In June 2022, I completed the 700 km Island Walk, around Prince Edward Island. You can read about that walk over several posts, starting with this one.
This was before Hurricane Fiona caused so much damage on the Island, impacting many of the places which I had visited. Some of what I describe below may have changed by the time you do the Island Walk, but please, don’t let that stop you. PEI needs your tourist support as it recovers.
This post is about days 4-8 of my walk, between Summerside and Tignish. The links below have the details from the Island Walk website for the Sections that I covered.
Note, by the way, that the section #s on the official website are somewhat confusingly labelled based on each start point, and since the overall walk start point is also the finish point, the 1st section is labelled as “32-1” with its accompanying web page titled as Section 32 (because it starts at the end of the last section, which is section 32) and goes to the end of section 1; thus the 2nd section is labelled as “1-2” and its webpage is titled Section 1, and so on. Whatever, the links below reflect the sections as I walked them.
- Section 4-5 – 22 km from Summerside to Wellington
- Section 5-6 – 23 km from Wellington to McNeil’s Mills
- Section 6-7 – 23 km from McNeil’s Mills to O’Leary
- Section 7-8 – 19 km from O’Leary to Miminegash
- Section 8-9 – 20 km from Miminegash to Christopher Cross
- Section 9-10 – 20 km from Christopher Cross to Anglo Tignish
I highly recommend that you use the Island Walk website and its directions for the details of the official route, since that route can change from time to time such as for detours around major road works. That said, I also encourage you to use the official route and its sections as a starting point. Find your own pace, detour as and when your fancy takes you, walk the sections in whatever order seems sensible, and remember – everybody walks their own camino.
If you are planning on doing the walk in chunks spread over several months or years, this portion is pretty self-contained and covers the western end of the island.
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Onto the Confederation Trail
With the first portion of the Walk completed, I had time for reflection. Charlottetown to Summerside had been road walking virtually all the way, starting in the city and progressing through countryside to the Argyle Shore. That had proven to be both a gentle introduction to PEI’s rolling countryside and quiet back-road ways, and at the same time a somewhat tougher intro than I had imagined – all those river and creek valleys creating a lot more up and down than I’d anticipated.
I had gained 3 days worth of blisters along with my newfound appreciation of some of the hidden challenges of the Walk – no place to sit down when road walking! – so it was with some relief that in looking at the next few Stages on the map, the prospect of mostly following the Confederation Trail was appealing.
It didn’t look too challenging – flat and straight for the most part, and I had already learned that the Trail is easy walking, with a firm gravelled surface and rest benches every few km. My plan was to use this easy stretch to continue to build up my legs and toughen my feet while gaining some extra distance so that when I got to the more scenic bits such as the North Cape or the Cavendish Shore, I could take my time.
Since the next 3 Stages of the Walk were all along the Trail, between Summerside and O’Leary, I decided to do them in two days, which meant putting in more than 30 km each on Days 4 and 5 of my journey. It also meant that, since Ann had now returned home to Lunenburg and I was walking away from my accommodation base in Summerside, I needed to arrange some transport.
Before going to bed that night, I contacted a local taxi company in Summerside and booked a taxi to pick me up at 3:30 the next afternoon – I reckoned I could get from Summerside to my Day 4 goal at Port Hill Station Road (halfway through Section 6) by then, and it would give me time the next evening to rest and recuperate. I went to bed early, knowing I had two big days in front of me.
At about 3:30 in the morning, I awoke suddenly to the bleep of my phone. The Toronto phone number on the screen was unfamiliar, a misdial I thought. I cursed the fool who had called at that hour, switched off the phone, and grumpily tossed and turned and tried to get back to sleep.
When my alarm chirpped in the morning, I was feeling a bit frazzled, after that interrupted sleep. But coffee helped get me going, and I quickly packed my lunch and some snacks, ensured that my rain gear was handy, checked the blister bandages on my toes one last time, and headed out on Day 4.
