The Killick Coast Trail (55 km)

According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, a killick is "an anchor made up of an elongated stone, encased in pliable sticks bound at the top and fixed in two curved cross-pieces, used in mooring nets and small boats." In other words, it's a homemade anchor. The Killick Coast stretches from St. Thomas to Logy Bay on the northeast coast of the Avalon Peninsula and includes Bell Island. This is a favourite scenic drive for people who live in the area. It takes you into old fishing villages, a former mining town, and through farmland.

Coming east on Route 60, turn off onto Route 50 just beyond Topsail

Here, you are in St. Thomas – part of the town of Paradise. St. Thomas was settled in the early 1800s at Horse Cove Brook, but people moved to the hills east of where there was good land for farming. The community expanded toward St. Philip's, another farming community, which is today the western half of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. The Squires and Tucker families settled at St. Philip's in the 1760s, and these names predominate in the community today.

Portugal Cove was visited by Portuguese and French fishermen in the 1500s, and settled by the English in the 1600s. It's been the terminus for various boats that have served Conception Bay for almost 200 years.

From Portugal Cove, take the ferry to Bell Island

Across the tickle from Portugal Cove lies the historic mining community of Bell Island. Take the 20-minute ferry ride where you can tour the submarine iron mines, the lighthouse perched on a cliff and large outdoor murals based on the island's history. When travelling by coastal boat or ferry it's always a good idea to plan everything in advance. Schedules can vary.

The waters surrounding Bell Island (a huge chunk of reddish rock in Conception Bay) saw the first enemy action off Newfoundland's coast during World War II. On September 5, 1942, U-513, a German submarine, sank the S.S. Saganaga and the Lord Strathcona at their berths while waiting to load iron ore from the mines on Bell Island.

Then on November 2 another U-boat sank the PLM-27 and the Rose Castle. A monument to the sailors who lost their lives and the Bell Islanders who rescued the survivors stands at Lance Cove, which is where the island was first settled in the 1750s. John Guy, who founded a colony at Cupids in the early 17th century, was the first to notice the iron in the island's rocks, but mining operations didn't begin until 1895.

The pastoral community of 500 was transformed into a bustling mining community with a peak population of 14,000 and the island became a prosperous centre throughout the earlier part of the 20th century. The mine was phased out between 1959 and 1966 when it was closed due to technological changes in the international steel industry. The main ore shafts, which stretch eerily out for miles underneath Conception Bay, are all that is left of this former beehive of activity. Tours of the old mine are very popular with visitors and are available from the Bell Island Community Museum.

From the steep cliffs of the ‘Iron Isle' you have a panoramic view of Conception Bay, particularly Little Bell Island and Kellys Island. Legend holds Kellys Island was the rendezvous spot of swashbuckling pirate Captain Kelly, and his cohorts, who terrorized the Atlantic trade routes during the 17th century. An intriguing story of treasure on Kellys Island tells of a British naval officer who arrived in 1901 and hired a fisherman to row him out there. When they landed, he set out alone across the small island. Some time later, he returned with a large pot, which he bore with extreme difficulty. He pulled a gun on the fisherman and demanded to be landed on an uninhabited part of the shore. Once ashore he tossed a gold coin to the fisherman and disappeared.

Leaving Portugal Cove on Route 40, take Route 18, to connect with Route 21 to Bauline

Bauline is a fishing village on Conception Bay. The hills above Bauline provide a sweeping panoramic view of Conception Bay and the region.

Continue on Route 21 to Pouch Cove

A rough but passable road leads to the rugged headland of Cape St. Francis, found on one of the earliest maps of Newfoundland in existence – a chart dating back to 1527. It is believed to have been named by the Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real during his voyage to Newfoundland in 1501. During the fall, this is a great area for picking blueberries and partridgeberries.

At the end of Route 20 travel to Cape St. Francis

A rough but passable road leads to the rugged headland of Cape St. Francis, found on one of the earliest maps of Newfoundland in existence – a chart dating back to 1527. It is believed to have been named by the Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real during his voyage to Newfoundland in 1501. During the fall, this is a great area for picking blueberries and partridgeberries.

Back in Pouch Cove, take the main road (Route 20)

This takes you to another historically-interesting community, Flat Rock, which dates back to at least 1689. The name of this old fishing community comes from the flat rocks around the cove, which were ideal places to dry salt cod. A local point of interest is the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, a shrine blessed by Pope John Paul II, believed to be the largest religious shrine of its kind in eastern Canada.

Nearby Torbay was the scene of a strategic military maneuver in 1762. On September 13 of that year, British forces under Colonel Amherst used this village as their base of operation to retake a captured St. John's from the French army. The British expedition landed at Torbay and marched overland to outflank the French and overwhelm them. The town was likely named by fishermen after Torbay in Devonshire, England.

At Torbay, turn off onto Route 30 towards Marine Drive

Marine Drive winds in and out of the small communities along this coastline. This is one of the best points on the east coast of the island for photographing or just viewing the magnificent Atlantic seascape, which is sometimes dotted with breaching whales. Along the way you can visit Logy Bay. In Newfoundland ‘logy' means heavy, sluggish, or dull. The fish caught in this cove, generally of a large size, were termed logy, leading to the name.

In the last century, an enterprising St. John's doctor tried to establish a health spa here. Dr. Kielley sent a sample of the waters of a Logy Bay spring to Britain for analysis, which revealed that it contained minerals with presumably medicinal properties. The "chalybeate spring with nine chemical ingredients" was said to equal the famous German spas' curative effects.

Today, Logy Bay is a centre for scientific investigation and is the location of the Ocean Sciences Centre where continuing research is being carried out into the ocean habitat of the province. The laboratory is part of Memorial University of Newfoundland and houses a group of seals – a popular visitor attraction.

Marine Drive also passes through Middle Cove and Outer Cove (all part of the town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove), named for their positions along the coast. The elevated cliffs, wild seas, and exposed beaches that this coast is famous for are visible from a number of excellent highway vantage points and seaside parking facilities. This area easily rivals any highway tour in eastern North America for scenery. During late spring and early summer, it's a good area to see icebergs, and during the winters when Arctic ice drifts south to these waters, the ice stretches to the horizon. Middle Cove Beach is also a traditional area to catch capelin and watch for whales.