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 20-24 of my walk, between North Lake and Murray River. 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 22-23 – 22 km from Elmira to Bothwell
- Section 23-24 – 21 km from Bothwell to Souris
- Section 24-25 – 20 km from Souris to Howe Bay
- Section 25-26 – 24 km from Howe Bay to Cardigan
- Section 26-27 – 12 km from Cardigan to Montague
- Section 27-28 – 21 km from Montague to Gaspereaux
- Section 28-29 – 20 km from Gaspereaux to Murray River
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 portions of the walk spread over several months or years, this portion covers the scenic East Point and some lovely bays and inlets along the south-east shoreline.
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Turning the Corner at East Point
Having reached North Lake, I knew that I was into the final legs of my journey. I was completely immersed in the Walk by now, the daily routine of rise-walk-eat-rest a constant. I was anxious to start my next leg, on Day 21.
That day would see the symbolic turning of a corner, by rounding East Point. I’d be able to say that I’d walked the length of the Island, Tip to Tip. And then the looming home stretch, westbound walking back to Charlottetown and the finish. Home.
Ann drove the long, long morning run out to North Lake, to leave me by the shoulder of Route 16 as she returned to Murray Harbour for a quiet day. I picked up where I’d left off on Section 23, to “road-walk past North Lake. Opportunities to beach walk all the way to East Point, then a road walk to Bothwell.”
The tide was in when I left North Lake, which prevented beach walking, but the compensation was that I could walk faster along the road than I would have on the beach, so I reached East Point more quickly. It’s about a 5 km side trip from the measured length of Section 23, down Lighthouse Road from Route 16 to the tip and back, and it’s well worth it.
I hurried along, wanting to get there now!, so that I could say I’d reached it and so that I could have time to savour it. There’s a little museum at the base of the lighthouse, where I dumped my pack and paid the fee to quickly climb to the top, staring out futilely to the east hoping for a glimpse of the highlands of Cape Breton Island.
Coming back down more slowly, I browsed the photos and memorabilia scattered on each of the floors you pass through. Reaching the bottom again, I stopped to chat with the museum attendants, who wondered about my pack. “I’m doing the Island Walk”, I said. “Good for you”, they echoed, with that inner shake of the head that says you wouldn’t catch me walking that far.
I wandered back outside to the tippiest tip of the Island, and took the obligatory selfie.
I found a bench in the sun and sat gazing at the waves while I ate a snack.
I was in a melancholic study. The thought that I’d soon be finishing the Walk kept running on a loop, stuck like an annoying earworm, that song you can’t get out of your head. What will I do when I’m done? Contemplate and ruminate, bathing in the sun. The deep-seated desire to finish, to go home. Intellectually, I knew I had several days and more than 150 km to go before I reached Charlottetown; emotionally, East Point meant it was all downhill from here.
In my working life managing software projects, I’d often experienced what I called completionitis, a burning drive to finish a project so fierce that the desire overwhelmed my rational self, tempting me to cut corners and ignore issues so that I could say “done”; and forcing me to counter that by pulling back on the reins, to slow down, to temper that need to say “done” with the knowledge that I must actually say “done, and done well”.
Is that what I was starting to feel? Completionitis? Finishing just for the sake of getting it over with, just to say I did it, just so that I could move on to something else? How would I savour the remainder of the journey? How would I feel when I crossed that finish line?
I had no answer to those questions, and a young family with two rambunctious kids broke my reverie in any case. “You won’t finish by sitting here thinking about it”, as my conscience reminded me. Getting to my feet, I took one last look round, and with both a physical and a symbolic shrug of my shoulders, put my back to the Point, and walked west.
Rejoining Route 16, I followed it south and then west (west!) towards Bothwell. The views changed as I neared the Northumberland Strait shoreline. As I passed a small cattle enclosure near the road, I smiled as 20 pairs of eyes spotted me, as 20 curious calves wandered over to the fence to inspect me, and as 20 ambling heads followed me to the edge of their field. “I’m doing the Island Walk”, I said. “Mooooooo”, they replied. They stood staring after me as I continued down the road, asking myself what do cows think about?
“Who was that guy?”
“Where’s he going?”
“Let’s go eat some grass.”
“I like grass.”
Just past at the end point of Section 23, the marker for which is right outside Elliot’s General Store, I spotted a church and crossed the road to sit on its front steps. Sipping water, snacking on fruit, enjoying the sun, I once again said a silent thank you to the church community.