The weather had changed a bit, after several days of sun. The temps were moderate, and there was more humidity in the air with some rain forecast. I was also in a stretch of the Walk where there were no roadside options for lunch, so I was carrying water, snacks, and food, on top of rain gear and dry clothes, making for a relatively heavy pack for a day walk.
The descriptions of Sections 5, 6, and 7 on the Island Walk website are telling in their dull, repetitive tone: “a quiet walk along the tree-lined Confederation Trail”; “Confederation Trail walking through small communities along the way”; “Confederation Trail walking through some small communities”.
So while I wasn’t expecting Yonge Street at rush hour, the quiet still felt a bit eerie. I could hear myself breathing (a bit laboured, still out of shape), and the crunch of my boots on gravel, a faint hum of distant traffic, crow caws and cackles, leaf-stirrings in breezes. It quickly became apparent that the parts of the Walk along the Confederation Trail would not exactly be hectic, and unfortunately, not the most scenic either.
The Trail does, after all, follow an old rail line, and rail lines are laid out to minimize grades, slopes, embankments, bridges, and curves, all of which translated into some stretches where boredom was my biggest challenge. In fact, during one long, looonnnnggg 11 km straight-as-an-arrow stretch, I practiced walking with my eyes closed. I could get up to about 40 steps before I would drift a bit off the path.
There is some greenery of course, often quite a bit, with brush and birches and balsams along the trail edges, and often the trees arch up and over the path to make a lovely green tunnel. Through breaks in the greenery, you glimpse the fields through which you’re traversing, newly planted with potatoes in early June, and as you get closer to O’Leary, you go through forested sections too, with boggy, marshy stretches dotted with bog cotton and bog orchids which break up the monotony.
The late spring/early summer bloom was in full swing – lupins were popping out everywhere, along with other wildflowers. Birds were common, and there were squirrels and chipmunks chittering and scurrying in escort to my steps.
Humans, though, were in short supply. Aside from a few dog walkers just outside Summerside, I met few people, and those I did meet were usually cyclists rather than fellow walkers. My journey seemed to have its own secret itinerary, the only (lonely) Island Walker. Though I did notice that some magic spell produced a passing cyclist whenever I stepped off the trail for a pee.
Over the course of days 4 and 5, as I walked these sections I gradually grew a bit numbed by the steady rhythm of my steps, the same scenery lining each kilometer, the same crows cawing in the trees. The only noticeable difference was the weather, which warmed over those 2 days – enough to bring out the mosquitoes in their hordes.
Section 5 ends in the little town of Wellington, which is nice enough, with a pretty park in the centre of the town where I stopped for a picnic lunch on Day 4,
but early in the season it was a bit chilly sitting there, and the town tourist info centre was closed along with the public toilets. A kind local refilled my water bottle for me in her house, but I couldn’t shake a ghost-town shiver, and cut my rest short to get going again.
I had reached Wellington after completing Section 5’s 22 km over about 4 hours of walking, and I still had another 12 km or so planned for that day to take in about half of Section 6. It took a bit of grunting and stretching to loosen up after lunch, and 10 minutes of brisk pace to restart my circulation, and then I was back into my walking rhythm again. There were about 2 hours in front of me to reach Port Hill Station Road, where the taxi from Summerside would pick me up.
As I trudged along, the sun came out, and I stripped off some layers to get down to my T-shirt. Almost immediately, I felt a nip on the back of my neck. And another. Then one on the back of my head through my hat. Soon I was flapping my arms and waving my hat, a scarecrow fluttering in a hurricane, swatting in all directions. My long-sleeve T-shirt went back on. Then my rain jacket, zipped up to the neck.
What the Island Walk website hadn’t told me in its boring little blurbs about the quiet charms of the Trail was that my introduction to the inhabitants of the Island would include ALL of them, in particular the several varieties of biting insects that lurk in those green verges.
Every rest stop that afternoon brought bugs, so I kept moving. I reached my pick-up point with 30 minutes to spare, but I didn’t care because there was a blessed patch of open space by the road where the breeze blew the little beasties away. I took off my pack and my rain jacket, and slumped onto the grass. Day 4 done.
