PEI’s Island Walk Part 3 – Tignish to Kensington

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 9-13 of my walk, between Tignish and Kensington.  The links below have the details from the Island Walk map 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.

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 central portion of the island.

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Leaving Tignish

The previous few days, starting from Miminegash and continuing up and around the North Cape  and back to Tignish, had been my favourite stretch so far.  After a bit of a tough start, I had settled into a better rhythm, setting manageable distances each day and walking on now-toughened feet and strengthened legs that were just “good-tired” at the end of the day, rather than “dead-tired”.

With those lessons learned and some wonderful memories formed, I was ready to move into the next stretch of the walk, through the middle of the Island.  Still, parts of the next few Sections overlapped with the chunks of Confederation Trail I’d already walked.  Memories of the mosquitoes I’d met there, which had already driven me batty at times, plus the monotony of straight lines, unvarying green verges, and limited views of the sea or countryside, didn’t exactly inspire me to go back for more.

But that was the route.  The Walk takes you through PEI’s many regions, to show you its many guises, to teach you that there’s more than red earth and potatoes to the place.  You can’t have all highlights; like an over-egged pudding, it would be too rich, too overwhelming.  Sometimes you have to eat oatmeal.

Still, I brightened at the realization that I’d turned a corner;  literally, with the major milestone of the North Cape now behind me, and metaphorically, with my revamped plan and now-settled pace and fitness.  I was at the western end of the Island, and its full length stretched out to the east.  To get there, I had to head back across the middle of the island towards Kensington.

Screen capture from the Island Walk website. Copyright © 2023 An Island Trails project

The morning of day 9 was overcast, with a low grey sky that held moisture and a threat of rain, yet also a bit of breeze which I hoped would keep my winged nemesis at bay.  Section 11 is about 26 km, from Anglo Tignish to Alberton, but since I had done the first few km of that Section the day before, in walking back to Tignish from North Cape, that morning retraced my steps back to Route 12 on the east side of town, where I turned south towards Alberton.

The website says that this Section offers “a peaceful road walk beside the Gulf, with great side trip possibilities out to Kildare Capes.”  The scenery here is low-key, as it is in much of PEI – low hills, green fields, bushes and trees, and a few glimpses of the sea.  Route 12 doesn’t follow the shore too closely, rather it’s set back a kilometre or two, and often you can’t see the water at all.  I guess that’s where the suggestion to side-trip to Kildare Capes comes from.  I’d looked it up the night before and didn’t see anything that seemed too attractive, so after a cursory consideration, I decided to skip the Capes.  Sometimes when you’re in a zone, you just want to let it flow.

So I walked on, steady, unhurried, before finally taking a break after more than 2 hours, at the small 150-year-old white-painted wooden Christ Church, tucked into the trees off the road, which offered a welcome set of steps for a rest.  

It was indeed very peaceful – I’d lost track of days, but I reckoned it was a weekday, yet there was little traffic.  Just a hum drifting off the water, muffled by the intervening trees, and I recognized the sound of lobster boat engines.  I said a silent thank you to the church community.  

Around noon, after more greenery, more little farms, more trees, more glimpses of the sea across grassy fields, I came to Jacques Cartier Provincial Park.  I turned in thinking perhaps the washrooms would be open, and looked around for signs of life.  No one about.  The office at the gate was closed, and while there were one or two RVs parked on campsites, the morning’s quiet persisted here as well.  It seemed that I had the place to myself.

I followed my nose towards the water – the salty seaweed tang of open water – and found a picnic table overlooking the narrow beach.  Lunch was contemplative, thinking about Jacques Cartier and his 16th century expeditions to Canada, which helped to pave the way for later waves of Europeans.  The local Mi’kmaq people must have been surprised to see him.  And who’s now sitting here?  Not their descendents, at any rate.

The only activity came from the fishing boats off-shore.  I watched them ply their trade for a bit,  before unfolding my joints to get up.  There were washrooms open and water taps available, a welcome relief, and I continued on my way without seeing a soul.  

After lunch, the rhythm of walking again took hold, and I settled back into my zone.  I couldn’t tell you now what I thought about or what particular sights I saw.  I was on auto-pilot, content to just walk and let the steps count off.  Before I knew what had happened, I had reached Alberton and the end of the Section.  

With a start, I came out of my trance.  Glancing at my watch, I was shocked to see that I was more than an hour ahead of the time I’d arranged for a pick-up back to Tignish.  I hadn’t felt that I was pushing at all, nor did I feel very tired, and yet I’d just finished about 24 km.  I decided to get a bit of a headstart on Section 12, and continued down the main road through town to Dock Corner which put me up by about 1.5 km for the next day.  Then I turned and walked back into town, to sit on a bench in front of the local historical society building, a charming, wooden, former church, and watched the passersby for a bit.

Bored with that after just a few minutes, I headed back toward the business section to do some grocery shopping.  Still with time to kill, next I popped into the local dollar store, and there found something I hadn’t known that I desperately needed – a bug hat, which turned out to be the best $4 I’ve spent in a long time.

Relishing that purchase, I did a leisurely amble about, found a donut shop for my now-required day-end large black tea, and used a quiet park bench to sit while I called home for a chat with Ann, and then checked up on the next day’s route.  The day’s walk had been easy, and the next day’s route looked simple enough as well.  It’s a lark, this, said my brain.  Hubris.  

Soon enough, Barbara from the Tignish Heritage Inn arrived to collect me.  She took me on a bit of a tour back to Tignish, pointing out some of the farms in the area while we chatted.  I learned that she and her husband had only recently moved to PEI from Ontario, and we compared notes as newly planted come-from-aways in our respective maritime towns.  It was a pleasant way to end my stay in Tignish, a place that I liked more than any of the others I passed through on the Walk.  

The morning of Day 10, I checked out of the Inn on what I had come to think of as a full pack day, and after my drop-off at Dock Corner, immediately wandered over to see what was commemorated in a small park by the side of the road, where a stone plinth bore an official looking plaque.  

