The Kittiwake Coast – The Road to the Shore (226 km)

This tour takes you to the historic coastal communities of Gander Bay and Northern Bonavista Bay. On the way, you will travel through a wilderness of tall trees, blue lakes and crystal-clear streams. Between the communities, you'll find white sandy beaches that stretch on forever and grassy fields perfect for picnics.

Begin in Gander

It all begins at Gander, home of Gander International Airport, the aviation Crossroads of the World. Milepost 213, as the then-isolated location on the rail line was known, was chosen by the British Air Ministry in the 1930s as the site of a new air base because of its low incidence of fog. The anticipated boom in commercial transatlantic air traffic was replaced by wartime traffic.

During the war years, thousands of aircraft under the direction of Ferry Command passed through Gander en route from North American factories to the battlefront overseas. In addition to its vital role as the refueling base for the massive flow of military aircraft, it served as a key base for convoy escort and coastal patrol aircraft. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, just east of town on Route 1, is a reminder of those who lost their lives on these dangerous missions.

After World War II, Gander became the hub of transatlantic commercial airline routes and the townsite was moved from just north of the airport to west of the airport. The old townsite is completely overgrown now, except for the paved streets that cut right through the stands of deciduous trees. It's a good place to walk and learn about the early history through the interpretive signage. There's also a seaplane base near the airport.

As an airport town, Gander has seen its share of tragedy. Perhaps the most mysterious was the 1985 crash of a plane that took the lives of some 259 members of the U.S. 101st Airborne Regiment. They were returning home from peacekeeping duties in the Middle East and their plane had refueled at Gander. It crashed just after takeoff. The area of the crash is now Peacekeeper Park, about four kilometres east of town on Route 1, where the Silent Witness Memorial stands in memory of the soldiers and crew.

The story of aviation in Newfoundland and Gander is told in the North Atlantic Aviation Museum on Route 1. There are aircraft on display, including World War II Hudson MKIII Bomber. The international terminal has a variety of exhibits on the history of aviation, including a second floor display of photos and models.

Behind the Visitor Information Centre on Route 1 is Gill's Trail, which provides a great opportunity to get into the woods. The trail has several loops and takes you to the shore of Gander Lake. Gander also features excellent cross-country ski-trails and a golf course.

Take Route 1 west to Glenwood and Appleton

Before you start down Route 330, you may want to take Route 1 west for 20 kilometres to the towns of Glenwood and Appleton, home of the Gander Bay river boat. These unique crafts once took supplies from the rail line down the Gander River to Gander Bay communities. The sturdy boats are still used today by hunting and fishing guides who navigate the river inland. The Gander River is one of the best salmon rivers in the province.

Along Route 330 head back to Gander and take Route 330 north

This scenic tour takes you through Gander Bay to Carmanville. One of the eeriest attractions along this part of the coast is the rusting hulk of the Ahearn Trader that went aground at Frederickton, at the end of Route 332, in 1960.

Half an hour from Carmanville a road branches off to Ladle Cove and Aspen Cove, two of the prettiest coastal communities along the tour. Aspen Cove, a lobstering community, stretches along the shoreline to the left at the end of a 10-minute drive. To the right are Ladle Cove and its old root cellars. A pebble beach and a path stretch along the shoreline. The road is just above the high tide mark. Take a walk here and feel the power of the sea.

At the fishing community of Musgrave Harbour you can visit the Fisherman's Museum. Housed in a building constructed by Sir William Coaker, founder of the Fishermen's Protective Union, this building was the first retail store for fishermen in the area.

Just off Musgrave Harbour, the Wadham Islands were used as a navigational guide to the Notre Dame Bay coastline in the early days of sea travel. Captains would recite a special poem to get their bearings and a lighthouse was built on the island in 1858.

There's a long beach at Musgrave Harbour and there are several excellent salmon rivers in this area. The beaches attracted migratory fishermen in the 19th century because they offered vast expanses for drying their catch. Today they attract beach volleyball enthusiasts and bird and iceberg watchers.

The municipal park is named for Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian doctor who helped develop the insulin treatment for diabetes. Banting was killed in a plane crash near the town during World War II. The municipal park also includes an interpretation centre, which details the various aspects of the Banting plane crash, and a lovely white sandy beach. Beyond Musgrave Harbour is Deadman's Bay, an exposed stretch of sandy beach that's a treasure trove for beachcombers

The next town along the shore is Lumsden

Originally Cat Harbour, it was renamed for the Reverend James Lumsden, the Methodist minister in the area in 1885. The community as it stands today is fairly new. Its people were resettled from Lumsden South and Lumsden North. This is a good place to buy fresh lobster in season before you carry on along Route 330. There is a beautiful park in the area that is popular with the locals. It has a shallow fresh water lagoon that's just right for a family swim, and a sandy beach that is perfect for a moonlight stroll. This is also a good place to collect delicious mussels.