My taxi arrived a bit early, thankfully, and as we headed off I chatted with the driver. “So you’re the walker who wanted a 3:30 pick-up?”. “Yes, why?”. “Well, one of the other drivers came out here last night at 3:30 am, and wondered who would want a pick up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere at that time of the night. He tried to call you, and didn’t get an answer, and then he realized that the dispatcher had forgotten to write down ‘PM’ next to the 3:30 time”. Oh my. That explained my broken sleep.
So that evening, when I called the taxi company to book both my morning drop off and my afternoon pickup, I was very careful to clearly enunciate “8:00 AM” and “4 PM”. Lesson learned.
Day 5 dawned a bit warmer than day 4, and as the taxi picked me up in the morning, I looked forward to this tranche of my trek with mixed emotions; a sense both of foreboding and of anticipation – I knew what to expect, after all.
The driver that morning was a young guy, quite friendly and voluble in a laconic, laid-back way that reminded me of The Dude in the film The Big Lebowski. “I’m doing the Island Walk”, I said in answer to his silent question contained in the glance at my pack. “What’s that?”. I explained the idea behind the walk, and that I was learning a lot about the Island in doing it. “Cool. Why are you doing it?”. “It’s like a Camino, a pilgrimage, a way to let your mind go as you walk and let yourself just absorb the sights and sounds around you. A way to step away from screens and phones. A way to just be.” “I dig you, man.” The Dude abides.
As soon as I got onto the Trail, I tried to put those words into motion, and let my mind just go. But the breeze was cut off by the sheltering trailside brush, from which the mosquitoes emerged in their legions. My pace increased, as it had the day before, a futile attempt to outrun the buggers, and any hope of Zen contemplation disappeared in a haze of sweat and flapping. Like the previous day, each rest stop was brief and harried, as I sat huddled in my rain jacket with the hood zipped up tight round my face, sweating and swatting while eating a snack.
With an assist from mosquito-generated tailwinds, I plowed through the 34 kilometers I’d planned for that day, completing the rest of Section 6 and all of Section 7 at record pace, ignoring my sore blistered feet in my haste to get to O’Leary and away from the bugs. I reached town with an hour to go before my taxi pick-up, exhausted and sweat-soaked.
The local donut shop provided a very welcome, very hot, and very large cup of tea, into which I dumped a very large handful of sugar packets. I could feel the warm caffeine and glucose radiate outwards from my stomach as I slowly regained my equilibrium, sipping it slouched on a bench in lovely breezy bugless shade, dreaming of a nice hot shower.
After a long wait, long enough for my body to seize up like salt-crusted iron in every joint and muscle, my taxi pulled up. I staggered slowly over and tumbled in. The driver was a young woman who politely ignored the wet-dog smell with which I filled the car. “I’m doing the Island Walk”, I explained. “Oh, are you raising money for a charity or something”? “No, it’s just something I wanted to do”. Silence, and then, “Well, hope you have good weather”.
When I got back to my place in Summerside and stripped off, I looked in the mirror to see that my neck and shoulders and hands were covered in welts where the bugs had bitten through my shirt and trousers and gotten at my unprotected hands and face. It would not be the last time that happened.
Tignish and the Island’s West Coast
Since I had finished the 68 km of Sections 5, 6, and 7 of the Walk in 2 rather than the suggested 3 days, and had sweated off litres while doing it, my body was scraping the few scraps of energy reserves that I had left by the time I was dropped off in O’Leary on the morning of Day 6, to start Section 8 of my journey. The website says this Section “starts on the Confederation Trail, then switches to dirt road walking and ends with a short walk along the shoulder of Rte 14 with coastal vistas.”
Which meant the day began with, ugh, another 6 km or so of the Confederation Trail leading out of O’Leary, and the bugs that morning were still voracious. The air was chilly at first, about 8C, and it was with a morbid fascination that I noticed how the bugs perked up as the air warmed past 10C. Within an hour or so, I was zipped to the chin in my rain jacket again and wildly conducting the pestilential orchestra.