It was around mid-day, and I still had about 7 kilometers more to go; my goal from here was to complete most of Section 24, aiming to finish about 10 km outside of Souris. The website says that “from Bothwell, a walk out to Basin Head beach, then along peaceful dirt roads, entering Souris from quiet side streets”, but I missed wherever I was supposed to turn off Route 16 to get to the beach. In hindsight, that bugs me – I would have liked one more beach walk, along the locally famous Singing Sands.
Instead, continuing westwards on Route 16 past potato farms on my right which overlooked the sea on my left, I wandered unhurried. Eventually, I came upon the turn-off to the north onto gravel and red dirt roads, which would bring me into Souris the next morning through the quiet side streets mentioned in the guide.
That afternoon, quietly, slowly, walking to prolong the peace I felt, immersed in the routine of it, the automatic stride and the steady metronomic pace, I followed the road up into low hills, lush with farms on either side. Along Snake Road, north and west, to Baltic Road, then north to the junction with Greenvale Road.
Here at the crossroads was my pick-up point for the day. I waited in the shade of an old maple tree. Sometimes when I walk, I have running dialogs with myself, about all kinds of things – 5 ways to improve the Island Walk; what would I ask if I could interview John Lennon; explaining the reasons why on base percentage is more important than batting average. But not that day. Just thinking, just being, thankful I was in that place, at that time. Ann and I had a peaceful drive back to Murray Harbour on a soft summer afternoon. I was walking my own camino.
Through Souris (Pronounced “Surrey”)
The next morning dawned in Murray Harbour with low grey clouds, threatening rain, but as we drove back to my drop-off the air cleared to a cooler, fresher sky, a good day for walking. I fell immediately into my autopilot walking, brain on standby, senses aware but muted, following the red dirt track of Greenvale Road, the sort of backroads walking that I liked.
Just a pickup truck and then a tractor, otherwise no traffic for two hours of gentle walking, through fields, past trees, with few houses in view. A slow descent into Souris. I stopped at the edge of town for a short rest break sitting in the shade on the steps of St. Mary’s church. From there, a few blocks and I was into the weekday bustle of Souris’s downtown, to complete the remainder of Section 24.
It wasn’t yet noon, and having finished Section 24, I wanted to continue on and finish all of Section 25 that day; “a road walk, followed by beautiful vistas of Fortune River, then a road walk to Howe Bay blueberry fields.”
There’s a short boardwalk along the shoreline just west of downtown, and I followed that till it ended, then crossed a car park while watching some young gardeners from the local council plant the season’s greenery in a small park.
Joining Highway 2, I headed westwards parallel to but set back from the shoreline, and about a kilometer outside of Souris I climbed a hill and then stopped at the Over the Top Ice Cream Takeout. It was early for lunch, but I bought a delicious and stomach-busting toasted egg sandwich anyway, and taking that and a coffee, I climbed up to their roof top deck, sitting outside by myself, staring back to the east over the water.
From there, it was back to road walking along the busy Route 2 for several kilometers, busier with traffic than any of the roads I had walked earlier in the journey, but offering stunning views over the sea at Rollo Bay.
It was straight and flat, unchallenging, with a wide gravelled shoulder which I liked but littered with trash which I didn’t, and seemingly endless.
Coming to a school, I stopped for a moment to contemplate the large, tall-steepled white wooden church across the road, ornate for PEI with naves jutting out on each side and now apparently closed. I’d passed so many closed churches on my journey. Was there a message there?
A car pulling out the school parking lot paused, and the driver brought me back to earth as he asked if I was doing the Island Walk. Pleased, I said that yes I was, happy not to have to explain myself yet again. He knew the Walk, as a local council employee, and he not only wished me luck, he brightened my mood by saying I was getting close to the turn off at Fortune Bridge where I’d leave the busy Route 2 behind.
And sure enough, just a kilometer or two down the road, I followed the Island Walk marker signs to the left, bending south onto Route 310 towards Bay Fortune. This slowly unveiled itself as a lovely stretch of the Walk. Beautiful wooden homes, some large, some cottage-like, lined the west side of the road, their front windows with million-dollar views facing east over the water towards Fortune Harbour.
