Liscombe Lodge, Nova Scotia—A Marine Motel!

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Well, the sunshine continued but the wind didn’t for the next leg of our mini-cruise: 30 nm to the Liscomb River, a haven that we have taken advantage of over the years as a welcome stop after beating against the prevailing southwest winds from the St. Peters Canal, as a snug hideout from a threatening hurricane, and/or as a luxurious treat after an Arctic voyage. On this cruise we visited just for fun!

map NS
We were hoping to take advantage of the calm by exploring the convoluted passages formed by the numerous offshore islands that hug the coast between Shelter Cove and the Liscomb River, but the tide didn’t serve—low tide was in mid-afternoon, meaning all the tricky navigation would have to be done on a falling tide, not seamanlike—and so we took the longer offshore route.

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The Liscome river looks intimidating, but just follow the buoys (some not shown on charts) and you will do fine and carry at least 3 meters all the way to the lodge.

The Liscombe River looks intimidating, but just follow the buoys (some not shown on charts) and you will do fine and carry at least 3 meters all the way to the lodge.

About 6 miles up the Liscomb River is Liscombe Lodge, a hotel built in 1960 to cater to fishermen chasing salmon spawning up the river (the river is spelt without an “e” and the lodge is spelt with an “e”, apparently after a place in Scotland). Unfortunately, clear cutting runoff and acid rain combined forces to kill off the salmon. And so the Lodge struggles to remain a viable operation, billing itself as “the nature lover’s destination”, in a time when nature seems to be losing its appeal for many.

JHHOMD1-9271013However, on a beautiful fall weekend like we are blessed with for our visit, the place is hopping. Chester, the marina operator who has greeted us each time we’ve visited over the last 23 years, is kept busy taking groups of people down the river in the pontoon boat, regaling them with stories of the wildlife and history of this area. Brightly coloured kayaks and canoes come and go from the beach.

When we sign the book at the hotel reception to inform them that we are taking the 10-km (6-mile) hike along the Liscomb River, which we walk every time we visit, I notice that we are the fifth group to head out that day.

As we hike up the river the fall colours seem to get more and more intense. We stop to eat lunch on a rock on the bank, looking back down the river at gurgling rapids and trees on fire from the sun shining through their orange and red leaves.

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At the furthest point of the hike, a suspension bridge provides access to the other side of the river for the return trip. Just up from the bridge is a waterfall and, in 1977, a fish ladder was constructed to help restocked salmon get past the waterfall. Unfortunately, the restocking program was not successful.

About halfway back to the Lodge, we stop to pick up empty Coke and beer cans tossed into the bushes at the side of the path. It’s beyond me how people can be strong enough to carry a full drink can into the woods but then are too weak to carry the empty one out.

Other than the litterbug the walk is pretty close to perfect: bright sunshine and just enough breeze to cool us off and keep any stray mosquitos away.

When we look out the companionway the next day, we find ourselves surrounded by sea (river?) smoke curling ethereally in the crisp morning chill.

After doing laundry at the marina office, and a rousing game of table tennis in the Recreation Centre (marina guests are welcome to utilize all the Lodge’s amenities), we hike Mayflower Point—a leisurely 1.5 hour walk that meanders along the river across from the boat. As the icing on the cake, we once again find just enough partridgeberries to add colour and tang to our after dinner yoghurt.

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It’s been another great stop on our fall mini-cruise.

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Meet the Author

Phyllis

Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

18 comments… add one
  • Ju Randall Nov 7, 2014, 6:34 pm

    dont think there’s a Liscombe in Scotland, but there is one in Exmoor in Devon?! Lovely read, though.

  • Scott Kuhner Nov 7, 2014, 7:08 pm

    I love this new format. The pictures, especially the maps brings it all to life.

  • Bill Sikich Nov 7, 2014, 7:37 pm

    Wonderful photos!