Near the end of this stretch, I met a couple who were doing the Island Walk route on bikes. They were riding west from O’Leary and came up behind me, saw my pack, and stopped to ask if I was doing the Walk as well. The mosquitoes kept us moving, so our chat was brief while they pushed their bikes along. It turned out that we were all staying at the Tignish Heritage Inn that evening, and we wished each other well as they mounted up and cycled off, leaving me in my cloud of torment, walking as fast as I could to gain the sea breezes on the coast road.
It was a welcome change to finally leave the Trail at Bloomfield, and I stripped off my rain jacket to take a break in an open space next to the gates that guard the Trail. The sun was out by now, and I savoured the simple pleasure of a bug-free banana.
Refreshed, I followed a succession of dirt roads leading me west towards the coastal Route 14. Walking along open roads brought not only a welcome escape from the depths of diptera culicidae, there was pleasantly bucolic scenery as well – farms and sea views, and little dips in the road, and ponds and creeks to break it all up.
I met my first fox here – a vixen. She wanted to walk along the dirt road in the same direction as me, but she wasn’t sure if I was a threat or not. She looked me up and down and quickly decided that I was harmless. It must have been the Tilley hat – who can look like a threat wearing that? She gave me the fox’s version of an eye roll and trotted off carrying a rabbit, lunch for her kits.
When I reached Route 14 and turned north towards Miminegash, I was more than 3 hours into my day and growing hungrier and thirstier and increasingly foot sore. I needed a break, but I couldn’t find anywhere to take it. Around every bend in the road, I hoped to see a church or a community centre or a gas station where I could sit down, but there were only farms and fields and vehicles disappearing up the road.
Eventually I gave up on such luxuries, and coming upon the vacant lot where a house had once been, its shaded driveway off the road looked too inviting to pass by. I flopped down onto the ground for a rest while I ate my lunch, blessing my foresight at having packed a light seat cushion. The passing cars slowed for a look at this curious person, but it was a relief to be out of the mosquitoes.
Refueled and rested, somewhat, I looked at the map. My heart sank as I counted off the km to my planned day end target of Nail Pond – near 20 km. My brain slowly roved over my body, taking stock of my aching feet and legs. Too much. It was just too much to do that day.
I was still clinging to my more or less original plan, to cover a bit more than 30 km that day. But that plan hadn’t accounted for the fact that since I was changing my accommodation base from Summerside to Tignish, my pack was fully loaded with all my belongings, rather than the lighter loads I’d been carrying the past few days. The extra weight, the previous two long days, and the battles with the mosquitoes had drained me. I mentally dialled it back a bit, and adjusted my sights onto Skinner’s Pond, a more reasonable 15 km away. And once more into the breach, towards Miminegash.
I was ready for another break by the time I plodded up to the Miminegash municipal offices and fire station about an hour later, where Section 8 of the Walk ends. I found a shaded spot to sit for a snack and some water. After 20 minutes, I told myself to get up. 10 minutes later I sent a sternly worded memo to my feet. 10 minutes after that, I begged my legs to move. And finally, a futile 10 minutes past the ultimatum I’d given my body, my brain waved a sad white flag at my conscience and conceded that neither of us was going any further that day.
So I called the Tignish Heritage Inn, with which I had arranged transport from Nail Pond, and asked to be picked up at Miminegash instead. As I waited for my ride, a surge of guilt sent my mind in circles – now I’m behind schedule. How will I make up my time? What to do, what to do?
When Barbara from the Inn pulled up in her dusty big black pickup, I hauled my weary bones up into the seat and slumped. We chatted a bit, and I repeated the observations that had been running through my head – why were there no rest benches or stops along the Walk route. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a sort of Friends of the Island Walk, locals along the route who put out water or lawn chairs to give Walkers a break. I was glad she let me vent a bit.
But my mood lifted as we reached the Inn – it’s a converted convent, one of the few brick buildings I’d seen on the Island, and set into gardens surrounded by trees.
It looked like an oasis, and so it proved to be.