And after a couple of kilometers, I came upon the Inn at Bay Fortune, the luxurious hotel and restaurant run by Chastity Smith and her chef-husband Michael. I was half-tempted to walk up and beg for a water bottle refill, just to see if I’d get a red carpet welcome, but that seemed pretentious. I contented myself with borrowing a seat on one of the benches they’ve put up for their guests, by the roadside overlooking the water.
I was starting to tire as the afternoon wore on, but the route pulled me along around the peninsula past Eglington, which brought to mind the 30 years I’d lived in the mid-Toronto Yonge & Eglinton area, a topsy-turvy contrast of big city noise and bustle to this somnolent rural scene. With farms and fields as the view, I was trudging mindlessly towards the crossroads at Howe Bay that ends this Section of the route when I was startled to feel something nudge my hand.
I looked down into the warm, friendly eyes of Lady, a large and shaggy flop-eared tail-wagger of a dog, of uncertain ancestry yet of certain charm, who was curious about the stranger walking along her road. I couldn’t see anyone about, and she seemed intent on following me as I walked, so I stopped for a bit, scratching her ears, and asking “Where did you come from, you friendly wee beastie?”
Lady just wagged her tail and rolled onto her back for a good scratch. “You’re quite the flirt, aren’t you?”, I cooed as I rubbed her belly, just as a woman getting out of her car by a house across the road noticed us. She came up to ask if the dog was bothering me. “No”, I said, “but she seems to want to follow me”. “I’ll take her – she’s quite friendly as you can see, and lives back up the road a bit with friends of ours”. I gave Lady one last ear scratch in farewell. That was the first and only time that I met with a dog on the whole walk, though I heard a many a bark along the way. I added Lady to my list of friendly locals who had brightened my days.
Before that interlude, a slow-growing desperation had been building, and now it was becoming quite pressing – I needed a bio break, and as the road meandered round shallow curves I kept looking for some roadside bushes I could step into, but every likely spot seemed to be in full view from someone’s house. I was practically dancing down the road by the time I came to a little stand of trees by a field that seemed discrete enough.
Even then, I had just emerged back onto the road, sighing with relief, when the first car I’d seen in 20 minutes whizzed by. Not for the first time on the Walk, I marveled at how the magic act roadside relief could make traffic appear like a rabbit from a hat.
Finally, a couple kilometres later, I arrived at the crossroads I’d picked as my day’s end point, what I thought was the terminus of Section 25 at Howe Bay, but was actually a few hundred meters past that. Standing at the corner of Sailor’s Hope Road and Route 310, I looked at my watch, looked for the car, looked at the map, and looked despairingly up to the sky. No Ann. Since it had been a longish, 29 kilometer/7-hour day, I was tired and cranky. I called her to ask where she was. “I’m parked at the corner of Route 310 and Sailor’s Hope Road, like you said”.
I looked again at the map.
Slowly, it dawned on me that Sailor’s Hope Road follows a loop to the east, so it has two junctions off of Route 310 – I was at the northern one, she at the southern, about a kilometer away. I was too tired to walk that far. I called Ann and asked her to just follow the road she was on and it would curve round to where I was. When she pulled up, I was quite happy to open the door and let myself fall into the car.
Another lesson learned. Starting that evening, each night I traced the next day’s route using Google Maps in satellite view, so that I could pinpoint exactly where I would be at the end of the day. (And by the way, I realized in retracing that day’s finish that Sailor’s Hope Road is about 200 meters south of Grove Pine Road, the one I really wanted as the terminus of Section 25 and the start of Section 26.)
Once I had pinpointed my planned day-end target, I saved the location coordinates into a meeting invitation that I sent to Ann, setting the pick-up time. Once she accepted that, we now each had the exact same map coordinates stored into our respective phones. All she had to do was plug in her phone in the car, call up directions to the meeting location, and follow that using GPS. The glory of technology.
The Road to Cardigan
The next morning, as Ann dropped me off under sunny blue skies at the correct crossroads (ahem) at Howe Bay, I noticed another car pulling up just as I was getting out. I had taken only a few steps up the road when a woman got out, pulled on a knapsack, and spotted me. “Are you doing the Island Walk?”, she called. “Do you mind if we walk together for a bit?” And that’s how I met the only other fellow through-Walker I was to encounter on the entire journey.
Section 26 runs from Howe Bay to Cardigan, and is described with the simple low-key “Quiet dirt roads.” on the Island Walk website. It was a great stretch to travel with someone. My walk mate and I quickly synchronized our strides to a mutually agreeable pace, and settled into our respective walking rhythms. There was no traffic, beautiful sunny weather, and quiet countryside. We ambled along, chatting.
