Liscombe Lodge, Nova Scotia—A Marine Motel!


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.


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.


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.


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

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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 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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