My day had ended early, so when Barbara asked if I needed anything, I imposed upon her for a desperately needed cup of tea, which I took up to my cool and quiet room, to brood.
Sitting with my boots off and into fresh clothes, I took a hard look at the rest of my planned route. My feet were tired, and I’d over-worked myself. If the walk wasn’t to turn into a slogging endurance test, I realized that I needed to dial back the distances I was trying to complete each day. If that meant adding a few days to the duration of the journey, so be it. But that would add accommodation nights, which would bump up the costs, and that made me feel guilty again. Here I was on my personal journey, hogging our vacation budget for the year. Why?
I limped back and forth across my room a few times, pacing and thinking, and then called home. As Ann and I talked it through, I could hear her chuckling. “I was wondering when you’d figure out that you were pushing yourself too much”. (Don’t you hate it when your partner is right!). “Don’t worry, we’ll make it work”.
After that chat and what my brother would have called a Come-To-Jesus moment of clarity, I went back out for a walk around the town of Tignish. As I limped about, looking for a grocery store, it slowly dawned on me what a lovely little town it is. It’s big enough to have the shops and services you need, yet small enough to take in with a brief 30 minute stroll. I passed a playground and park, and noticed a sign that marked the official start of the Confederation Trail.
273 km from that spot was Elmira, my destination in a couple of weeks. How would I get there in one piece?
With that sobering thought clouding my mood, I wandered over to the local Co-Op, to find that the store was closing in a few minutes. I dashed through, grabbing a salad for dinner and some snacks for the next day.
Back at the Inn, I spent the rest of the evening working through my dinner, checking maps, measuring distances, resetting end-of-day waypoints, rejigging accommodation reservations, and finalizing my new plan. But that night, I slept better – the new plan made sense. I can do this, I told myself.
The next morning at breakfast, I met two couples who were doing the Walk, after a fashion. One couple was from Cornwall, Ontario, and so they had started from Cornwall, PEI rather than Charlottetown. They had actually begun around the same time I had, intending to walk the full route from accommodation to accommodation in the manner they’d followed a few years previously when they had done the Camino de Santiago.
They quickly realized, however, that it was impractical to do the walk that way – without booking ahead of time there was no guarantee of finding a place to stay since in many cases options were limited and those that existed often were not near the walk route. Instead they were now driving to towns such as Tignish that were on the route, and then day-walking those portions of Walk handy to their accommodation. They had done the North Cape the previous day, and that morning were headed towards Alberton to do some walking round there.
The other couple were also from Ontario (Ottawa this time) and turned out to be the people I’d met the previous day, biking on the Confederation Trail outside of O’Leary. In chatting I learned that they had also done the Camino in Spain, about 15 years ago, and having researched the Island Walk they had realized that they couldn’t do it the same way and so had decided to bike instead. They had chosen to start in Montague, and were planning to finish the route in about 8-9 days, since they could cover around 75-80km per day.
As we lingered over coffee and chatted about the Island, we came to agreement on a few realities about the Walk. We loved the scenery and raved about the friendliness of the Islanders, but we lamented the scarcity of facilities such as washrooms and places to rest along the way. Still, we could all see the potential for the Walk to attract tourists and, more importantly, tourist dollars, to some out of the way parts of the province. And in the meantime, we told ourselves, we were having fun traveling the route while it was still in its infancy. We wished each other good luck and safe travels as we headed our separate ways, and as I did so I wondered if I would meet other walkers – so far, I seemed to be the only person actually walking the whole route in one go.
With that thought tumbling lightly in the background, Barbara drove me back to Miminegash to the start of Section 9 – “road walking with great views of the Northumberland Strait, Skinner’s Pond, and lobster boats setting traps.” This portion follows Route 14 for about 20 km northwards, to end at Christopher Cross, about 4 km outside of Tignish. My new plan was to do just Section 9 and then walk back into Tignish to the Inn, making for a 24 km day instead of 30+.