It seems that on a nearby farm, Robert Oulton and Charles Dalton created the silver fox fur industry and made Alberton the epicentre of that dubious fashion.  I suppose that’s appropriate for a town named after Prince Albert, Prince of Wales and later King Edward VII, the namesake of the Edwardian age.  And quite a contrast to the modern windmills churning not far away at North Cape.

The Island Walk website states that Section 12 takes you back to the Trail, to Portage – “Views of quiet bays and harbours at Cascumpec, then back on the Confederation Trail.”  That little blurb sums up this section quite accurately.  

Mussel and oyster beds stretch out over the waters of Cascumpec Bay, 

with low hills rising on either side and white farm houses perched amidst neat green lawns and sheltering trees.  You’re following Route 12 here, up and down gentle hills and round enough curves to keep it interesting.  Still quiet as the day before, little traffic, and breezes to ruffle the trees.  

Some excitement though – I stopped to eat my picnic lunch sitting beside one of the little bays, and two armed fisheries officers appeared, looming over my rocky perch from the roadside above to ask if I was fishing and did I have my license?  No license, just lunch, I said, and after a cheerful “have a nice day” they were off.

The walk resumed, I soon reached the end of Route 12, where it joins the busy Island-spanning Route 2.  I dodged briskly across the highway and followed Route 2 back to the  west for a few hundred meters, then turned south to follow what the map called Percival Road.  The first 100 meters were PEI standard issue red-dirt, which then gradually faded and turned into two deep muddy ruts through knee high grass, impassable to vehicles.  

After following this past a half-burned, hillbilly garbage pile, I was relieved to see the signs marking the Confederation Trail – I was half-convinced that I was on some farmer’s private lane instead of a public road.

But having reached the purple gates marking the Trail, I welcomed trudging on the straight flat gravel after several days of road walking.  It was a short hour’s walk to finish Section 12 at the crossroads at Portage, and again I was about an hour ahead of my planned schedule.  I wiled away the time reading the information plaque I found there, and learned Portage gets its name from the fact that canoeists could traverse this narrow part of the island with a 5 km portage connecting the north and south shores because of the deeply inset bays on either side.

Section 12 ends at Portage, and I had arranged a pick-up from a fellow named Stanley MacDonald, who did tours of PEI from his base in O’Leary.  Stanley proved to be a wonderful guide.  I guessed that he was in his 70’s, and he still loved to rove about the island pointing out bits of history on the way.  That evening, on the drive to my new accommodation base in Kensington, we chatted about the Island Walk, what I’d seen so far, and what was to come as I continued, the very archetype of the friendly Islander that I’d hoped to meet.

After reaching Kensington, I took a little bit of time to wander about the town.  It’s a comfortable, prosperous looking place, with some history to explore, little shops and larger grocery stores, some nice restaurants and coffee shops, and just generally all the things you need if you want a base for the Walk in the middle of the Island.  I stayed at a place called the Victoria Inn, and they offer a few self-contained kitchen suites, which proved to be perfect for what I needed.  

Back on the Trail

The next morning, Day 11 for me, Stanley gave me a lift from Kensington back to Portage and I set out on Section 13, “a Confederation Trail walk through Ellerslie and on to Northam”, which is true enough and sums up everything you need to know – more Trail.  But I was blessed with a fine day for it, because the steady breeze swept the mosquitoes off to bother Cape Breton, and on that flat surface I chuntered along at a brisk but steady pace, reaching the end of that Section’s 20 kilometers at Northam after about 4 hours.

I had planned to continue past Northam on the Trail in order to start the first few km of Section 14, to end my day at Richmond Station.  Since I was well ahead of the pace I’d planned and very early for my pick-up time, I sat at a picnic table in the sun and ate an orange in a lordly and languid manner.  

While doing that, I checked the map to see how far I had to go.  Only then did I realize that I had assumed that Section 14 of the Walk retraced the earlier Sections along the Confederation Trail between Northam and Wellington and hence would pass by Richmond Station.  In fact it does not.

Screen capture from the Island Walk website. Copyright © 2023 An Island Trails project

Instead, when following the Walk route in the eastward direction, at the end of Section 13 at Northam you leave the Trail.  Section 14 then follows back roads towards Miscouche.  That put my planned pick-up at Richmond Station about 5 km away from Grand River, in the middle of Section 14, where I now realized I should stop for the day.

I shot a mildly panicked text off to Stanley, to change my day-end finish to a crossroads at Grand River, rather than Richmond Station, and waited anxiously for him to confirm that he had gotten the message.  

Fortunately, he picked it up quite soon, and my languid mood having quite evaporated by this point, I set out at a brisk pace down dirt roads that meandered through farms and fields and small pockets of woodland.  I reached the crossroads with my cheer restored by sunshine and warm breezes.  There I hung about by a stop sign for a bit, looking out for Stanley’s car and waving to the locals who passed and asked if I needed a ride.

That evening, I made a point to reconnoiter my route both on my GaiaGPS map app and the Island Walk website.  I went over it turn by turn, memorizing its navigation, and mentally checking for parks, churches, schools, gas stations, and the like that could offer a resting spot.  After the embarrassment of nearly wandering off-stage, I wanted no further missteps.   This nightly map run-through became my habit the rest of the way.

Summerside Redux

The weather forecast for Day 12 promised the first proper summer heat of the walk so far.  I made sure to top off my water bottles, and packed oranges and fruit as well.  Stanley picked me up once again, and drove me from Kensington back to Grand River.  My goal was to complete Section 14, which ends in Miscouche, and then do the first half of Section 15, to end my day in Summerside.

All of Section 14 is road walking – “First, a quiet walk along Country roads and fields, then a road walk along Grand River, followed by a red dirt road into Miscouche”, says the Island Walk website.  Stanley’s route to my drop-off point took us along part of what I was about to walk, and as we drove along, I noticed 3 walkers heading east from Grand River towards Miscouche, apparently following the Walk route; it looked like they would be about 30 minutes ahead of me.   He dropped me off with a wave, and I started in their footsteps.

