful swim in the rolling waves. The water was cool and refreshing on a hot August day. After a couple of hours swimming, exploring and photographing scenery, birds and people, we discovered the other wonder of this beach. There is a hiking trail which travels along the coast of Freshwater Lake, another calmer and warmer swimming area. The lake is partially surrounded by the mountains of the highlands and is home to much wildlife, including loons which nest along the shores. The hike is a 1.5 km loop that winds past the lake and then around through the forest and back to the parking area of the beach. Here you will find tennis courts and soccer fields. So, there are many great opportunities for physical activity in this little piece of paradise. We felt fully refreshed as we arrived back at the changing facilities. We also felt quite hungry as we changed for our much anticipated supper at the Keltic Lodge.
We came on Saturday to Ardan Rum and as we entered the restaurant, we passed a small lounge where a live band was playing Celtic music. It was a great way to start the evening’s dining. We came on Saturday because they have a buffet where the chefs cook seafood right out in the open. So, not only do you get a great meal but you get an interesting culinary show as well. The most exciting part is when the chefs are cooking the seafood and they add sambuca or wine to the pans. What results is no less than a quick, towering flash of flame which shoots wildly into the air and brushes the ceiling as the alcohol burns off. It is a great fireworks show and it is amazing to see the control the chefs have over this display. Marcie and I are vegetarians so we didn’t order the buffet, although from the look of things, I somewhat wished that I was a seafood eater for the evening. The people who were dining on the buffet were speaking wonderfully about the food and, as I watched scallops cooking, a large part of me wanted to eat them. Instead, we ordered vegetable strudel – lentils, cheese and vegetables prepared in phyllo pastry and served over rice or potatoes. I had the potatoes and Marcie had the rice. We both had very tasty meals which were fresh and healthy and the phyllo pastry was particularly delicious. We cleaned our plates and had some dessert as well. The sun was going down as we ate. The day was ending perfectly with good food and a beautiful sunset over the mountains. The restaurant has a view on three sides – out over the ocean, the mountains and the neat looking island that is out off the coast.
As we left, the sky was a dark blue and the mountains were silhouetted in the distance. The water reflected the deep colours of the sky and just a sliver of light was shining over the mountain tops. We were all sleepy and it was time to drive back to Sydney.
This marked the end of another perfect Beach Bum Adventure. Sometimes, beach days turn into so much more in our amazing island playground. We had a great swim, a hike, took in some wonderful views and had a fabulous meal and it was all within a couple of hours of home.
What a great place to live!
Check out the Ardan Rum at kelticlodge.ca
Until next time, I’m off on another Beach Bum Adventure!