She opened the conversation quite directly, with a blunt “I’ve heard about you”. Caught off guard, I asked how. “I met a couple near St Peter’s, and they told me they’d met a solo walker a few days earlier, an older guy with a beard, who was about a day behind me”.
Clearly, we’d both separately encountered the people whom I’d met along the road outside Oyster Bed Bridge. Since she had started a couple of days prior to me but was walking exactly one section per day, and had also taken a rest day to catch up on work stuff, my slightly faster pace had caught me up to her that morning.
As we compared notes about the Walk, I mentioned the challenges of arranging accommodation and transport, and described how I’d been using some of the bigger towns as bases while relying at first on local transportation such as cabs, and then later prevailing upon my wife to drive me about. In contrast, my companion’s solution to the problem was to live out of a small motorhome which she moved every few days from campground to campground, using arranged transport to get to and from the route.
“You’re the woman who’s living in her van!”, I exclaimed, my turn to surprise her. I explained how I’d heard a mention from the 3 walkers I’d met outside Miscouche, who had said they’d only met one other solo walker, a woman who was staying in her camper-van and getting rides each day.
That little bit of comedy broke the ice between us, and as we walked our continued banter raised other things we had in common. We were about the same age, though her kids were a bit older than my son. We were both from southern Ontario, she from Kitchener and myself from Leamington. We knew of some of the same families, Kitchener having a large Mennonite population with links to a number of people whom I’d known growing up in Leamington. Small world.
We compared our favourite parts of the Walk (North Cape, Cavendish beach), and our ideas for improving it in future (more rest break possibilities on the road sections please!). We joked about how every empty beer can we saw littering the roadside seemed to be of the same brand – I’m judging you Budweiser drinkers.
And more jokes and questions – what did you think about those cows along Route 16 near Bothwell? Were you attacked by a grouse on the Trail near New Zealand? Where are all the Tim’s? Why does everyone in PEI seem to cut their lawn continuously? Why are all the riding lawn-mowers driven by women? How come there’s an ice cream shop in every town, but not a coffee shop?
We grew more philosophical. Why do the Walk? Her motivations were a bit different than mine. A personal tragedy had affected her deeply, and she needed a break. She had heard about the Walk and thought that since her kids were grown up, why put things off? I could agree with that sentiment.
We also both agreed that part of our motivation was simply to see if we could do it. Yet we both found ourselves questioning our motivations – were we being selfish? What does it say about this form of tourism, if it requires 4 weeks to do it? Doesn’t that imply a certain level of privilege, to afford the time needed to go walking? Does that privilege affect it as a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey? Or is it just another bucket list item to check off? How much benefit does the average Islander get out of the money that walkers spend on hotels and food? No answer to any of that, really, and we kept walking.
The time flew by. I mentioned that I had taken to scouting the route the night before and making notes of community centres and churches as likely places to stop for a rest, and we griped to each other about the lack of washrooms for most of the route. She confessed that she had addressed the problem by limiting her water intake while walking fast so as to finish the typical Section length of 20-25 km in around 4-5 hours, skipping rest stops and food in order to avoid the need for toilet breaks.
That strategy seemed a bit extreme to me, and I prevailed upon her after a couple of hours of steady walking to stop for a quick rest and water break (for me) on the steps of a church we passed. Wishful thinking on my part, but I think she was secretly happy to have an excuse to sit for a bit.
Soon after, we joined the busier Route 4 for a couple of kilometers, and we were amused to come across some llamas in a pasture. We stopped to take a look, and several of the animals came trotting over to the fence where we stood taking pictures. We hung back, careful to stay out of spitting distance.
Leaving the llamas to graze, we trudged along the shoulder of the highway, our conversation temporarily interrupted by the need to walk single file along the busier road. I noticed that she waved at each passing vehicle, and most drivers waved back. “Everyone is so friendly here”, she said over her shoulder.
The route dipped back onto a quiet dirt road as we continued towards Cardigan, and we resumed our conversation. I asked her how she was preparing for the remainder of the Walk, and the way she intended to finish it – what did she expect she’d feel at the end? Neither one of us had a good answer to that.
