Great time in Grates Cove

Fog clinging to Bacalieu Island near Grates Cove
Fog clinging to Bacalieu Island near Grates Cove

Grates Cove is like a jewel on the point of a crown. At the tip of the Bacalieu trail with Bacalieu Island in the distance, it’s a treasure each time we visit.
As a getaway for the Canada Day weekend, also the Memorial Day weekend in Newfoundland, we booked the vacation home rented by Grates Cove Studio. Used as either a tourist home or artist residence depending on the need, this house presents an amazing view of the community and it’s historic rock walls.

View from Grates Cove Studio rental house
View from Grates Cove Studio rental house

The forecast for Gander was not at all promising as we headed out for a long weekend. Rain, drizzle and fog made the TransCanada Highway miserable. We were glad we’d brought a deck of cards because it was looking like we’d be enjoying the great indoors.

Fog in Ivany's Cove
Fog in Ivany’s Cove
Doe Hills
Doe Hills

Leaving the TransCanada Highway at Whitbourne, the drive north on Route 80 traverses communities including Heart’s Delight and Hearts Content, Winterton and Old Perlican. We had a rainy and foggy drive on the TCH but as we went up the coast, the weather cleared and it was beautiful. We made a usual stop at Shag Rock to see if there were whales and went ‘off road’ to admire the beach in New Melbourne.

A huge flooded ditch stopped us from going to the far side of the beach but from the easily accessed side we saw whales feeding in the waves. Then Leo noticed action in the cove and we saw two surfers trying to hang 10 as the waves came in. They didn’t get any great waves when we were there but the potential was definitely there. Cool, surfer dudes!

Road I wouldn't let Leo take to get closer to the surfers!
Road I wouldn’t let Leo take to get closer to the surfers!
There are whales out there....maybe not on top....New Melbourne, NL
There are whales out there….maybe not on top….New Melbourne, NL
Two surfers try to catch a wave in New Melbourne, NL. Whales were only metres away.
Two surfers try to catch a wave in New Melbourne, NL. Whales were only metres away.
Root cellar and church in New Melbourne, NL
Root cellar and church in New Melbourne, NL

Due to a late night, late departure and slow drive, we arrived for a late supper at our house in Grates Cove. Smart  enough to invite houseguests who are in charge of the food. Thanks Lisa and John. It was delicious!

This was the residence of Courtney and Terrence Howell  when they first moved to Grates Cove. He’s native to the area and she’s a Cajun queen from Louisiana. They are now settled in a new home and offer this house as an artist residency to encourage artists to come and create in their Grates Cove Studio space, the former school.

Living room Grates Cove
Living room Grates Cove
Door to deck and picnic table for whale watching.
Door to deck and picnic table for whale watching.
Pantry and kitchen
Pantry and kitchen

We enjoyed watching the whales from the ‘bridge’ or deck on the side of the house.

A very quiet little community, it got exciting for about 40 minutes after supper when residents began riding around the little ‘block’ on their quads. I’m not sure if there was a purpose or occasion or if they were just checking out the people in the blue house but we could see they were quite relaxed with helmet and riding recreational vehicles on roads “rules”. Then everyone disappeared again.

Our quality time was a marathon cribbage tournament, ladies beating the men, if I remember correctly. We slept with windows open to cool off a hot summer night.

After a late breakfast, we did a drive to nearby and scenic Red Head Cove and then on to Bay de Verde.  Bay de Verde has a major crab fishing industry and seafood plant run by Quinlan Brothers.

Fog banks off Red Head Cove, NL
Fog banks off Red Head Cove, NL
Bay de Verde, NL
Bay de Verde, NL
Fish Plant, Bay de Verde, NL
Fish Plant, Bay de Verde, NL
Crab boats, Bay de Verde, NL
Crab boats, Bay de Verde, NL

By the time we came back from our drive, munchies were setting in.

Courtney Howell has just opened a “Comfort Kitchen” in part of the school building they have renovated. Less than a week open when we visited, the menu is posted daily on their facebook page and it seems like they already have some regulars! We stopped in for a fish soup and a pea soup, both of which were delicious. Since we’ve been there, they’ve had some great Cajun dishes advertised and it’s tempting to make the long drive just for a taste. They’ve even had company from the States and a music night with visiting and local musicians.

Courtney's Comfort Kitchen, Grates Cove, NL
Courtney’s Comfort Kitchen, Grates Cove, NL
Fish soup with a corn bread muffin
Fish soup with a corn bread muffin
Pea Soup and homemade bread, Courtney's Comfort Kitchen,  Grates Cove, NL
Pea Soup and homemade bread, Courtney’s Comfort Kitchen, Grates Cove, NL

In addition to eat in and I’m sure, take out options, they have backpack picnic packs with thermos bottles. Not sure if you have to pre-book a packed lunch but it’s a great idea with the number of trails around the area.