The sunlight beating down upon my hat was already toasting my scalp by 9 am, yet the steady westerly breeze pushed me along and cooled me down as I followed Route 12 as it meanders south and east and across the Grand River.  I half-wanted/half-didn’t want to catch up to the party in front of me.  I had grown used to my solitary progression, immersed in the landscape and in my own thoughts.  I’ll walk slowly, I said to myself, and took frequent pauses for pic snaps.

After a few kilometers, the pavement gave way as I turned onto a dirt road bordered on both sides by thick stands of birch and maple, with lupins poking up along the roadside, leaving me to walk in a muggy stillness with the breeze stirring the leaves 10 meters above my head.  

The moist conditions on the shallow verges were a perfect breeding ground for my old nemesis, the mosquitoes, and unconsciously I accelerated to try to outrun them.  Soon I turned a corner and looked up a gentle slope to see the 3 walkers a hundred meters ahead of me, just finishing their rest break by the side of the road.

I stopped as I came abreast, to take a short break myself.  We chatted, and I joined them as they set out again.  I learned that they were a couple from New Brunswick who had been born on the Island, along with their friend who still lived nearby.  They were doing the Walk in chunks over a period of months, and that day’s section was to be their last for the summer, as they wanted to avoid walking in the heat.  

Since they had two cars between them, they had worked out a hopscotch routine, driving both cars to the day’s finish to leave one there, and then continuing on to leave the other car at the day’s start.  That way, they were able to drive to and from accommodations for each Section of the Walk, which gave them a lot of flexibility.

We paced along companionably for about 2 hours, including a stretch of Section 14 outside Miscouche that looked more like an overgrown farmer’s lane than a public thoroughfare, but which nonetheless appears on the map as Deroche Road.  

As we walked and chatted, my earlier misgivings about disrupting my solitary wanderings were set aside, and I realised it was quite nice to have company for a bit.  We shared stories about the Sections of the Walk we’d done so far, and tossed about ideas for improvements.  We all agreed that there was work to do to arrange rest stops and water stops, and at the same time we also agreed that the Walk was a fantastic way to get to know the Island. 

I also learned that two of this group had also done the Camino Portuguese a few years earlier, and we compared the Island Walk to that of the more established Camino.  I was also interested in that Camino route itself, as I had had thoughts of trying it myself, and I peppered them with questions about their experiences.  It made for a fun morning. 

Still, I found after a few minutes of walking together that our respective walking paces were slightly different, and I found that my short legs needed a faster pace to keep up with these experienced walkers.  That had us striding into Miscouche sooner than I expected.  There I took a snap for them standing by the Section 14 end sign, as they finished their half of the Walk for the season.

Both my overall journey and my day’s planned stretch still had some distance left to run, but Miscouche looked like a great spot for a lunch break.  When walking westbound along the Trail earlier in my journey, I had passed the town, and had seen nothing of it other than a church spire.

Now, having arrived I thought it looked like a cute little place.  There isn’t too much there, though I did see a nice looking B&B and a couple of shops.  If I had been following the route Section by Section, then ending here and spending the night would have been pleasant.

But with places to get to, I bought a coffee at a nearby shop and stepped into the shade of a leafy red maple to eat my lunch at a picnic table in the park area outside the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.  

It was only after I’d been there for a bit that it occurred to me that it was a Sunday.  Losing track of time on the Walk was a frequent occurrence.  I relished that.

Lunch concluded, I reluctantly turned my attention to Section 15 – “A secluded walk along the Confederation Trail into Summerside, past city streets and bungalows beside the trail, then a rail trail walk past potato fields into Kensington” – runs from Miscouche to Kensington.  That day, I was only going to do the first 10 km of it, to reach Summerside.  By doing so, I could use the following day for what would be the closest I’d have to a rest day, needing just a short 3-hour, 15 km walk to finish Section 15 into Kensington. 

Setting out from my shaded rest, I stepped into summer heat, following Miscouche streets for a few blocks to rejoin the Confederation Trail.  Here I retraced the steps of Section 5 that I’d walked on Day 4, then with quite different weather, and with the same countryside appearing new to me when viewed from the opposite direction.  

I clipped along at a steady pace, thinking of ice cream in Summerside, and taking frequent water breaks as the afternoon heat continued to build.  The 10 kilometers evaporated quickly, and I was soon entering the city.  The old rail line passed through residential areas as it curved towards the old main rail station down in the middle of town near the seaside.  Despite being an early summer Sunday, there wasn’t a holiday feel to the place, as it wasn’t quite yet the full summer tourist season, and the foot and road traffic was light with many of the more touristy spots still closed.

As I walked, my phone rang.  It was the support person from the T3 bus network.  I had emailed a pick-up request the previous day, to journey from Summerside back to Kensington, and had timed my day around the bus schedule, which showed a 4 pm departure.  I’d made it to Summerside in plenty of time, well before 3:00, with visions of a cool patio serving refreshing beverages.  That proved to be a mirage, however, as the T3 person explained that in fact the bus only runs Monday to Friday.  Quelle drag.  

With that disappointing news, I changed my mind about hanging about in Summerside and instead called a taxi to take me back to Kensington.  My longed-for cool, refreshing beverage sipped slowly by the seaside became a cup of tea back at my hotel.  At least I had an early evening to rest.

Into Kensington

Day 13 dawned grey and overcast, with steady rain predicted to start around mid-day.  Since it was now a Monday, I was able to catch the T3 bus in Kensington to return to Summerside, for what turned out to be the only time I used it on my travels.  It was a pleasant ride, and very cost-effective at just $2 for a one-way journey.  

In hindsight, by the way, I wished that there were more connections with the Walk route, as I would have used it more.  I understand that there’s little call for stops at say Northam along the Confederation Trail in the middle of farming country.  Unfortunately, that means that while it’s worth using the service where the route passes through towns like Summerside and Kensington, in many other places it’s not a very practical means of getting to and from the Walk.

On that morning, once back in Summerside I had only to turn around and follow the Trail out of town for a short morning’s walk to complete Section 15.  I set off intending to get back to my hotel by noon to try to beat the rain.  As before, the sights visible from the path are limited, mostly small copses of trees and fields on both sides, though it was interesting to pass by the large Cavendish Foods processing plant.  I had noticed that PEI often feels like one giant garden, and much of that bounty is funnelled through food processors like this to reach tables from coast to coast.