Nearby, on the exposed terraces of Cape Freels you can follow in the footsteps of the Beothuks who lived here between 1,200 and 1,700 years ago. Both Cape Freels and nearby Newtown are located along a strip of coast known as oceanic barrens. There's no forest cover and lots of fog, but it's also close to fishing grounds and, in spring, seal herds. Oddly enough, it has cooler summers but milder winters than the rest of Newfoundland. At sea level, arctic-alpine plants grow in the same habitat as various southern species. Only on the oceanic barrens will you find this kind of mix.

Just off Route 330 is New-Wes-Valley

New-Wes-Valley is a modern municipality that includes the communities of Newton, Wesleyville, Valleyfield, Templeman, Pound Cove, Brookfield and Pool's Island. Newton is known as “the Venice of Newfoundland” because its build on 17 tiny islands joined by bridges.

In Newtown, you will find the architectural gem of the The Kittiwake Coast – Road to the Shore: a Queen Anne-style house built for Alphaeus Barbour in 1904. It's part of the Barbour Living Heritage Village. The wealth generated from seal hunting and fishing made this grand house possible. The three-storey structure was acquired by the local heritage association and was opened to the public for the first time in 1993. It has a unique collection of period furniture and artifacts and its staircase was built by a specialty carpenter imported from England. In the foyer are poster-size portraits of King Edward VII and his queen. Upstairs is a suit Mr. Barbour wore only once: when he had an audience with the king. The extent of the family's business is outlined in a series of ledgers.

Newtown was the home of Captain Job Barbour, a man with a remarkable story. In November of 1929, he was driven off course in a fierce storm while returning from St. John's. After 48 days of drifting on the North Atlantic, he arrived at Tobermory, Scotland, where he and his crew were given a fine welcome and his schooner was fitted with an engine for the journey homeward. His is just one daring tale along a coast that is famous for its seafarers.

At Wesleyville you can visit the Bonavista North Community Museum and learn more about the people of the Northeast Coast, the hearty souls who developed a unique adaptation to a harsh environment. The museum's most notable artifact is a huge, horse-drawn hearse the town purchased in 1925. There are also aboriginal artifacts and displays on the fishery and the seal hunt.

The Wesleyville area of Newfoundland is featured prominently in the work of the painter David Blackwood. His dark colours and themes reflect lives of struggle and survival.

Take Route 320 a few kilometres past Valleyfield and Badger's Quay

A few kilometres past Valleyfield and Badger's Quay, Route 320 takes you across a causeway to Greenspond. Once a thriving commercial centre, the now quiet town has a history dating back to the late 1600s. Visit the Greenspond Courthouse, a community Museum, which tells of these first English settlers. One bit of advice: Greenspond existed before the automobile, so it's best to park your car and walk around. That's also a sure way to meet the people who live here.

Continue along the Coastal Highway of Bonavista Bay

The tour continues as you wind along the coastal highway of Bonavista Bay, past the colourful towns of Wareham, Centreville, Trinity, Dover and Hare Bay. The Dover Fault between Dover and Hermitage Bay on Newfoundland's south coast marks the boundary where the European and North American continents collided 150 million years ago. At the Dover Fault Interpretation Site you can actually see the line in the land from the lookout site located on the hiking trails in the area.

In Gambo is David Smallwood Park. Named for the grandfather of the infamous late Premier Joey Smallwood, this park is built on the Middle Brook River, a scheduled salmon river flowing from the interior to Freshwater Bay. The fishing is great here. One of the park's main attractions is a salmon ladder that permits salmon to bypass a waterfall and go upstream to spawn.

Premier Smallwood was born here and there's a lookout on Route 1, Joey's Lookout, that provides a great view of the town and a glacial ‘kame' deposit which flowed off the sides of glaciers 10,000 years ago. This is an excellent photographic vantage point overlooking the entire river valley. Logging used to be the main industry here, but a major fire in the early 1960s devastated the forests. The area is still famous for its red pine groves. The sandy terrain contrasts with peat bogs recently drained to grow hardy vegetables.

Down in the town there's a statue of Joey, and the Smallwood Interpretation Centre, which documents his life and work.