We all know that 2017 has been one big year long celebration thus far.

The party continues.
Recently I went on a Red Bench bus tour hosted by the Municipality of the County of Kings-the last of 4 that were spread out over the summer and fall. The brain child of Mayor Peter Muttart  and his councilors, the tour was designed to visit each of the 5 permanently installed benches  throughout Kings County as the municipality’s contribution to Canada’s big 150 birthday.

Our guide for the tour was David Poole, now retired and formerly with the municipality’s planning department.  He did a great job, spicing his dialogue with little stories  about the area and his life.

Here’s the great thing-you can do this tour in your car. Course you may not get all the dirt, err, information we got, but it would be fun just the same.  It was a daylong trip for us, but you may want to spread it out over a weekend. Grab a map of the itinerary  here

 Red Bench #1 Aylesford Lake.

The gate to the  beach  is locked this time of year, but you don’t mind a little stroll in  from the road,do you? Aylesford Lake is the only one in Kings County with lifeguards on staff during the summer months. It’s also fully accessible including the canteen, toilets and picnic areas. It’s part of the Gaspereau Watershed.

Aylesford Lake Rd Bench Tour

Aylesford Lake- Bench Tour – Susan Carey photo

What You Need To Know About Aylesford Lake

Aylesford Lake is located on North River Road,accessed either from Aylesford Rd or English Mountain Rd. Take Exit 14 (Coldbook) and turn left onto Hwy 1 then left onto English Mountain Rd, or Exit 16, turn left go down through Berwick, and then right onto Hwy 1.Take  a left onto Aylesford Rd and then left again onto North River Rd.Whew! You made it. I hope.
The sand on that beach was trucked in, grain by grain.
They have  a strict no pets policy,excluding service dogs.

Red Bench #2  McMaster Mills.

This was  a spot that was completely new to me. I found  a lot of great history of the Mill provided by family and former employees . The site perches aside the Fales River and occupies approximately 3 acres of land south of Greenwood. A foundation and other remains of the old mill are clearly visible  around the park.

McMaster Mills Red Bench Tour

McMaster Mills Red Bench Tour-Susan Carey photo

It’s a beautiful spot, and the trail down to the falls itself is pretty much accessible-I say pretty much – a bit of the trail has a little wash out from rain, but with care you can get by that. Once you are of the board walk, the trail tends to be a bit steep going down. What is NOT accessible for wheel chairs is the red bench itself-I had to hop over  wet and rocky spots to get to it. There is a short walking trail and interpretive signage.

What You Need to Know About McMaster Mills

McMaster Mills is located at 205 Rocknotch Rd. From Aylesford Lake, continue along North River until you hit Aylesford Rd, turn right and then left onto Harmony Rd. Turn right on Rocknotch Road

If you follow my directions to Crystal Falls, you will pass right by it,so plan  a picnic to enjoy after your hike to the falls.

Red Bench #3  Morden

Once called French Cross, the community prides itself on it’s historical significance. Imagine yourself  shivering, starving with scant shelter, your only hope being  to escape deportment from the hands of the British. Such was the plight of the Acadians  in the winter of 1755. The cross, though not the original one, tells the sad story of Pierre Melanson and the Acadians left behind as he crossed the Bay of Fundy for help. Over  a third of their number perished during that long cold winter.

French Cross @ Morden Red Bench Tour

French Cross @ Morden Red Bench Tour

Seafood Chowder, Morden Red Bench Tour

Seafood Chowder, Morden Red Bench Tour-Susan Carey photo

What You Need to Know About Morden

Morden sits directly on the banks of the Bay of Fundy. Take Exit 16 from Hwy 101 to Hwy 1,then take Hwy 361 right up over the North Mountain.

You can beach comb but always check the tide times. We don’t recommend any beaching combing  later than 3 hours before high tide. Please don’t. Its dangerous.

Isle Haute  dominates the  view from Morden. Going there is on my bucket list. If it’s on yours, you can book a boat tour to the island in Advocate.

We were sumptuously fed a wonderful chowder luncheon by the Morden Community Hall Association  and I hear though the grapevine the monthly breakfasts are awesome as well. To find out when the breakfasts are (They are finished for 2017) or any other Morden community event,click here.

Red Bench #4 The Look-off

For over a century, it’s been a favorite of locals and visitors alike.  One of Nova Scotia’s provincial parks, on a clear day, panoramic views of 5 counties and the Minas Basin are in store for those who choose to stop at the pull off atop Hwy 358. There are washrooms onsite. However, last time I checked, someone had chosen to make it disgusting. (What’s wrong with people? )

Look Off Red Bench Tour

Look Off Red Bench Tour- Susan Carey Photo

The cafe across the street has washroom facilities -I’m sure they would appreciate a purchase of an ice cream , or some other item,though. They do have supply the tp, after all.

What You Need to Know About the Look Off

Take Exit 11 from Hwy 101,head down to hwy 1  and go straight though the lights towards Port Williams.That is hwy 358 -keep going up the North Mountain and towards Scots Bay-you can’t miss it.

Directly across the road is that cafe I mentioned which also offers a campground.

Less than 15 km away is the infamous Cape Split Hiking Trail, a 12 km in and out trail to a scenic look off atop the Bay of Fundy. It’s a exceedingly well used trail, but that doesn’t mean you can go off and be stupid. The cliffs at the end are constantly eroding-stay away from the edge and please, keep your dogs away from the edge!! Tell someone where you are going. Take food and water. Keep your dog on a leash for its own safety.There are a few hills along the trail but nothing too serious-I did it again this spring (2017).It is now  a provincial park (yay) but the only washrooms are at the beginning. So, plan accordingly.

 Red Bench #5 Veterans Memorial View Park

Last but not least is this  scenic pull off with views of Cape Blomindon, Five Islands and the Avon River. There are interpretive signage that’s worth taking the time to read, a gazebo and of course the Red Bench. Bring your camera.

What You Need to Know About Veterans Memorial Park

Take Exit 9 to Hwy 1 east towards Hantsport and then right onto West Brooklyn Rd. The park is on the right-can’t miss it.

Veteran's Memorial View Park Red Bench Tour

Veteran’s Memorial View Park Red Bench Tour-Susan Carey photo

If you retrace your steps to the roundabout and turn onto the Bluff Rd (You’ll pass a school and a church) and drive another 5 kms, you will come upon Blue Beach  Rd. on your left. Turn down that(it’s dirt) and park on the other side of the train bridge to wander down (5  minutes-very rutty) and try your hand at fossil finding. I can’t believe I need to say it again, but remember the tides, folks. Tide times for that area(Tides are different in every area just so you know) are here.

Please be of the beach by 3 hours before high tide, lest you find yourself in a quite dangerous predicament.

The Blue Beach Fossil Museum is to the left of the parking space-many rare and important fossils have been found on this beach and Chris Mansky along with his partner, Sonja Wood are  owner/operators of the Blue Beach Fossil Museum. Chris is an  expert in this field. It’s a good idea to stop at the museum with your finds.