One of the best stops on my Cape Breton trip was a place I hadn’t planned to visit — up until about an hour before sunset. Low Point Lighthouse is a beautiful old lighthouse overlooking the entrance to Sydney Harbour. It’s the kind of place that you probably wouldn’t find unless you were looking for it, which means there’s a good chance you’ll be the only person there.
Low Point Lighthouse is located at the north end of Sydney Harbour, on the east side. From Sydney, take Trunk Route 28 north to the New Victoria community. Turn left on Browns Road, Right on Browns Road Extension, and left on Lighthouse Road (or more simply, find the northernmost point of land on your GPS device, and let it direct you).
Sunset was only about an hour away, and much to my surprise, the gloomy sky was starting to break up. I realized there was going to be a nice sunset, but I had no idea where to go to enjoy and photograph it. I glanced at my map and noticed the lighthouse, on a lonely bluff north of Sydney. If I could get there in time, I thought, it would be an excellent spot. So, I headed up Trunk Route 28.
I couldn’t believe what I found. At the end of a dirt road, with barely enough room to park, and out a short trail, I discovered the Low Point Lighthouse. It sits here, all alone, still illuminating the entrance to Sydney Harbour, just as it has since 1938. No crowds. No heads bobbing in and out of my pictures. Just sea and sky and a beautiful, classic red-and-white lighthouse. What a treat.
Oh, and do you see that ship in the picture? That’s the same cruise ship that was leaving Sydney when I was in town earlier. I managed to catch up with it before it headed out into the ocean!
I did some exploring, even though it was somewhat strange to have the whole place to myself. The lighthouse is positioned on a “low” point, not very far above sea level. The coast is reinforced, but it’s slowly breaking down, and without some eventual improvements, the foundation of the lighthouse could be threatened.
There are some remnants of structures that suggest there used to be more here. Notice that weird-looking concrete “table”…
… and an old foundation. There used to be several structures near the lighthouse, including lighthouse keepers’ quarters and supply buildings.
From the lighthouse, you have a great view down the coast into Sydney Harbour. The prominent building on the horizon (which sort-of looks like another lighthouse) is actual Fort Petrie — one of several World War-era military installations that once guarded the harbor.
Not only did I have enough time to get to Low Point before sunset, I had some extra time to spare, as I watched the clouds and the light change…
… and eventually, the sun set.
And all this time, I didn’t see a single other person.
Once almost all the daylight was gone, I walked back to my car, which was parked at the dead-end of Lighthouse Road, in front of someone’s house. The owner was mowing his lawn, and when he saw me, he stopped the mower and walked over.
Oh boy, I thought. I’m about to get yelled at for parking here and wandering around on private property.
Instead, I met Rob Grezel, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. We talked about the lighthouse, and then he told me that he is the caretaker of Fort Petrie (remember that building on the horizon?) just down the road. He asked if I’d like a behind-the-scenes tour of the fort, and I said “Sure!” He said “When?”, and I said “How about tomorrow morning?”
And so, the next day, I drove up Route 28 again, for a look at Fort Petrie. More about that on the next page.
Here’s a look at the drive around Sydney…
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… from Sydney up to Low Point Light…
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… and from Sydney to the Cabot Trail:
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You’d be smart to plan an entire day, looping around this peninsula, visiting towns like Glace Bay and Louisbourg. But if you don’t have time for all of that, you should still make the scenic drive up Route 28 to Low Point Lighthouse, and enjoy a sunset or a sunrise — both would be great from this location.