There were some mosquitoes about, so once again my rest breaks were short and my pace was brisk, bringing me into Kensington well before noon.  As I walked past the old train station in the middle of town, now turned into a cute cafe, two couples sitting outside hailed me in passing to ask where I’d come from.  

I explained about the Island Walk, which prompted them to mention the Camino de Santiago.  They said they’d planned to do that pilgrimage in 2022 but the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions after two years had meant that the Camino was going to be very crowded, and so they’d decided to come to PEI instead.  I recommended the Island Walk to them, and left them with the hope that I’d made a few more converts.

I finished the day in the nick of time, spots of rain splashing the sidewalk just as I reached my hotel.  It was only about noon, leaving me the rest of the day to take a nap, wash some clothes, clean my gear, and get organized for the next day.

That evening, as I listened to wind-driven rain pattering the windows, I reflected upon what I’d accomplished so far.  I was fully into the rhythm of walking, and confident in both my endurance and my adjusted plan.  The earlier day’s-end bone-deep aches, creaks, and stiffness had given way to an almost pleasant tiredness-after-a-good-day’s-work feeling.  I had a routine – sleep, walk, rest, repeat.  I’d learned a lot, and had enjoyed most of what I had seen about the western half of the Island.

And deep down, I was excited because the next day would be what I had come to refer to as Halfway Day, when I would complete Section 16 out of the total of 32.  Not only would I have reached the midpoint, I would be embarking upon some of the most scenic Sections of the Walk, along the Island’s north shore.  Sleep came fitfully; I was eager for more.

Day 9 – Tignish to Dock Corner outside Alberton

  • A bit overcast but warmish and muggy, though with some breezes too.
  • Completed the remainder of Section 11 (starting outside Tignish and continuing to Alberton) and did the first km of Section 12 to Dock Corner 
  • Daily GPS distance = about 25 km, elapsed time just under 6 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats = 28.2 km, 37,800 steps, 310 exercise minutes, 31 flights of stairs

Day 10 – Dock Corner to Portage

  • Sunny and fine, a great day for walking with a lovely breeze
  • Completed the rest of Section 12  
  • Daily GPS distance = about 24 km, elapsed time just under 6 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats = 27.7 km, 37,400 steps, 303 exercise minutes, 53 flights of stairs

Day 11 – Portage to Grand River

  • Sunny day, breezy, perfect
  • Completed Section 13 between Portage and Northam and did the first 5km or so of Section 14 to Grand River
  • Daily GPS distance – 24 km, elapsed time just over 6 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats – 27.8 km, 37,200 steps, 331 exercise minutes, 41 flights of stairs

Day 12 – Grand River to Summerside

  • Gorgeous day, sunny, and getting hot, lovely breeze in the afternoon
  • Completed the rest of Section 14 from Grand River to Miscouche and then walked the first 9 km of Section 15 into Summerside
  • Daily GPS distance – 25 km, elapsed time just over 6 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats – 26 km, 34,800 steps, 315 exercise minutes, 29 flights of stairs

Day 13 – Summerside to Kensington

  • Rain forecast, which arrived during my walk.
  • Planned short day for a rest, only had to complete the rest of Section 15
  • Daily GPS distance – 14 km, elapsed time 3 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats – 18.4 km, 24,600 steps, 218 exercise minutes, 11 flights of stairs


Alberton, Tyne Valley, Summerside, and Kensington between them have many options for accommodation and dining, and there are some scattered B&Bs and resorts in the general area near the route, but as with the other stretches, it’s difficult to walk from accommodation to accommodation.  

You could do that between Tignish and Alberton, and between Miscouche and Kensington, but otherwise you’d have to stray well off the route to get to a B&B.  Instead, 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.  

This is what I did, basing myself in Kensington after I left Tignish.  I’d also strongly recommend booking accommodation ahead, however, especially in high season, since there aren’t a ton of places to stay.

With respect to other necessities, Alberton, Summerside, and Kensington are all big enough to have grocery shops, restaurants, pharmacies, bakeries, etc. so that you can keep yourself supplied and looked after.

In this part of PEI, you can use one of the Summerside taxi companies that cover most of the west end of the island – they will run you all the way 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.  I also connected with a local tour operator named Stanley MacDonald, who was recommended to me by Barbara at the Tignish Heritage Inn.  Stanley is based in O’Leary, and he did my pick-ups and drop-offs between Portage and Kensington.

Finally, other transportation options exist as well.  There are other tour operators, who provide services such as I received from Stanley.  There is also the T3 bus network, which can get you to/from some of the points on the Island Walk route, e.g. Miscouche to Kensington.  Check their website for full schedule info.

As for sustenance, in these sections you’ll need to pack a lunch most days and I would recommend taking some snacks as well.  There are a few places in Miscouche, and quite a few in Summerside and Kensington, where you could get something to take with you on your walk.  And don’t forget the water – there are limited places to fill up unless you knock on someone’s door, so in my case I carried 1.5 liters with me each day.

As for bio pit stops, you’re partly on the Confederation Trail and partly on roads so for the most part you’ll be improvising.  Judging by the bits of toilet paper I saw at certain points along the Trail, most people seem to just step off the trail into the bushes as needed.  On the road sections, there are some stretches with forest and bush on one side or the other, whereas others are pretty open.  In general, I’d say plan your water consumption accordingly.  For the most part over most 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 gas station.

While the Trail portions of this part of the walk are, like all of the Confederation Trail, well supplied with picnic tables and benches every few kilometers, the rest of this part of the Walk is along roads.  I found few parks, cemeteries, churches, community centres, or museums where I could sit for a rest, so I improvised where I could.  For example, I found a great spot on some rocks near Cascumpec Bay where I sat to eat my lunch while watching some oystermen at work.  My Mountain Equipment Co-op seat cushion came in handy that day.

