The Irish Loop Continued

A few kilometres away are the communities of Peter's River, St. Stephens and St. Vincent's where sheep-raising has a long history. At St. Vincent's, a long stretch of sandy beach runs parallel to the highway. This is a marvelous place for beach combing and bird watching. Deep water near the shore enables whales to swim very close to the shoreline.

Follow Route 90 to Holyrood Pond, a vast salt water lake that opens to the sea at St. Vincent's. In the 1890s the Newfoundland government pioneered fish hatching in this spectacular ocean inlet.

In the community of St. Mary's and throughout this region you will hear a dialect of Newfoundland Irish and see a lifestyle similar to Ireland's. All along the way you meet the descendants of the original settlers who came from that country to fish and farm in the New World and you will see them going about their business in much the same way as they have for a hundred years.

From the communities of Coot's Pond and Riverhead on Route 90, you can take a scenic detour to O'Donnels and Admirals Beach on Route 94. Then travel up Salmonier Arm toward St. Joseph's, near the mouth of one of best spots for salmon in eastern Newfoundland, Salmonier River. There are a number of good fishing pools in the 15-km stretch between the mouth of the river and Murphy Falls, accessible from the highway. The best pools are Back River, Pinsent's Falls, Butler's and Murphy Falls proper.

Another favourite Irish Loop destination is the favourite Irish Loop destination is the Salmonier Nature Park, a 1,214-hectare wilderness reserve area with a large exhibit area where visitors can see some 30 species of animals and birds indigenous to Newfoundland and Labrador. The park provides the opportunity to see at close range flora and fauna which you might miss in the course of normal travel within the province. Kids love this park. You can see moose, beaver, caribou, owls, otters, lynx, foxes and others. There's a boardwalk over much of the trail.

The last piece of the Irish Loop is Route 1 between Route 90 and St. John’s. Near the Witless Bay Line (Route 13 which takes you to Route 10) you will see evidence of the great ice sheets that once covered North America. Large boulders, known as glacial erratics, sit where they were dropped by the retreating glaciers thousands of years ago. In fact, this is probably the most southerly arctic/alpine region in the world, and a variety of plant life reaches its southernmost limit here.

On the small ponds in the vicinity you may catch a glimpse of Canada geese, which share this habitat with ptarmigan and horned larks. You may wish to relax and investigate this wonderful part of nature during a stopover at Butter Pot Provincial Park The park, within easy access from all communities on the Avalon Peninsula, is a popular weekend rendezvous for campers. Butter Pot has a sandy freshwater beach, spacious campgrounds and an interpretation display. Guided nature walks are conducted by a park naturalist on the hiking trails within the park boundaries. Ask at the park office for directions to the Hawke Hills Ecological Reserve which is on the south side of Route 1 between Routes 90 and 62.

Just east of the park is the ‘City Limits’ sign that means you're near St. John's. You can continue on Route 1 into the northwest section of the city, or you can go downtown on Route 2, which ends at Water Street, one of the oldest European thoroughfares on the continent.

The Irish Loop combines diverse landscape with amazing wild life. Where else can you see whales, puffins, moose and caribou; hike rugged coastline plus stay at a quaint bed and breakfast, all in the same weekend?


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