We learned about the lesser-known attractions of the Baie Verte Peninsula from a friend and local Newfoundlander. While we were on a summer road trip across Canada, she invited us to visit her out-of-the-way home.
Newfoundland is made up of many small outports; rural fishing communities that seem immune to haste. Our friend suggested visiting an outport called Westport (population 200). In Westport we could photograph the rocky coastline and hike to the Westport Cove Lighthouse.
Our GPS-navi accurately guided our paved drive to Westport but finding the Westport Cove Lighthouse was not so effortless. We enlisted the help of a (near) century-old local man to find the century-old lighthouse.
With a sea-leathered face and white hair (straying underneath his Toronto Bluejays ball cap) it was difficult to pinpoint the man’s age. Turns out he lived across the cove, it was his birthday, and even at 75 he still hiked 10km a day.
The guy was a hoot to talk with. We chatted about life in the outport town, the coast guard’s role in maintaining the lighthouse, and the hiking trails he loved. He showed us how to find the trail to the Westport Cove Lighthouse (which isn’t visible from shore) and told us not to park on the wharf. Then he just wandered off… so we hiked to the lighthouse.
What’s So Great About It?
Westport is old-world charming. Its history is entangled with the fishing industry and the wharf is still active. Walking the community’s shoreline is a great way to experience the rugged serenity of a Newfoundland outport.
But the hidden gem is the Westport Cove Lighthouse itself.
The Westport Cove Lighthouse was established in 1906. The coast guard maintains it and access into the building is technically denied. But when we visited the door was open and according to our elderly local friend, the lighthouse is always open. Do with this tidbit of information as you will.
The lighthouse is (now) solar powered, made of wood, painted white, and has an octagonal shape. It’s pretty, yet as lighthouses go the Westport Cove Lighthouse isn’t tall which makes it easy to climb to the top if you happen to find yourself inside.
The lighthouse compensates for its short structure by perching high above the ocean. It’s located on a rocky cliff with outstanding views of Newfoundland’s raw coastline. Don’t forget your camera.
The most difficult part of the 0.8 km hike to the Westport Cove Lighthouse is the steep stairway at the start but it’s not beyond the reach of mobile seniors or young children.
After the stairway is a wide boardwalk through the forest that has picnic areas and, if you’re there in the season, bushes of wild berries. Use some caution if it’s misty as the boardwalk gets slippery. The hike switches from boardwalk to beaten-down path just before reaching the lighthouse.
Road trippers with an RV rejoice; unlike many outports, the Westport dock is accessible by large vehicles.
How to Get There
Finding the Westport Cove Lighthouse should earn you an explorer’s badge. Leave Highway 1 at Sheppardvile, turning north on Route 410. Drive 44 km (you will pass Flatwater Pond Campground) then turn left onto Route 411 towards Westport for 28 km.
The road will take you straight to a T-intersection with the water’s edge of Westport Cove. Turn right towards the community wharf. The wharf has a parking area and turn-around spacious enough for semi-trailers (or RVs).
Opposite the wharf is a white house with a wooden-gazebo. The stairway that starts the hike to Westport Cove Lighthouse is behind the gazebo.
Latitude: 49.78635 Longitude: -56.6459
Recommended by Tim and Heather
Tim and Heather are becoming the authority on meaningful travel. Ditching their corporate lives they founded The Travel Type, but soon realized their constant exploring lacked purpose. Now they promote actions that help them – and other travellers – add meaning to their travel.