Next – Kensington to North Lake

Other Posts About this Journey

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PEI’s Island Walk Part 2 – Summerside to Tignish

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.

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.

Screen capture from the Island Walk website – copyright OpenStreetMap

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+.  

Screen capture from Island Walk website – copyright OpenStreetMap

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

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PEI’s Island Walk Part 1 – Charlottetown to Summerside

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 I 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 1-3 of my journey, between Charlottetown and Summerside.  The links below have the details from the Island Walk website for the Sections that I covered during this part of my journey.

Screen capture from the Island Walk website – copyright OpenStreetMap

Note, by the way, that the section #s on the official website are somewhat confusingly labelled. They are based on each finish point, and since the overall walk start point is also the overall 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. 

That said, the links below reflect the sections as I walked them.

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.  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 a good intro to the route and the island.

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That first morning dawned a bit chilly with low grey skies and a breeze.  I was fidgety and nervously eager to get started, and had to force myself to take a minute and check my pack again, even though I’d gone over it twice the night before.  One cup of coffee, a bite of toast, a banana.  Time to go.

My original plan had been to travel from bed to bed each day, as you would on the Camino de Santiago, so that every day I’d carry all my clothes, toiletries, electronics, and some snacks and food with me.  That approach changed as I delved into the planning and realized that it was impractical to walk from accommodation to accommodation – in some stretches I’d have to do 40km or more, and deviate by several km from the route to find a place.  As a result, I settled onto the idea that I’d base myself in several places for a few days at a time, and find transportation to take me to/from the trail each day.  (See this post for details of my plans and gear choices).

So come that first morning, even though my wife Ann was still in PEI with the car and was travelling to our next accommodations in Summerside, I still chose to take all my clothes and gear with me that first day, just as a kind of penance for my original sin of mis-planning.  That meant that my pack was pretty heavy for a day hike – about 11 kg.  And since it was a cool morning, I was wearing a couple of warm layers.  

I felt over-dressed and over-burdened as we walked together, a few blocks from the place we’d stayed at in Charlottetown over to Joe Ghiz park where the route starts.  This wasn’t an Everest expedition but that’s how I felt.  We didn’t say much.  We reached the park, and then with little ceremony, Ann quickly took a couple of pictures, we hugged, and I was off.

In hindsight, that first hour, first morning, first day weren’t typical – I hadn’t yet found my routine.  I fiddled with the shoulder and waist belt straps on the pack, trying to get it sitting just right on my back and shoulders and hips.  I put on clothing layers and took them off.  I started out with walking poles and then put them away.  I was hungry but undecided about whether to stop and eat or just get going to let a rhythm build.

So I focused on walking.  The 1st Section of the Walk starts at km 0 of the Confederation Trail in Joe Ghiz park, so the first couple of kilometres are along the Trail as you head north out of the city before turning west.  This Section is “mostly a road walk with some great views of North River in Charlottetown and the Elliot River in Dunedin”, according to the Island Walk website.

And so I found it.  Charlottetown does have some lovely quiet streets in its downtown, but a quick walk through them reminded me of an old joke I’d heard in England, about something being small but perfectly formed.  Practlcally all of the downtown area (and there’s barely an uptown let alone a midtown) is within earshot of the bells of St Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral.  Joe Ghiz park is just a few blocks from the city’s centre, but it’s already on the outskirts of the downtown core in an area that at one point was obviously full of warehouses and manufacturing – hence a rail line, which is now the route of the Confederation Trail.  All of that means that your initial sights on the Walk are urban/industrial, but you don’t mind because you’re Walking the Island Walk and eager to get going.

And in truth, the Trail is a good way to start the Walk since you’re away from traffic and there are benches and picnic tables where you can stop if needed, as I did with my adjusting and fiddling.  And then, after only a few km, you realize that you’re already on the outskirts of Charlottetown, near the University of PEI, and there are farms on one side of the trail and big box retailers on the other. 

Quite soon, you leave the Confederation Trail and the road-walking starts, because in order to get out of the city you have to cross some rivers, which are bridged by busy streets and highways. In fact, I followed the same route outbound along Capital Drive that we’d driven into the city, past the same fast food restaurants and strip malls, none of which was any more interesting at foot speed in walking than it was at road speed in driving.  At a busy roundabout, Capital Drive turns into PEI Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Hwy, and you follow that for a couple of km.  You do pass the big Cow Creamery shop just out of town, if that’s your thing, but it had started to drizzle so that first day it wasn’t mine.

It was only once I’d clicked off perhaps 10km of the route, having left Charlottetown behind and reached the outskirts of the nearby town of Cornwall, that I left the Trans-Canada highway behind and started onto the secondary roads, to finally get into the countryside.

But having reached rural PEI after a couple of hours of walking, my bladder was nudging me and my stomach was agreeing.  Looking around, I thought it would be completely appropriate to make my first rest stop at a Tim Hortons – Canadian roads from coast to coast to coast are practically paved with Timbits.  

But, ironically, that turned out to be the only Tim’s stop I made on the entire walk, which in retrospect still surprises me.  

I had assumed before the walk that PEI was covered with Tim’s locations just like the rest of Canada.  I hadn’t accounted for two things, however.  One is the relatively low population of PEI, which can only support so many coffee and donut shops, so those that exist are on the main highways outside a handful of largish towns, places which are often bypassed by the Walk route.  The other is that Islanders divide their loyalties between Tims, the rival Robin’s Donuts chain, and the many ice cream stands on the island.  

What I also learned, as the walk progressed, is that the low population density, concentrated as it is in places like Charlottetown, Summerside, Souris, and Montague, means that things like diners, coffee shops, cafes, and corner stores are often non-existant along the Walk route.

But that lesson was in the future – here I just wanted my medium dark roast double/double with milk, a breakfast wrap, and a bio break.  And after I’d sat for a short rest, and asked the staff to fill my water bottle (another first time for something on that first day), and wondered why no one was looking at the weird guy with a backpack and walking poles because I secretly hoped that I could tell crowds of awed listeners about my Big Adventure, I hoisted my gear and got going again.