  • Mark Wareham Nov 7, 2014, 10:03 pm

    Great spot. We visited in 2008 on our way home to Newfoundland. Food was delicious at the restaurant and the kids loved the indoor pool.

  • Heather Holm Nov 7, 2014, 10:20 pm

    We holed up there out of the weather in 2007 on our way back home to Mahone Bay from Cape Breton. Going so far up the river was an interesting experience, especially with our then 7 year old, wondering what was around the next corner, and the next. Chester let him steer the pontoon boat. Nice memories.

  • richard s. (s/v lakota) Nov 8, 2014, 11:42 am

    joyous reading as usual esp with the new format…here’s another vote for it…isn’t it ‘farthest’ rather than ‘furthest’ in this case ? cheers,

    richard in tampa bay (soon to return to the leeward caribbean isles again…few more weeks)

    • Phyllis Nov 9, 2014, 9:03 am

      Hi, Richard; I was interested in the difference, so looked them both up and it seems that furthest and farthest can be used interchangeably but I agree with you: I think farthest is better and I will use it in this context in the future. Thanks!

  • Gus Wilson Nov 8, 2014, 12:01 pm

    We have very fond memories from a few years ago of spending a few days on the river and by the lodge, although on the one(?) mooring downstream a ways from the lodge, enjoying the hot tub, if my memory is correct, and having a delicious meal. While we sat in the restaurant near the window a sharp-shinned hawk tried to snag a bird from the bird feeder by the window.

  • Brandon Ford Nov 8, 2014, 12:46 pm

    I like the new layout. Great photos!

  • Niels Seaton Nov 8, 2014, 3:14 pm

    This new format is very good – Ju is correct in noting that there is no Liscombe in Scotland and that it is in Exmoor – it is a small village in Somerset and not Devon – it’s a beautiful area and not too far from the Bristol Channel harbours of Minehead and Watchet, regular weekend hops for us from Cardiff. There are lots of ‘combes’ in the area, e.g. Nettlecombe, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin – a combe being a smal valley. The word derives from the same source as our Welsh ‘cwm’.

    Liscombe has one of the 2 Met Office weather stations for Exmoor.

    Exmoor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exmoor

    Much appreciate your posts – hope to enjoy more as winter settles in….

    Niels

  • Sid Shaw Nov 8, 2014, 7:58 pm

    Thanks for your beautiful description which rekindled fond memories of one of our favorite cruising stops. We stopped there in 1998 and were there when the Swissair jet crashed down the coast at Peggy’s Cove.

    The sail up the river to the lodge was beautiful and was made even more interesting in that our borrowed chart was lacking any latitude or longitude markings.

    It is so well protected that we had no idea of the conditions along the coast. Chester insisted that we take his truck and drive to the coast to convince ourselves that it was not the day to depart from the lodge.

  • Fred Wittenberg Nov 8, 2014, 9:09 pm

    John,
    The layout is perfect. Enjoyed the artistic quality of your pictures

  • Phyllis Nov 9, 2014, 9:06 am

    Thanks all for the nice comments. Great to hear that others have enjoyed this stop as much as we have. Also good to know that Liscombe is in Exmoor – we’ll have to tell them that the next time as their brochures say Scotland!

  • Bozidar Modrcin Nov 9, 2014, 5:12 pm

    I like the new format.

  • Nick Kats Nov 11, 2014, 6:23 am

    There is an extraordinary intimacy in having your deepwater sailboat anchored far up a tiny river surrounded by the autumn forest & cool temperature.

    • John Nov 11, 2014, 9:44 am

      Hi Nick,

      So true, and what a loverly way to put it.

  • John Nov 11, 2014, 10:02 am

    Hi All,

    Thanks for all the positive comments about the layout. We will keep it for destination pieces and others that will benefit from larger photos. By the way, this is all part of the thinking and experimenting we are doing that will eventually result in a new design for the site. Having said that, we want to be careful not to break things since this layout seems to have served us well.

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