She did say that she was glad she’d decided to walk it, but as she neared the end, she was feeling eager to get home, the more so as she had the long drive from PEI back to Ontario in front of her. “I’ve arranged to stay my last night in the student dorm at Holland College, right next to Joe Ghiz Park. I’m going to walk across that finish line, jump in my van and go home”. There was no one meeting her at the end – her husband was waiting for her back in Kitchener, so she thought the finish for her might be a bit anticlimactic.
But for myself, I wasn’t so sure. Don’t you want to celebrate something like this? Right then, or later? What are you “supposed” to feel?
What with all that chatting, and with our steady strides, we made such good time – and I was embarrassed to notice that her natural pace seemed to be a couple of notches faster than mine despite her being a good few inches shorter than me – that we finished the 24 kilometers of Section 26 to reach Cardigan in about 4 and half hours from Howe Bay.
Near the end of the Section, our bantering died away, as our fellow-walker companionship faded and we returned to a more distant two-strangers-walking-down-the-road-in-the-same-direction vibe. She was meeting her sister in Cardigan (who was acting as her driver for a few days), while I had planned to continue on for a bit to complete the first few kilometers of Section 27. Having shared such a pleasant day, I realized as we parted that we had never asked each other for our names. After a quick, slightly awkward hug, we wished each other happy trails.
Not far after the Section 26 end marker and now solo once again, I came upon the Cardigan Heritage Centre and popped in. I had been concealing how desperate I was for a toilet break and a rest – walking with such a seemingly tireless trekker had wiped me out, and besides her quick pace had put me well ahead of schedule. The conversations we’d just shared went through my head as I sat overlooking the harbour at Cardigan. The finish line was looming, and I kept asking myself what this Walk was about.
30 minutes of fruitless introspection later, I forced my creaking legs to bend and then stand, and started onto Section 27, intending to reach Montague Junction. This Section is the shortest on the Walk, at just 12 km, and simply follows a portion of the Confederation Trail between Cardigan and Montague – a “beautiful rail trail walk.”
I wanted to do this short bit so that the next day, I could finish the rest of Section 27 and then go on to complete all of Section 28. I’d looked at the long-range weather forecast the night before and there was rain likely in a day or two, so I reckoned that doing a longer distance in the dry would leave a shorter day to walk in the wet if the forecast proved correct.
I quickly reached the crossroads where Ann was waiting patiently, but not before meeting a gentleman on a bike who wore a Trail volunteer jacket. He appeared to be at least 10 years older than me, when he asked me how I was coming along and I told him about the Island Walk. He asked me how I’d liked the Trail – it seems that he spent time each summer riding the whole of the Confederation Trail in order to check on conditions, not a bad way to stay in shape. I assured him that all the parts that I’d walked had been fine, and as I left him I silently wished that I’d have that much energy when I reached his age. A humbling way to finish the day.
Day 23 dawned brightly, with a lovely forecast ahead of the next day’s rain. The morning drives to each day’s drop-off were getting shorter as I moved steadily westwards. It took just 20 minutes for Ann to reach the drop-off at Montague Junction. She was anxious to get back to Murray Harbour, to take advantage of these quicker runs to have a relaxing day for herself.
I had only gone a few meters onto the Trail before I turned around and dashed back out to the car, before she had time to pull away. “Mosquitoes”, I explained, and dug into my pack for my trusty bug hat. Helmeted with mesh courage, I strode back into the fray.
I must admit that this portion of the Trail was quite pleasant – there’s lots to see as the route skirts the Brudenell River and then the Montague River. But it would have been better with fewer buzzing escorts.
The character of the Trail felt different here compared to the stretches up at the eastern end of the Island, with more houses and farms in view, and pleasant stretches of pine woods to walk through. It brought to mind previous walks in parts of Toronto, like the Moore Ravine. I passed a few other people out walking, though they weren’t Walkers – hand-in-hand couples, young moms pushing strollers for the most part – and they smirked quietly at my headgear. No one else seemed to be bugged by the bugs.
The Trail brings you into Montague by the harbour, and as I approached the town, the trees and bushes thinned out on either side to allow a breeze to carry off the mosquitoes. I was able to walk into town with a bit more dignity, hatless.
The old Montague train station held some art galleries and a welcome set of toilets, and as I arrived, so did a group of motorcyclists from Quebec. They were all dressed in their leathers and they were all my age or older, mostly couples riding together on one bike. “We have 15 minutes”, said their leader in French, and they scattered to nose about the area, before they headed off to their next stop.