Continuing that first day, heading south and west along secondary roads into gently rolling farming country that’s only 10 km from downtown Charlottetown as the crow flies but which feels like it’s much further, I was taken by the quiet.  I’d lived for 40 years in big cities, and I still associated walks with city soundscapes and background noises.  Here, there was little road traffic, nor many people about.  I barely heard a dog bark.  Just the measured click of walking poles, the clip of boots on pavement, and the susurration of breeze-stirred leaves.  I did notice the crows, though – noisy buggers.  All, in hindsight, a foretaste of things to come, had I known it.

I reached the end of Section 32-1 at a crossroads near the hamlet of Dunedin.  I was disappointed when I got there, expecting some sort of prominent landmark and in fact seeing nothing but more farms and fields, with just the Island Walk marker next to a stop sign to tell me I’d reached the end of this first Section.  It was mid-afternoon, and looking around, I confirmed that, yep, quiet, green, crows – all good. 

In planning the trip, I had broken it up into walk stages of approximately 30 km each because I had a goal of finishing in about 23 days instead of the suggested 32.  So, because Section 32-1 is only about 21 km long, I continued walking.  Section 1-2 of the Island Walk includes “lots of walking on red dirt roads with a canopy of trees overhead. Two of the nicest quiet dirt roads on PEI – Rebokary Lane and Ferguson Rd”, says the guide.  

And that’s what I found at first – this Section brings you into the “real” rural PEI, as the route initially follows paved secondary highways and then the first of the many dirt roads I would follow over the Walk, up low hills and past sunken lanes and hedgerows and roadside bushes and freshly tilled fields.  Again, though, a bit of a disappointment – “nicest red dirt roads”?  Yeah, they’re red and they’re dirt and they’re roads, but that’s it? Just red, dirt, roads?  I was underwhelmed at the time, but I later came to rather like these modest, unassuming yet iconic PEI byways.

Still, it was here that I noticed something that was to become a pet peeve as the Walk progressed.  I was getting tired, at this point about 6 hours into my first day, and I really needed a pee.  No gas stations, community centres, or other signs of civilization were to hand, and since I was on a dirt road, in the middle of seemingly nowhere, I reckoned I could be a country boy and duck behind a tree. 

That solved the immediate problem, but while I needed a rest, I didn’t want to sit on the wet dirt – oh for a park bench or a convenient set of church steps – so I just shrugged off my pack for a few minutes while I stood under a tree and sipped some water.  After that less-than-refreshing break, I glanced at my watch, mindful of the pick-up time I’d arranged with Ann, slung my pack again – which someone had filled with rocks, clearly – onto shoulders that I knew would show bruises later that evening, and cursed the stiffness in my hips and knees.  “So you wanted to walk around PEI, huh?  Move it, slow poke.”  The first self pep talk.

Plodding on, southwesterly, I reached the end of the dirt road and merged onto the paved Route 19 highway that runs along the Argyle Shore.  I could feel the hot spots on my feet turning into blisters as I walked, but I was damned if I was going to text Ann for an early pick-up.  That first day was ending with what was the first of many end-of-day, put-your-head-down-and-just-get-on-with-it trudges, west along Route 19 for several more km.

My target was the Argyle Shore Provincial Park as a pick-up point.  Looking ahead, I could see the road climbing a gentle hill and I’d think, ok, last one, and then I’d crest it and stride down and and then look up to see another one, and each seemed to get longer and longer and steeper and steeper.  The sun had come out and there were some nice views out over the blue-green waters of the Northumberland Strait, looking charming and calm, and I could see the Nova Scotia coastline just across the water.  Home, I thought.  Just over there.  

And then I looked up with about 500 m to go and saw my wife walking towards me, down a gentle slope, to escort me for the last few minutes of my first day.  “How are you feeling?”  “Tired”.  I slumped into the car when we got to it.  

It took about 15-20 minutes to drive into Summerside where we were staying, and by the time we got to our AirBnB, I could hardly get out of the car, the muscles in my legs having stiffened and the blisters on my feet ballooned.  After hobbling into the house, it took a desperately needed mug of strong sweet tea, a long hot shower, and a restorative glass of wine before I could look at my feet.  Ugly puffy blisters greeted me from the bottoms of several toes on both feet along with the side of my left foot.  I took out my first aid kit, extracted some alcohol swabs, blister bandages, and antiseptic cream, and reached for my Swiss Army knife.  Ann looked on with disgusted interest.  “Eeewww”.

An appropriate word for Day 1.  It had proven to be more challenging than I had expected.  The low rolling countryside, up and down crossing ravines and small river valleys, had been unexpected – PEI is flat, right?  I was surprised to see the stair count on my exercise tracker – so much for my assumptions of an easy walk.

The Argyle Shore

Rolling out of bed the next morning was easy, as I’d slept like a log.  Standing up was the hard part.  The popped blisters covered in bandages and moleskin didn’t bother me so much as the stiffness in my legs and back.  I hobbled about for 15 minutes making coffee and a light breakfast, then gathering snacks, assembling sandwiches, filling water bottles, grabbing a spare shirt and pair of socks, and tucking everything into my pack.  I was ready to go by 8:00.

Ann drove me back to Argyle Shore Provincial Park, and I got out of the car feeling reluctence at the prospect of doing it all over again, competing with eagerness at the same time.  But the sun was out, and while the westerly breeze had a bite to it, it seemed a fine morning to put on sun glasses, snug on my broad-brimmed hat, and shoulder my pack.  

My goal that day was to finish the 2nd half of Section 2, which ends at Victoria-by-the-Sea, as well as then completing Section 3 of the route, which ends at Borden-Carlton.  Altogether, that meant about a 32 km day.  

I continued following Route 19 for several km to De Sable, and it took all of that to work out the kinks in my legs and feet.  Or more precisely, to walk myself into a rhythm where I didn’t notice my feet.  By the time I crossed the Trans-Canada Hwy to continue northwest on secondary and dirt roads, I was feeling relaxed and back into my mental walking zone, letting random thoughts play along with snippets of songs, tuning back into my surroundings occasionally to listen to the wind in the trees or inhale the rich earth loaming smells of the fields. 