It was a day of perfect early summer weather, and having had a deep and restorative sleep along with a 2nd cup of coffee, and carrying a lighter pack, my feet no longer felt like they were encased in lead boots, my legs were springy. The scenery to my left was similar to the previous day – blue, blue sea below a blue, blue sky – while to my right, deep green grasses waved in fresh breezes,
with fields and farms and lobster boats on shore racks being readied for the season, and all the while the rolling road led north, up and down and round a bend. I gulped sea air so fresh it squeaked as I inhaled it down to my toes.
In no time – well, 2 hours – I reached the Stompin’ Tom Connors Centre in Skinners Pond, the little hamlet where the iconic Canadian troubadour was raised by his adoptive parents.
I was looking forward to touring the museum after humming Stompin’ Tom songs to myself all morning – The Hockey Song and Sudbury Saturday Night and Bud the Spud – and was mightily miffed to find that I was 2 days ahead of its season opening.
The staff were busy setting up the cafe and the gift shop and preparing exhibits, and apologetic as they explained that I couldn’t tour the museum. But their native Island kindness opened the door anyway, to let me use the washroom (“Mind the wet floor, I’ve just mopped”) and fill my water bottle. I came back outside to the lovely sun, and noticed an old wooden chair on the front porch, so I borrowed it for a while and took an early lunch break, basking. If I’d had a black cowboy hat, I would have teetered back on the chair, tipped the hat down over my face, and taken a proper nap.
But I didn’t. So after that rest, I mosied back out onto the road and walked at a leisurely pace up and down the gentle hills, staring at the sea. In what seemed like no time at all, I had reached Christopher Cross and the end of Section 9. From there, a tree-lined secondary road took me into Tignish, walking with a smug little glow of contentment and feeling far less jangled than I had at the end of any of my previous days’ walks. This shorter-day thing felt good, on a fine early summer day, heading to a lovely quiet inn, where I could relax with a good book and a cup of tea.
The North Cape
My mellow mood held with another good night’s sleep and the promise of fine weather for walking on Day 8. I walked out of the Inn to do Section 10 of the walk, to which I was looking forward because of the enticement of the blurb on the website – “A road walk past windmills, then spectacular views of Elephant Rock, Black Marsh, and North Cape lighthouse. Part of Black Marsh Nature Trail.”. This Section starts at Christopher Cross, which for me meant a 4 km walk out of town to return to where I’d left off the day before, and it was, again, a pleasant stroll on a lovely morning.
From Christopher Cross, the Walk follows Route 182 up the northwest tip of the Island towards North Cape, until you leave the paved road and join the Black Marsh Trail. It was quite simply one of my favourite stretches of the entire Walk. The North Cape itself, with its surrounding conservation area, and the many tall windmills churning away, was a new world compared to the farm-filled countryside and Confederation Trail that I’d been walking through.
The thrum and hum of the windmill blades is thrilling as they turn, seemingly within reach, just over your head – the energy they generate is more than physical. For the first time, I could feel what I assumed was the pilgrim’s peace that the Camino brings. Be the journey, not the destination.
A few short km along the Black Marsh Trail, past lookouts over red sandstone cliffs, brings you to the cape itself. I hurried out to the pointiest edge of the island, surrounded on 3 sides by water, and took a smuggy-smug selfie standing near the lighthouse.
I had reached the northwest tip of the province, and was about to turn the corner and head 300 km to East Point all the way at the other end.
There’s a nice little visitor’s centre at North Cape, though unfortunately the restaurant was closed for lack of staff, and I took a leisurely half hour to nose about. I would have stayed longer, but I knew there was more than half my day’s distance still to do, so, reluctantly, I continued on, now east and turning south, back towards Tignish.
The eastern shore of the North Cape abuts the Gulf of St Lawrence rather than the Northumberland Strait on the western side, and the sea is different here – shallower, green-blue waters. There were many fishing boats out at the beginning of the lobster season for those parts. The sounds of their engines drifted in on the breeze.
