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Healthy things to do


To swarve is "to stroll aimlessly", according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, but it's not much good for you except that you are probably out in the fresh air and entertaining a few onlookers! And to walk is no doubt good exercise, but it's done mostly on relatively level surfaces for relatively short distances. But to hike is usually a long walk for pleasure and exercise. And it's usually a challenge. You can hike with just sneakers on but it is safer with proper hiking boots because most hiking trails are on uneven ground, up and down hills and over rocks and stumps. Protecting your ankles is very important. I do suggest, however, that before you try long trails you should wear your hiking boots for a while on short trails to break them in. There is nothing worse than getting half way and your feet start to hurt.

To swarve is "to stroll aimlessly", according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, but it's not much good for you except that you are probably out in the fresh air and entertaining a few onlookers! And to walk is no doubt good exercise, but it's done mostly on relatively level surfaces for relatively short distances. But to hike is usually a long walk for pleasure and exercise. And it's usually a challenge.

You can hike with just sneakers on but it is safer with proper hiking boots because most hiking trails are on uneven ground, up and down hills and over rocks and stumps. Protecting your ankles is very important. I do suggest, however, that before you try long trails you should wear your hiking boots for a while on short trails to break them in. There is nothing worse than getting half way and your feet start to hurt.

To be prepared for hiking, there are other things you should consider.

Carry water with you - this is a must; take something to eat, definitely if you take the kids; wear or carry a sweater because weather in Newfoundland can change fast; use a hiking stick - not required but a great help; take a first aid kit; always, always stay on the trail because even in Twillingate if it becomes foggy it is difficult to see where you are going and most trails are along the edge of cliffs.

Always let someone know where you are hiking and what time to expect you back. And always do some warm-up exercises including stretches before starting.

Twillingate has eight great trails from which to choose. There is something for everyone, no matter what level of hiker you are. Most trails are along the coastline and range from level two to five with distances from two to six miles. I have hiked most of the East coast trails on the Avalon, several trails in Central and Western Newfoundland, in parts of Canada and the United States, and I assure you that Twillingate trails are equal to any others that I have done and better than some.

On the trails in Twillingate you can see some of the most beautiful rugged coastline in the province. According to season, you can see icebergs and whales as well as view interesting plants, rock formations, beaches and lots of history of communities long gone. Each trail has its unique beauty and things to see, such as root cellars, beaches and remnants of old communities. For kids, and adults who are kids at heart, you will find many creations in the rock and cliffs such as Queen Victoria, the Gorilla, a cobra snake, an Indian, a sea cave, a natural archway and many more. Take a hike and see what's there.

Eight great trails:

#1 Lighthouse to Cuckold's Point my favourite. The trail takes you past rugged coastline, interesting coves and beaches like Devil's Cove, Horney Head Cove with a sea cave, and Cuckold's point with an outstanding view of Twillingate harbour. This trail in the future will be connected to Crow Head and the trail to Sleepy Cove. This trail is worth the hike. About six miles: level 4-5 because of the distance. (This is a trail you should do after you have completed all the others).

#2 Lighthouse viewing platform to Lower Head. Go left from the viewing platform, down the steps and turn right to Nanny's Hole, then back to Sleepy Cove, across Sea Breeze Park and on to Lower Head. You will pass root cellars and at Lower Head see the Gorilla's Head rock formation while taking in a great view of Crow Head. At Lower Head the trail will loop around to give you a great view of the rugged coastline and Sleepy Cove. About four miles: Level 2-3.

#3 Mutford's Cove to Twillingate Museum. A great trail to spend a day with the kids, very easy going. You can enter the trail at many locations. Visit Gaullis Cove, a great sandy beach with a huge Devil's Track (track of lava flow that was developed millions of years ago when this area had active volcanoes). Visit Spencer's Park and bring a ball or Frisbee. You can continue on the old road or follow the beach to Back Harbour and to Batrix Island. And on to Twillingate Museum and historic St. Peter's church, built in 1845. About three-four miles depending where you enter: Level 2-3.

#4 French Beach to Spiller's Cove. This is one of the most interesting hikes with rugged coastline that can stir your imagination, rock formations and sea stacks, a hole in the wall and great beaches. Look for the Cobra Snake, the Indian, the Old Man on the Cliff and the Camel. Just look and see what you can find. About four-five miles: Level 3-4.

#5 Spiller's Cove to Codjack Cove. Rugged coastline, rock pillars, steep cliffs and beautiful Codjack Cove. A great trail to stir your interest in geology. You can just sit to look and wonder how the land and cliffs were made. About four-five miles: Level 3-4.

#6 Lower Little Harbour. See the area of a resettled community, root cellars, winter home of Thomas Sugg, 30-foot natural arch and beautiful Jones Cove (no other place like it). Great area to see wild flowers like the Pitcher Plant and Round Leaf Sun Dew (and please do not pick the plants, they are in their natural habitat and for all of us to enjoy). About threemiles: Level 2-3.

#7 Top of Twillingate. A great nature hike and a site for bird watching. Hike to the highest point of land on Twillingate Islands and climb up a well built tower to get a panoramic view of Twillingate Islands. If there are icebergs in the area, this is the place to see where they are located. About two and one half miles: Level 2-3.

#8 Hospital Pond Trail. Not really a hiking trail but a great place to start with an access to Minty's Farm via the waterline trail. A great walk through a flower garden and around the pond and swimming area. You will see wild flowers, birds and butterflies. The trail around the pond is wheelchair accessible. About one mile: Level 1.

Whatever your choice of trail, welcome to the great outdoors. Be careful and always bring your supplies with you. The idea of trails is to take you somewhere - to the shoreline, hills or beaches. Stay on the trails for your own safety and to protect the plants and landscape. Some of those plants could be thousands of years old. Always bring back your garbage and never destroy nature, it's there for all of us to enjoy.

We are the keepers of this land, so let's leave it better than when we came. Now, get out there and start hiking. I hope to meet you on the trails.

Fred Bridger, retired, now has the opportunity, he suggests, to devote even more time to hiking and he loves it. He is also president of the Twillingate Islands Tourism Association, a position he has held for a number of years.

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