The route here along the Argyle Shore is relatively quiet, and compared to the northern shore up around Cavendish and the Prince Edward Island National Park, it’s relatively under-touristed.  The day trippers go north from Charlottetown, so it’s the long term tourists who park their RVs here or rent seasonal cottages in places like the Argyle Shore.  I passed several such sites, some with enviable views – since the road is set back from the shore by a km or two, the land between the road and the shore is privately owned and these campsites and cottage clusters get the seaside at first hand.  And since it was very early in the season for tourists – the Provincial Park hadn’t even opened yet – there were few other people around.  No walkers, no cyclists in view, and barely a vehicle.

There are spots here on the route where you climb a bit, and can look back south across the Northumberland Strait, and the air that morning was sharply clear (I’d even call it a bit crisp with the chilly breeze).  For the most part, the scenery was of farms and fields, holiday homes down private lanes, small patches of forest, and modest houses.  Only a few barking dogs.  And crows – PEI seems to have 10 times more crows than people.  They caw, the sound I recognized, and they cry with screeching-baby like sounds that I hadn’t heard before, and the thought occurred that this was the reason why the collective noun is of a murder of crows.

Sections 2 and 3 are all road-walking, west along Route 19 and then north up Route 116 into some hills, west and then south along red dirt roads, and back onto Route 116 south, crossing the Trans-Canada again and heading for the shore, and then turning west along a causeway into Victoria-by-the-Sea – the terminus of Section 2. By this point, the breeze had freshened into a proper stiff headwind, a light gale even, so that I had to lean into it and hold onto my hat.  Later in the walk, I would come to appreciate any breeze as a mosquito defence, but that morning it felt like a fight with the stubborn westerly wind.

I took a break in Victoria, walking out along the wharf, 

to stop for a late breakfast at a place out called Casa Mia. It was a nice stop, with a delicious omelette and friendly service.  The restaurant’s views over the water were lovely.  My planned 30 minute stop turned into 55 minutes, and it was a challenge to get up from the table and head back out just after mid-day, but I wanted to finish the 20 km of Section 3 that day by reaching Borden-Carlton by about 4:00 pm.

The Island Walk website says that Section 3 “starts with dirt road walking and then some road walking with a great view of the Confederation bridge”.  Except that it’s more of a graveled road rather than a red dirt road, which granted isn’t paved but it is less pleasant to walk on gravel than packed red dirt – the stones can shift a bit under your feet so it takes more concentration.  After a few km on this gravel road, I joined the bigger Route 10 highway, following it west for the rest of the day along the shore, through Augustine Cove to Cape Traverse.  There were some glimpses of the Confederation Bridge, and as it slowly grew larger I knew I was making progress towards my goal for the day.

I was back into my walking rhythm after the break at lunchtime, and I was getting my pace figured out.  If I sang Old MacDonald Had a Farm to myself at a moderate galloping beat, then that gave me a steady 5 to 5.5 km per hour pace.  Over time, I tried other tunes.  Little snippets of The Lion Sleeps Tonight or Sudbury Saturday Night.  That helped, but when a song gets stuck in your head as you walk, it’s maddening, so I found myself looking around for some arresting sight to break my train of thought and change the music.

By mid-afternoon that day, I was learning that road-walking has its own challenges.  Uneven shoulders scattered with chunks of pavement.  Too many glimpses of roadside trash.  And, worst of all, no place to sit and rest, no place for a pee.  My habit on long walks, usually, is to take breaks every 90 to 120 minutes, and that was proving to be difficult here, unless I simply stopped by the side of the road and stood there with my pack off while having a drink.  I did find a field with a small grove of bushes that screened me from the road, and had a bio break there.  But places to sit were hard to find.  And my feet were barking again, the blister bandages having rubbed off and balled up in my socks.  

With steady walking, the distance to Borden-Carlton gradually shrank.  15 km to go.  10 km, then 5.  The sun swung past its zenith and headed west to shine back into my face.  At two pm, I checked the map to see where I was.  At three, I looked again – closer but getting there by 4 was looking tough.  And then, as I walked I told myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Let your body tell you when to stop, so I did, a bit short of my end-of-day target of Borden-Carlton to complete Section 3, and instead texted Ann to pick me up about 3 km early, at Cape Traverse.

Summerside was closer, but still far enough away for my legs to stiffen up in the car again, and the hobble into the house must have had the neighbours wondering about the cranky old guy who was vacationing there.  After my new daily ritual of a strong, sweet mug of tea and a hot shower, I confirmed what I had suspected, that my old blisters had new ones, and got out the first aid kit again.  After dinner, I read for a bit, and dozed while I did so.  The exercise and fresh air had tired me right out, so it was an early night.

Onwards to Summerside

That 3rd morning was the last time that my wife would be with me for a while on this trip, until the latter half of my journey.  It was bittersweet to give her a hug that morning when she dropped me off in Cape Traverse, before she headed home to Lunenburg.  I was still ramping up, learning and slowly getting fitter, and I was becoming more inwardly focused as I locked onto my goal.  At the same time, a friend to talk to each evening is a good way to unwind, and now I’d be on my own for a bit.

But it was good sunny, breezy, warm-but-not-hot walking weather, and I felt rested and ready, as I set out along Route 10, watching as the car disappeared into the distance,  The rural character of PEI is strong in this area, along the Northumberland Strait – farms, some views of the sea, farms, more views of the sea, occasional glimpses of the Confederation Bridge, and so on to, through, and past Borden-Carlton to finish Section 3 within my first hour of the day, and then across the Trans-Canada Hwy in Borden-Carlton where I onto start Section 4 along Route 10 towards Summerside.  

The Island Walk website stated that in this Section I would “walk by farms and fields and through small communities, including Central Bedeque. Busy road entrance to Summerside (8 km), then a peaceful walk on the Confederation Trail right through the city.”