The day that had begun with sun was now turning cloudy, and I remembered that there were showers forecast for that afternoon. I picked up my pace and clocked off a quick few kilometers. Reaching Seacow Pond Harbour, I took advantage of a well-placed bench to eat my picnic lunch while I watched the fishermen bring in their catch, and then continued on towards Tignish, trying to outpace the coming rain.
Near Anglo Tignish, some showers forced me into my rain jacket, though it cleared again after a few minutes. Section 10 ends here, just north of Tignish,, but since I was walking back into Tignish anyway, I kept going along Route 12 for a couple more km to give myself a headstart on Section 11, before I turned west into town. I reached it as rain spots spattered the sidewalk, and I just had time to pick up a takeaway fish-and-chips from Shirley’s Cafe before beating the heavier drops back to the Inn.
And so I finished the second part of my walk. Five days during which physical challenges forced me to replan the walk to ease some of the aches and pains, and avoid what was looking like drudgery. But also five days during which the payoff for a mosquito-clouded Trail slog was 3 days of beautiful coastline and the wonderful North Cape.
I could finally say that I was enjoying the journey. The next stretch would be a chance to see if my new plan would help me find equal pleasure along the coming sections of the Walk. I was looking forward to it.
Day 4 – Summerside to Port Hill Station
- A bit overcast but in the end dry, though warm and muggy with some breezes to help.
- Completed all of Section 5 (22 km from Summerside to Wellington) and roughly half of Section 6 (which in total is 23 km from Wellington to McNeil Mills)
- Daily GPS distance = about 34 km, elapsed time over 8 hours
- Fitbit daily stats = 35.9 km, 48,100 steps, 429 exercise minutes, 28 flights of stairs
Day 5 – Port Hill Station to O’Leary
- Overcast with showers forecast, though these held off till I left O’Leary. Still muggy, with no breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay
- Completed the rest of Section 6 and all of Section 7 (23 km from McNeil Mills to O’Leary)
- Daily GPS distance = about 32 km, elapsed time just under 8 hours
- Fitbit daily stats = 32.7 km, 43,800 steps, 409 exercise minutes, 16 flights of stairs
Day 6 – O’Leary to Miminegash
- Sunny day, but no breeze at first, until I reached Route 14 on the coast, and then it was lovely and fresh
- Completed Section 7 (official route says 19 km from O’Leary to Miminegash but it felt like I did more than that). I had planned to do part of Section 8 as well to reach Skinner’s Pond, but ran out of energy and bailed out at Miminegash
- Daily GPS distance – 23 km, elapsed time just over 5 hours
- Fitbit daily stats – 28.2 km (includes an evening walk exploring the town of Tignish), 37,800 steps, 335 exercise minutes, 23 flights of stairs
Day 7 – Miminegash to Christopher Cross to Tignish
- Gorgeous day, sunny, warm but not hot, lovely breeze all day
- Completed Section 8 (which is 20 km from Miminegash to Christopher Cross) and then walked an extra few km from there into the town of Tignish where I was staying
- Daily GPS distance (including the extra walk to town) – 25 km, elapsed time just over 6 hours
- Fitbit daily stats – 28.8 km, 38,600 steps, 328 exercise minutes, 47 flights of stairs
Day 8 – Tignish to Christopher Cross to Anglo Tignish to Tignish
- Another nice day to start, then with some showers in the afternoon. Warm and breezy.
- Completed Section 9 (which is 20 km from Christopher Cross up and around North Cape to Anglo Tignish). Tacked on more by walking out of Tignish to the start of the Section and then back into town at the end. That also picked up a few km of Section 10 (which officially goes from Anglo Tignish to Alberton)
- Daily GPS distance (including extra walks out/into town) – 29 km, elapsed time just under 7 hours
- Fitbit daily stats – 30.3 km, 40,600 steps, 355 exercise minutes, 34 flights of stairs
Wellington, Alberton, Tyne Valley, and Tignish between them have several options for accommodation and dining, and there are also some scattered B&Bs and resorts in the general area, That said, these accommodations are not, for the most part, directly on the walking route so it’s not very practical to try walking from accommodation to accommodation for these Sections of the Island Walk.