Terrence is a visual artist who also works with exotic woods and makes the most amazing wooden utensils for people who love the feel of a favorite spoon in their hand. He used his photography to build box lamps with the photo as a shade through which the light shines. See my Land and Sea post for some of his work too.

Wooden spoons by Terrance Howell
Wooden spoons by Terrance Howell
Spatulas and tongs made by Grates Cove Studio's Terrance Howell
Spatulas and tongs made by Grates Cove Studio’s Terrance Howell

Lisa and John were more energetic (read young) and took advantage of the Big Hill trail to get a better view of the rock gardens of Grates Cove.  The community still shows evidence of hundreds of walls built by early settlers.

Stairs to Big Hill trail in Grates Cove, NL
Stairs to Big Hill trail in Grates Cove, NL
Rock walls were used to clear fields and divide property as well as to keep animals in our out of gardens. Unique to this area of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Rock walls were used to clear fields and divide property as well as to keep animals in our out of gardens. Unique to this area of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Rock wall across the road from our two story rental, Grates Cove Studio, Grates Cove, NL
Rock wall across the road from our two story rental, Grates Cove Studio, Grates Cove, N

Sunday night we repeated the dinner, quad watching and whale watching. I think the girls won again and crib, too.

After a ridiculously huge breakfast, we decided to start working our way back to Gander. Driving down from the house, we could see whales in the mouth of the harbour so detoured to a lookout on a point not far from our house. We were joined by a carload of French tourists who were just as excited to see the whales as we were.

My cameras are for travelling and touring and not the quality I need for capturing whales and the like. My Galaxy Tablet is rather large and flat and catches the wind so stabilizing it on a cliff in NL is not easy either. I know it doesn’t look like much on video but it feels like SeaWorld times 20 every time I see whales!

From this look out we went down towards a little park or rest stop and watched again as the whales put on a show.

We finally dragged ourselves out of Grates Cove and, as per our tradition, took the other side of the peninsula home. There’s not sense driving the same road twice in NL when there are so many beautiful places to see. Travelling down Route 70 we stopped several places to watch whales and look at amazing views of fog banks, sunlit sea or cliffs and waves. I caught a glimpse of a sea arch in Burnt Point and we drove into the community for a better view. Again, treated by whales and sea birds, it was hard to get back into the car.

Burnt  Point, NL sea arch

Can you imagine seeing this every day? Such a beautiful place. Even with the buffeting of my microphone you can hear the sea birds. Next summer, I’ll have a decent camera to prove how many whales were there too!

In Western Bay, this house was all decorated for Canada Day and I’m guessing the Kittiwake Cottage across the road was their rental property. From either house you could see boats seining for capelin on this gorgeous day.

Happy Canada Day, Western Bay, NL
Happy Canada Day, Western Bay, NL
Kittiwake Cottage, Western Bay, NL
Kittiwake Cottage, Western Bay, NL
The view from either house. Western Bay, NL
The view from either house. Western Bay, NL

There are many places to stay as you approach the highway in particular but our new find is the Butter Pot B and B in Holyrood. On our way home from Grates Cove we got news that required us to return to the area in two days. We ended up booking at room in this gorgeous B and B. The grounds have one repeated awards for the nicest commercial property but it’s actually park-like. We saw three rabbits on the lawn and this is apparently a common (but unwanted) sight.

Our room was large and comfortable as was the shared bathroom.

Butter Pot B and B, Holyrood, NL
Butter Pot B and B, Holyrood, NL
Water feature on Butter Pot B and B grounds
Water feature on Butter Pot B and B grounds

We were asked on check in if we like bacon and eggs and assured them we did. Dining with a couple from Switzerland, the breakfast table was set when we came downstairs. Cereal was offered, but we all declined. Then we were served juice,  a fruit cup and homemade apricot tea buns with homemade jams. Each person got a personal thermos of very good coffee and THEN our cooked breakfast! The price for a B and B was very reasonable but the breakfast served in several courses made it a real deal.

Cereal, juice, fruit cup, tea buns, coffee and THEN the big cooked breakfast. Butter Pot B and B, Holyrood, NL
Cereal, juice, fruit cup, tea buns, coffee and THEN the big cooked breakfast. Butter Pot B and B, Holyrood, NL

So, It’s Aug 8 and I finally got Canada Day ready to post…..it’s been a busy summer. Keep following or checking back!

I do know that on my next trip around this peninsula, probably next summer, I’ll be staying in Ochre Pit Cove at Salty Seas Cottages to try to see some of the amazing whale action they posted this year. So many places, so little room on the old Visa card!

Fog clinging to Bacalieu Island near Grates Cove
Fog clinging to Bacalieu Island near Grates Cove

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