And for the most part, that’s accurate.  This part of the route follows Route 10 for about 10 km, and about 5 km out of Borden-Carten I stopped at a church that had a picnic table out front, for a short rest and a water break.  Getting up to leave, I had a chat with the woman who looked after the church, who came out to see who this strange person was. She asked where I was walking, and I explained about the Island Walk.  She was quite interested, and wished me well, the first of many friendly people I met on my walk.  It was only later that I realized that in more than 2 days of walking to that point, I’d yet to meet another walker or a friendly local.

After that welcome break, I continued west towards Central Bedeque, where I stopped at a great little place called Baba’s Kitchen for lunch.  

I walked in to find a queue of people lined up to place their orders, and several of the ladies in line saw my pack and asked where I was walking.  It turned out that they were a group of quilters from all around the maritimes, in PEI for a quilting weekend.  As we chatted, they asked where I was from – Lunenburg, I said.  Oh, you have to meet so-and-so in our group, she’s from Lunenburg.  And so I met Lynne, with whom I had a great chat.  It turned out that she lived only about a kilometer from me, a nice little small-world moment.

After a very tasty sandwich and a coffee, I continued on my way.  Outside Central Bedeque, the route joins and follows the Trans-Canada Highway (the “busy road entrance to Summerside (8 km)” part), and as I walked along I heard a series of cheerful car horn toots, as each of the quilters I’d met passed me – thank you ladies, that put a huge grin on my face.  

But soon after that, I realized that I didn’t much fancy walking all the way to Summerside along the busy and noisy Trans-Canada Highway with its trucks and cars.  Instead I detoured, and followed empty sun-bathed secondary roads north to Wilmot Valley, where I joined the Confederation Trail at Travelers Rest about 5 km outside of Summerside.  

That detour was pleasant enough, and it did get me to the end of Section 4 in downtown Summerside via the Confederation Trail, 

just as the official route would have, but it was at the cost of walking an extra 8-9 km that day.  My planned short day had ended up being longer than I’d thought and I was ready for a rest by the time I reached my accommodations in Summerside.  Lesson learned – stay on the route.

I did notice, though, that as you get closer to Summerside, you start to shed some of the ruralness I’d walked through earlier.  Summerside is the biggest community on the island outside of Charlottetown, and you pass ice cream joints, antique shops, and other seaside resort town things as you get closer to the town.  Then, somewhat suddenly as you join the Confederation Trail for the last bit into town, your walk goes back to being quiet and shady and green – quite a contrast after the busy stretch of the Trans-Canada, and a welcome change at that.

It also struck me that Summerside is a community that can’t make up its mind as to whether it’s a seaside resort town or a service and light industry town.  There’s a big Canada Revenue Agency office here, and a former air force base, along with a great boardwalk by the sea and yet more ice cream places.  It’s clearly a service town, but it has these seaside touches too.  All in all, however, I couldn’t quite like it – it felt sprawly and tawdry in places, missing those lovely wooden houses you see in other parts of the province.

And so I finished the first part of my walk.  Three days to get into the rhythm of it with help and support from my wife.  The next couple of stretches would be solo.  I was looking forward to them.

Day 1 Summary – Charlottetown to Argyle Shore

  • Pretty good day for walking – a bit overcast with a few showers in the morning, then sun all afternoon.  Cool for June, about 6C in the morning, and quite breezy.
  • Completed all of Section 1 (21 km from Charlottetown to Dunedin) and roughly half of Section 2 (which in total is 24 km from Dunedin to Victoria-by-the-Sea).  
  • Daily GPS distance = about 30 km, elapsed time almost 7 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats = 31.4 km, 42,100 steps, 395 exercise minutes, 154 flights of stairs

Day 2 Summary – Argyle Shore to Cape Traverse

  • Good weather, lots of sun, though coolish temps and strong breezes that kept me in a windbreaker all day
  • Completed the rest of section 2 from Argyle Shore Provincial Park to Victoria-by-the-Sea and then walked almost all of Section 3 (which is 20 km in total from Victoria-by-the-Sea to Borden-Carlton)
  • GPS measured distance = about 28 km, elapsed time just under 7 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats = 30 km walked, 40,200 steps, 367 exercise minutes, 97 flights of stairs

Day 3 Summary – Cape Traverse to Summerside 

  • Another great walking day, sunny, breezy, and warmer so I could finally get down to shirtsleeves
  • Completed the remaining few km of Section 3 from where I had left off at Cape Traverse to Borden-Carlton, and then more or less did Section 4 (21 km from Borden-Carlton to Summerside), though I deviated from the official route entering Summerside
  • GPS measured distance = about 30 km walked, elapsed time just over 8 hours
  • Fitbit daily stats = 31.8 km, 42,600 steps, 400 exercise minutes, 47 flights of stairs


Cornwall, Victoria-by-the-Sea, and Borden-Carlton between them have several options for accommodation and dining, and the larger communities of Charlottetown and Summerside that book-end this portion of the Walk have many such options.  That said, it’s still tricky to walk from accommodation to accommodation in this area – the end of Section 1 is out in the middle of the countryside though there is one B&B I saw about 500m from that point.  After that, though, Sections 2, 3, and 4 all end in towns where you can find lodging.  I’d strongly recommend booking ahead, especially in high season.

If, like me, you base yourself in a place like Summerside for a few days while you do this part of the walk, and if you don’t have a spouse or partner with you who can drive you to/from the route each day, then you’ll need to plan transportation options.  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.  

Other transportation options exist.  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 first sections it’s possible to find a lunch spot each day, at Cornwall, De Sable, Victoria, Borden-Carlton, and Central Bedeque.  Nevertheless, I would recommend taking some snacks, and you’ll need water.  I was able to fill water bottles at the places I stopped at for lunch.

Bio pit stops are another matter.  All that road walking means that 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 gas station (and there aren’t a lot of those along these roads).

I did notice a number of churches along more major roads like Route 19 and Route 10, as well as a few community centres and museums, and I learned as I progressed over the rest of the Walk to look out for these types of places, because they often provided a restful sit-down on a bench or some steps.  Outside of that, however, there are few other rest options on the road sections, unless you are comfortable just flopping on the ground.

Next – Summerside to Tignish

Other Posts About this Journey

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