Hidden Gems in Notre Dame Bay
This was our fifth vacation spent touring Newfoundland by motorcycle, so when we sat down to plan out this year’s trip we ran into a bit of a quandry. Where hadn’t we been? Or more importantly, where hadn’t we been that is still easily accessible, since we only had one week of holidays?
I think it was Mark’s folks who suggested Oceanview Park in the town of Leading Tickles, saying that it was absolutely beautiful out there. I knew absolutely nothing about the place but my research found nine out of nine glowing reviews on Tripadvisor so I figured it must be a decent spot, and we booked a campsite for the first “tenting” night of our trip.
To get to Leading Tickles you exit the TCH at Route 350, and head towards Botwood. Our route included a side trip to the town of Phillips Head (I think it would be awesome if they had a massive screwdriver as a roadside attraction) to see the abandoned gun battery from World War II. There’s many old gun batteries on the Avalon, but the one in Phillips Head puts them to shame. It’s massive and elaborate, and according to Wikipedia:
“It boasted a three-storey lookout tower and a 700-foot underground passage that connected 11 rooms filled with ammunition, secret documents and supplies. The entire station was surrounded by barbed wire fencing and fitted with drain pipes intended to flood the facility in the event of enemy invasion. Booby traps were also set up along the underground passage and two hidden escape hatches were installed.”
I couldn’t find much information online about the battery, and I would never have known it was there if we hadn’t spotted it from across the bay in Laurenceton a couple of years ago. If you’re ever in the area, make sure to stop by for a look, it’s only a few minutes walk from the main road.
The next stop was Glover’s Harbour, to see the life-size replica of the giant squid caught there in 1878. Every community needs a claim to fame!
From there it was on to Leading Tickles to set up camp after a long day on the road. It’s a quaint little fishing village with a population under 500. The park is located at the northern tip of the community, and when we pulled into our campsite the natural beauty of the place pretty much blew my mind.
The only thing missing was a cold beer. After we set the tent up and unloaded the bikes, we headed down the road to the only store in town…and then realized that it closed for supper literally 30 seconds before we pulled in. Obviously an hour and a half is WAY too long to wait to get beer, so off we went to Point Leamington, a round trip of almost 60km. Where I come from, there’s a saying: “it’s a bad wind that doesn’t blow some good”. When we rode from Point Leamington to Leading Tickles earlier we discovered that it was a great motorcycle road, and we both wished that we didn’t have the bikes loaded down like pack mules. So we really enjoyed this little unladen ride!
Back at the park, beer in hand, it was time to do a little exploring before dark (worst thing about travelling in late August: shorter days). Scampering across the rocks as the sun was setting was an experience I will never forget.
We fell asleep to sound of the ocean and woke up to…water dripping. In the tent. On Mark’s face. At 2am. It had been such a beautiful evening (and sketchy internet signal meant I couldn’t check the radar) that we neglected to rig up the tarp. It was raining, and our budget tent showed its inferiority. It’s a good thing the neighbouring campsites were empty, because the neighbours would surely have awoken to a barrage of half-asleep expletives. If we had’ve been travelling by car I think I would’ve burnt the tent on the spot and thrown the sleeping bag on the backseat. But when motocamping you have no choice but to persevere, and we managed to wrap the tarp around the tent and secure it with beach rocks, and got back to sleep probably around 4am. Lesson learned.
It was still raining the next morning. After a breakfast of coffee and oatmeal we debated what to do. The most fun option was to dress up in rain gear and go for a hike over to the east beach in the park. One of the most important things to remember when motocamping: “you can’t control the weather, you can only control your reaction to it. And you’re not made of sugar”.
The rain hike gave us an opportunity to see the rest of the park, and by the time we were heading back to the campsite it was starting to clear off. We managed to pack up camp in relatively dry conditions and headed west…towards the Baie Verte Peninsula with a detour to see the Glassy Beach.
Posted on August 31, 2016, in Roads of Newfoundland and tagged adv, adventure touring, camping, giant squid, glover's harbour, gun battery, history, Kawasaki Versys, leading tickles, motorcycle, motorcycle camping, motorcycle touring, motorcycle travel, Newfoundland, newfoundland travel, notre dame bay, Suzuki Vstrom, world war II. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.