Coastal Access - East Side of St. Margaret's Bay
The Peggy's Cove Preservation Area is a Conservation Area enacted by the Nova Scotia Government to preserve the unique scenic beauty, character and atmosphere of the Peggy's Cove Barrens for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors. The area is a striking barren landscape, almost primeval in nature, with tundra like vegetation strewn with granite boulders, some larger than a car, which were deposited after the retreat of the last glaciers twelve thousand years ago. Needless to say it is breathtaking place to walk with views of the North Atlantic Ocean in all seasons of the year.
One of the best access points to these barrens is Polly’s Cove. Polly’s Cove is situated 2km away from the entrance to Peggy’s Cove, or just after West Dover on the left side of the Highway 333 if coming from Halifax. It is easy to miss, since there are no signs, and there is only a dirt parking area big enough for a couple of cars. The only indication of the trailhead may be the other cars already parked or pulled over there.
Polly’s Cove is much less well known than Peggy’s Cove, so it’s not crowded with tourists, and has lots of space to quietly enjoy the unique landscape. It’s a great area to explore by a series of paths, but take care not to disrupt the fragile eco-system found here in the granite coastal barrens. There can be soggy areas, so be sure to wear waterproof hikers preferably with ankle support due to the uneven nature of the granite.
Many people walk their dogs at Polly’s Cove. Swimming is not recommended at any time and there are no public facilities or garbage disposal so whatever you take in – take out.
Included in the Preservation area is the Village of Peggy’s Cove itself. At the mouth of the Bay it is a short jog off Highway 333. Undoubtedly the symbol of Nova Scotia is the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. It appears in every tourism campaign, and is photographed more than anywhere else in Nova Scotia, if not Canada.
The village of Peggy’s Cove is a working fishing village and people live here, so respect this fact. Walking can be easy or difficult depending on how far you venture on the large granite outcrops. You can follow your own path as you scamper along the huge boulders and use the Lighthouse as your point of reference. Proper footwear is highly recommended.
There are plenty of Warning Signs about staying a safe distance away from the surf, for good reason. It may look safe but
every once and awhile there are rogue waves sometimes twice as big as the others. There are almost yearly incidents of someone getting swept away and drowning.
There is a large parking lot adjacent the Sou’Wester Restaurant and another one down in the village where there are public toilet facilities. There are picnic tables for visitors. Pets should be kept on a leash and young children watched closely should they wander too close to the edge.
On the Highway 333 approach to Peggy’s Cove from the Tantallon Crossroads there are two access points with short trails to the water’s edge at Cranberry Cove. This is a favorite for scuba divers.
At Whalesback is the Swissair Memorial. On September 2, 1998 Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. A short walking trail (160 m) leads from ample parking to a monument in memory of the 229 people who lost their lives.
The memorial is made from a barren’s boulder which was cut in half. It is definitely a place for quiet reflection or prayer. The views of the barrens, the bay, and the ocean are remarkable. It is wheelchair accessible.