With Section 27 completed, I continued onto Section 28 which is “mostly a road walk”, starting on the Montague Main Street, which becomes Route 17 as it heads east. A block or so along this thoroughfare, I passed The Lucky Bean cafe. It looked too tempting to pass by. I stopped in and ordered a sandwich and a flat white, a coffee style I had grown to love when I lived in Australia. After waiting patiently as a new barista learned how to make one, I took a proper Aussie-style morning brew outside onto the patio to people-watch as I ate.
Montague is a busy little town, big enough to have not one but two!, two count ‘em! grocery stores along with restaurants and shops. It’s clearly the principal service town for this part of the Island, and walking through it, I could see that it would have been a great base for the eastern part of the Walk, if only I’d gotten organized in time to find accommodation there. Next time.
Outside Montague, Route 17 follows the harbour shore as the Montague River widens out into a bay. The Walk takes you eastwards, away from Charlottetown, as you follow the shoreline, first along Route 17 and then north for a bit of a detour along a quiet backroad towards Lower Montague. Here I found a lovely bench under a shady tree in the midst of a charmingly well-maintained little cemetery, a peaceful rest stop.
Shortly afterwards, walking by the bay, I could look across the waters towards Georgetown where what looked like a small cruise ship or a large ferry was docked. All seemed asleep, peaceful, the town basking in sunshine, with only a few busybody fishing boats toodling about.
After Lower Montague, the Walk rejoins Route 17 as it continues along the coast, first eastwards and then bending towards the south. There are low hills and farms and fishing boats and gentle waters, all very bucolic and calming, and traffic was light. It was a day for walking – no need to think too much or work too hard, just pace along and look around and let your mind run on as it would. I can’t remember what I thought about, and it probably wasn’t anything profound. Just walk and be.
Before I knew it, I’d reached the crossroads at Gaspereaux, where Ann picked me up. I was relaxed and only a bit tired though I’d done nearly 30 km. It had only taken three plus weeks to finally get into shape.
Murray River Here I Come
After 23 days of walking, Charlottetown was just 4 days away. But the forecast had been correct – to get there, I would need to endure another day of walking in the rain.
Since I had pushed a little the previous day to complete Section 28 at Gaspereaux, I reckoned this day wouldn’t be too bad. Section 29 is relatively short, 20 km to reach Murray River. The Island Walk website’s blurb for this is succinct: “”Road walking”. And on a grey low-sky day with showers and stretches of steady rain, that shorter distance was welcome.
From Gaspereaux you simply follow Route 17 as it mirrors the shoreline southwards and then turns back to the west along the north side of Murray Harbour. It’s mostly farms along here, with the road set back a km or 2 from the shoreline, which is often invisible from the road, with scattered stands of pine forest that offered little laneways for discreet bio breaks. This is one of the most low-key sections of the Walk – very quiet, just a few scattered houses, occasional hints of water. And rain, on the day that I walked it.
My nightly route-scout looking for possible rest spots had found a community centre near Murray Harbour North. The rain had eased off to light mist as I perched on the steps to eat my morning snack. Other than a couple of cars going by, I had the road to myself.
I had noticed that it was garbage pick-up day in this area, and I played spot-the-evil-eco-monster as I looked for misplaced recyclables in the clear plastic bags by the roadside. People eat a lot of frozen foods around here, I thought. And ice cream.
Steady walking for another hour brought me to the outskirts of the town of Murray River. We’d driven through it multiple times over the previous few days, as Ann schlepped me to and from Murray Harbour to points east. Passing through Murray River now, on foot, I could see that it was a hushed and sleepy little place, once having been a bit more prosperous as an active fishing port, and now resigned to its present state as a tranquil tourist town and a bedroom community to nearby Montague and Charlottetown.
I reached my pick up point, the petrol station next to the Section 29 end sign on Route 4, and rang Ann to say that I’d arrived a smidge early so I would wait for her across the road down by harbour’s waters, at Captain Nate’s Seafood Shack. Comforting aromas wafting from deep fryers suggested well-made fish and chips, and I reckoned they would serve hot tea as well.
The rain had increased in volume as the morning had gone on, and my rain gear was fully wetted-out by the time I sat down to wait for Ann. When she arrived, she readily agreed to an impromptu lunch break, and we quickly ordered our meals, then I went off to the car to change my sopping shirt for a dry one. We sat outside under an awning listening to the rain pelting away as we scarfed fish and chips with splashes of vinegar, wolfishly ignoring our fellow diners.