Instead, it’s more practical to book something and then arrange pick-up and drop-off transportation to/from the walk route. The exception might be for Section 10, where you could walk in and out of Tignish as long as you don’t mind adding about 5 km to the Section length. I’d also strongly recommend booking accommodation well ahead, especially in high season, since there aren’t a ton of places at which to stay.
If you have a non-walking partner or spouse who’s able to do the driving, then I’d say stay in Summerside for a couple of days, and then move on to Tignish – both of these places make a good base for a few nights, with some grocery shops, restaurants, pharmacies, bakeries, etc. so that you can keep yourself supplied and looked after. An alternative might be Alberton, which is a bit further south and east from Tignish so you could use it as a base for both North Cape and for parts of the middle of the Island. Either way, if you’re on your own as I was in this part of the Walk, then you may still want to follow a similar plan and rely on booked transport.
Summerside has a couple of taxi companies that cover most of the west end of the island – they will run you all the way out to North Cape if you want. That can be expensive, however – expect rates in the region of $2 per km. I did use them a few times in this part of the walk and ran up a bill of several hundred dollars. When I reached Tignish, I arranged transport through the Tignish Heritage Inn where I stayed, and Barbara, the manager, was very helpful and friendly in arranging it – thank you!.
Finally, other transportation options exist as well. There are some tour operators who will provide rides. There is also the T3 bus network, which can get you to/from some of the points on the Island Walk route. Check their website for full schedule info.
As for sustenance, in these sections you’ll need to pack a lunch every day and I would recommend taking some snacks as well. I saw only a couple of options to buy something along the way (e.g. the coffee shop at Richmond Station beside the Trail between Wellington and O’Leary, some shops in O’Leary, a convenience store in Miminegash, or the shops in Tignish). And don’t forget the water – there are no places to fill up unless you knock on someone’s door, so in my case I carried 1.5 litres with me.
As for bio pit stops, on the 68 km of Confederation Trail between Summerside and O’Leary, I passed one composter toilet, and that was close to O’Leary. Otherwise you’ll have to improvise. Judging by the bits of toilet paper scattered along the Trail, most people just step off the path into the bushes as needed.
However, on the road sections after you leave the Trail, it’s a trickier proposition. Route 14 along the North Cape coast up to Christopher Cross passes through open farmland, with few clumps of bushes or copses of trees, so plan your water consumption accordingly. In general, for pretty much all of these sections, if you need to pee, you’re either sneaking into the bushes by the side of the road, or holding on till you reach a building like the Stompin’ Tom Center in Skinners Pond. There were no gas stations, donut shops, or diners anywhere along the route.
Also thinly spread in this area are churches, community centres, or museums where you can stop for a rest (with the notable exception of the Stompin’ Tom Centre at Skinner’s Pond and the Visitor’s Centre at North Cape) so outside of them you are back to improvisation. For example, I found an abandoned home along Route 14 where I sat in the old driveway in the shade of a tree – at least it was flat and dry. My Mountain Equipment Co-op seat cushion came in handy that day.
And one last thing – as I write this in the spring of 2023, I’ve visited the Island Walk website several times to refresh my memory on things. I was pleased to see that in the year since I did my research in March of 2022, the Island Walk website has been updated and expanded. The Walk has continued to grow in popularity, and now for each Section there are more recommendations for dining and accommodation than previously. Hopefully, this will only continue to improve, so if you’re reading this blog post in 2025, I hope you have an even easier time of it in planning your walk than I had in planning mine.
Next – Tignish to Kensington
Other Posts About this Journey
- The Island Walk (a summary)
- The Island Walk Part 1 – Charlottetown to Summerside
- The Island Walk Part 2 – Summerside to Tignish
- The Island Walk Part 3 – Tignish to Kensington
- The Island Walk Part 4 – Kensington to North Lake
- The Island Walk Part 5 – North Lake to Murray River
- The Island Walk Part 6 – Murray River to Charlottetown
- The Island Walk – Plans, Gear, and Lessons
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