Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Winter Harbour.

I last visited Holberg in Northern Vancouver Island two years ago. Back then I thought this small logging settlement was the end of the World. I was wrong, Winter harbour, some 20 km beyond Holberg holds that title. To reach Holberg a 40 km gravel logging road winds its way through the dense forest from Port Hardy. Beyond Holberg the track becomes single file, rocky and treacherous, seeming to double back on itself, and twist and turn as if to confuse the traveller. It's a maize of unpaved logging roads only decipherable because of the signs at most junctions. Where the alternative tracks go is a mystery best left unsolved.
As I arrived in Winter Harbour, driving past the welcoming sign, I thought the settlement must consist of just one or two dwellings. In fact the village runs in a narrow strip along the edge of the tree lined fjord, shielded from the track by vegetation. On discovering the village the first thing you notice are the numerous billboards and signs warning that trespassing will be punishable by guard dog or worse! It is like entering a maximum security facility in the middle of nowhere. And yet there seems to be virtually no one around to either heed, or enforce the warnings. Winter Harbour gives the impression of a ghost town of rather cautious second home owners. But this place does have one feature which makes the long journey worth while. Winter Harbour has a magnificent board walk.
The board walk stretches most of the length of Winter Harbour. 3 planks wide, all laid length ways, there are few horizontal supports! The boards spring and flex with the weight of the walker sometimes quit precariously. As you bounce along, the board walk meanders mainly between quaint wooden dwellings and the sea. Occasionally a pier or jetty will project out at right angles into the fjord and out to a mooring. Most again are festooned with threatening "KEEP OFF" signs. The raised passage crosses beach and river beds, open areas of grass and penetrates patches of dense trees and other vegetation. Certainly when we were there it was deserted and peaceful allowing full appreciation of the stunning scenery in and around the hamlet.
Winter Harbour is really a haven for serious fisher folk and those that wish to escape people. It's difficult to get to and I don't think I'd make that journey again. Having said that I'm glad I did if only for Winter Harbour's delightful board walk.