After that tasty break, we drove off to Vernon Bridge, just 20 km south of Charlottetown. That day we had shifted accommodations from Murray Harbour to a new place, for the final stretch of the Walk. Three more sleeps – after turning the corner at the eastern tip of the island, completionitis was taking over. All that was left was the home stretch to Charlottetown.
Day 20 – North Lake to Greenvale
- Good walking weather, sunny and breezy
- Completed Section 23 including to/from East Point, as well as the first few km of Section 24
- Daily GPS distance = about 25 km, elapsed time just over 6 hours
- Fitbit daily stats = 28.3 km, 37,800 steps, 339 exercise minutes, 57 flights of stairs
Day 21 – Greenvale to Howe Bay
- Sunny and fine, a perfect day for walking with a lovely breeze
- Completed the rest of Section 24, and all of Section 25
- Daily GPS distance = about 29 km, elapsed time just over 7 hours
- Fitbit daily stats = 32 km, 42,900 steps, 369 exercise minutes, 70 flights of stairs
Day 22 – Howe Bay to Montague Junction
- Sunny day, warm and breezy – perfect
- Completed Section 26 and the first few km of Section 27
- Daily GPS distance – 26 km, elapsed time just under 6 hours
- Fitbit daily stats – 26.1 km, 35,000 steps, 319 exercise minutes, 75 flights of stairs
Day 23 – Montague Junction to Gaspereaux
- Lovely day, warm and breezy in the afternoon though not breezy enough in the morning to keep the mosquitoes away
- Completed the rest of Section 27 and then all of Section 28
- Daily GPS distance – 30 km, elapsed time 7 hours
- Fitbit daily stats – 31.8 km, 42,700 steps, 388 exercise minutes, 53 flights of stairs
Day 24 – Gaspereaux to Murray River
- Rainy day, overcast, muggy
- Completed Section 29
- Daily GPS distance – 20 km, elapsed time 4 hours
- Fitbit daily stats – 23 km, 30,800 steps, 262 exercise minutes, 35 flights of stairs
Souris and Montague are the biggest places and most obvious towns to base yourself in for this part of the Walk, and Cardigan and Murray River also have accommodations and restaurants to offer. It could be possible to do this portion walking from accommodation to accommodation, though you’d have to stretch your daily distances beyond the individual Sections, and possibly go off the route a bit too.
Instead, as with the other parts of the Walk, I suggest booking something for a couple of days in one of the bigger communities and then arranging pick-up and drop-off transportation to the walk route. For this part of the walk, since my wife was with me and could do the driving, we stayed in Murray Harbour, admittedly a bit out of the way for North Lake, but a lovely spot nonetheless. I’d also strongly recommend booking accommodation ahead, especially in high season, since there aren’t a ton of places to stay.
Souris and Montague are big enough to use as a base for several days, each with grocery shops, restaurants, pharmacies, bakeries, etc. so that you can keep yourself supplied and looked after.
In this part of PEI, in theory you can use one of the Charlottetown taxi companies that cover most of the middle and eastern parts of the Island, but that will be expensive – expect rates in the region of $2 per km. I did not use them, since my wife was with me and she did the driving.
Finally, other transportation options exist as well. There are some tour operators, who provide services such as I received from Stanley MacDonald in an earlier part of the walk. There is also the T3 bus network, which can get you to/from some of the points on the Island Walk route, but it may be of limited use until you get to Souris. Check their website for full schedule info.
As for sustenance, for some of these sections there will be places to stop for lunch, such as at Souris, Cardigan, or Montague. In other parts, you’ll need to pack a lunch, and I would always recommend taking some snacks as well. You’ll need to pack water too. There are some places where you can fill up your bottle, e.g. East Point visitor centre, but for the most part you’ll need to pack it.
As for bio pit stops, you’re almost entirely upon roads, so you’ll be looking for cafes and gas stations, or else bushes off the side of the road.
Finally, this part of the Walk does have more churches, community centres, etc. where you can stop for a rest, but you’ll have to plan carefully and keep an eye out. This stretch includes a short portion of the Confederation Trail between Cardigan and Montague, and you can find benches and picnic tables there.
Next – Murray River to Charlottetown
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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