Saturday, 20 July 2013

Icebergs and Vikings on the Northern Peninsula

 by Keith and Heather Nicol   
 We recently took my brother and his wife on a tour of the Northern Peninsula and their goals were seeing moose, whales and icebergs and we scored 100% on all counts. Bruce and Mary Ellen had been here over 20 years ago and at that time they had their 3 young children in tow which meant that most of our activities were close to our home in Corner Brook. We headed north on highway 430 (the Viking Trail) on Saturday, July 13 and made a stop at the scenic Arches before having a picnic lunch at Flowers Cove.  As we headed into the St. Lunaire-Griquet area we started looking for icebergs and no sooner had we rounded the bend than we saw our first bergs in St. Lunaire harbour. We decided to head to higher ground and were rewarded with the view of a couple of large icebergs that were grounded just at the entrance to the harbour. After taking a number of pictures we headed on toward the Parks Canada Viking site at L’anse aux  Meadows. 
There were several icebergs in St. Lunaire harbour
     We arrived at L’anse aux Meadows around 4:00 pm and had a great tour with guide Clayton Colbourne. He told us when he was a child that he used to play in the area where the reconstructed sod huts are located today and his low key humorous presentation is well worth attending. L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site ( is also an UNESCO World Heritage site and is the only documented site of Viking settlement in North America.  It also brings together the full circle of human migration which spread in many directions from Africa over 100,000 years ago. Little did the Viking know when they arrived in L’anse aux Meadows 1000 years ago and came face to face with native peoples (that had arrived in the other direction from Asia) that they had closed the migration loop. The Parks Canada has interpreters in period costume in the recreated sod huts that help explain what life might have been like for those early Norse settlers.
Clayton Colboune gives a great tour at the Viking site at L'anse aux Meadows
     For supper we had booked a table at one of our favorite restaurants in the province, appropriately named the Norseman Restaurant ( located just a few kilometers from the “Viking” sod huts. This restaurant does a great job of food presentation and the food tastes as good as it looks. We had an absolutely delicious lobster gnocci and curried mussels for an appetizer and then we had all sorts of amazing fish dishes for our main course. A real treat was salmon with a bakeapple sauce and the halibut with pesto and sundried tomatoes was also very flavourful. Most of us were too full for dessert but we couldn’t leave without trying the Figgy Duff so we ordered one with 4 spoons! Yum, Yum. It is no wonder that the Norseman consistently is ranked as one of the province’s top restaurants. 
The bakeapple salmon was one of many dishes we enjoyed at the Norseman Restaurant
    That night we stayed at the comfortable Southwest Brook Cabins ( in nearby Griquet. We discovered these cabins a few years ago and we like their country setting with a small pond just below the cabins. They are large and come fully equipped.   A real bonus was the personal attention we got from the attendant, Frances Hedderson when we arrived. We happened to mention that we wondered if there were any moose hanging around and 20 minutes later there was a knock at the door and Frances mentioned that her husband had seen one just off the main road a short distance away. “It is laying in the grass by the stream so it abit hard to see” she told us but we headed off anyway and sure enough we could see it nestled in the grass 100 meters away. 
We like the country setting of the Southwest Pond Cabins



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