Northern Soul – Cape Breton

Back in Baddeck, we hear promising things about the Chanterelle Inn, a halfhour drive north on the Cabot Trail – so on we go. When we get there, we meet innkeeper Earlene, who was so moved by the landscape and quality of life when she first arrived that she upped sticks from Colorado and built the Inn, on a hill overlooking the lake.

We sit on the back deck for hours while Earlene plies us home-grown) treats, chief among them a fresh, ink-coloured sticky pie made from yesterday’s crop of wild blueberries.

Chanterelle Inn and Cottages – Nova Scotia

Never have I felt so welcome. Or full. We stay for only a few hours, but when we drive away we find ourselves bickering over which of us Earlene liked best, and whether she might consider fostering us.

A burst tyre soon shuts us up. Wynn wrestles heroically with the spare while I consult the map and call the Halifax car rental company to see if they can replace it. They don’t quite laugh at us, but we are clearly too remote to be taken seriously. We need to decide whether or not to take the risk of driving the route on a spare.

Empty roads could be dangerous if it happens again. Deflated, we move on to Mabou, home to a locals’ favourite for both tunes and food: the Red Shoe. A simple white clapboard building with a glass front frames the cosy one-room establishment. We’re supposed to be debating the tyre situation, but three young musicians are playing raucous folk, and instead we dine on the freshest salmon and scallops.

After we’ve eaten, and indulged in some high-spirited ceilidhdancing, we go scuttling off in search of the liquid variety of Scottish heritage — namely the Glenora Distillery, producer of the first single-malt in Northern America.

The sturdy white-stone distillery is wrapped in a dense mist on a hillside, five minutes from Mabou. The main building is mirrored in a large pond, and the surrounding fields are busy with wild purple hollyhocks. In the old-school blackbeamed bar, one punter spins a great yarn about his cousin being hospitalised by a cat, and at least four of our fellow barflies confess to being related to the victim.

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