Grenfell Loop (178 km)

The handful of communities on the east coast of the Great Northern Peninsula were once French summer fishing stations. Take Route 432 South from St. Anthony airport to Roddickton where an underground salmon pool marks an unusual migration route. East on Route 434, the French Shore Interpretation Centre in Conche tells the area's history. Nearby Crouse, resettled in the 1960s, is a favourite destination for hikers.

Enter the Grenfell Loop, Route 432, from Route 430 near Plum Point

There are two ways to drive the Grenfell Loop. You can take the south entrance onto Route 432 near Plum Point, or the northern entrance near the St. Anthony Airport. On this trip we'll take the southern entrance.

Drive 53 kilometres across Route 432 to meet Route 433, and continue south 14 kilometres to reach Roddickton.

The best time to be here is in spring and summer when the salmon are migrating upstream to spawn through the Underground Salmon Pool. Waters that originate in low mountains 30 kilometres away move down Beaver Brook. The area here is made up of limestone, which is easily eroded.

There are a number of underground channels here and salmon swim right into these caves during migration. You can see the cave entrance and salmon jumping in the river. Wear sturdy footwear. There are several hiking trails in the area, and it's a good place to see unusual flowers and, of course, moose. Actually, it would be unusual to visit here and not see a moose.

Travel 24 kilometres along the gravel Route 434 to Conche

East of Roddickton, the best place to start is at the French Shore Interpretation Centre, which explains the French and English history of the area. It's housed in a former Grenfell nursing station. The French fished here from the early 16th century, and held shore rights here until 1904.

During the Napoleonic era, few French fishermen came here due to the wars, so the English moved in. The centre has one of three chaloupes built by a Basque craftsman in 2004 to mark the 500th anniversary of the French arrival in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One of the oldest houses in the community has been converted into the Casey House Artist's Retreat. Ask at the centre if there's an artist in residence and if there's an exhibit. There are 12 kilometres of hiking trails in the town, and a trail map is available at the centre. One popular destination is Crouse, a now deserted village that was resettled in the 1960s.

Head back to Route 432 and go south 21 kilometres to Englee

Englee is a small fishing village, originally occupied by the French. It became an English settlement in the 19th century.

The interpretation centre now houses one of the most extraordinary pieces of art in the province: the French Shore Tapestry. This 222-foot-long creation on starched linen tells the centuries-long story of the French Shore. It was designed by acclaimed artist Jean Claude Roy in the style of the Bayeux tapestry, and was embroidered by women from the community.

Back along Routes 433 and 432, turn off at Route 438 to more French sites

A gravel road leads to Croque, St. Julien's and Grandois. Just before entering Grandois is a 1.5-kilometre trail that leads to an old French site at St. Julien's. The French Point trail in Grandois leads to another old French site. It may be possible to arrange boat trips to the abandoned communities of St. Julien's Island, Fichot Island and Harbour de Vieux. This is also a good place to see whales and icebergs. Englee is a small fishing village, originally occupied by the French. It became an English settlement in the 19th century.

Grandois (pronounced “grand-swah” from the French “les grandes oyes” or great geese) and St. Julien's are essentially a single community. French fishermen were here in the early 1500s, and relics of their stay are still visible, such as the bread ovens found in the area.

Backtrack a few kilometres to Croque, a name that probably comes from the old French work “croc” or boat-hook. This humble community was once the capital of the French Shore because French boats fishing in the area had to register here.

The old waterfront is an interesting area with traditional fishing premises. Stop by the visitor centre to see some French artifacts, or go on a guided walk. There's also a French naval cemetery and, most intriguingly, the names of French ports and ships carved in rocks by 19th-century French fishermen at the end of the 1.5-kilometre Epine Cadoret Trail.

Drive back to Route 432 and turn north to Main Brook

Main Brook is an excellent area for nature viewing. Just north of the town in Hare Bay is the Hare Bay Islands Ecological Reserve, established as a protective area for eider ducks. After nesting season is over, it's possible to take a boat tour to the area. Keep an eye out for the ever-present moose, plus seals, black bears, whales, porpoises and sea and shorebirds. This is an excellent area for hunting and fishing. There's also an award-winning adventure tour operator here who offers a variety of nature-culture packages.

Route 432 connects with Route 430 to St. Anthony

Route 432 connects with Route 430 at the St. Anthony airport, about 50 minutes from St. Anthony, the largest town in the area. St. Anthony is the home of the Grenfell Mission, established by the International Grenfell Association to provide medical services to the scattered and isolated population of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador.