It's one of Newfoundland's most scenic beaches — and a bridge on the only road to it is due to be removed

·3 min read
The sandy beach on Ship Cove extends out to the sea stack jutting from the ocean’s floor in Bay St. George South. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)
The sandy beach on Ship Cove extends out to the sea stack jutting from the ocean’s floor in Bay St. George South. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)
Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

It may not see the tourists and traffic it did in previous decades, but if you ask residents of Bay St. George South, they'll tell you Ship Cove Beach is one of Newfoundland and Labrador's hidden gems.

After a short drive on an access road just southwest of Highlands, on Newfoundland's southwest coast, the beach sits in quiet splendour, overlooked by the two sea stacks on its shore and relatively untouched by travellers.

Now access to the beach is being threatened as a bridge on the service road is slated for removal this summer by the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture.

"It's just something that shouldn't be cut off from so many people, not just the community, but tourists, the province and people outside the province," said Highlands resident Julia Roberts.

"It gives us access to some of the most natural beauty in the province. This beach alone, the Cormack Trail, we've hunting and fishing areas up here that are pristine and untouched but are still visited by hundreds of people every year."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

As the province gets ready to welcome visitors for its Come Home Year celebrations, Roberts says the opposite message is being sent to the people of her area.

"We've invested so much energy and health and love into bringing home the people that belong here and the people who don't belong to just enjoy it. And now we can't let them have this. It's part of what they're going to miss."

Years ago, the Ship Cove beach had a campground overlooking its massive banks, a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. It also connected hikers to the Codroy Valley to the south via the Cormack Trail.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

While the campground is gone and trail upkeep not what it used to be, the popularity of the beach saw a surge in recent years when pictures were used in tourism brochures promoting the scenic beauty of the area.

Fintan Gillis grew up in the area and remembers visiting the beach for most of his life. He said it was always a place for family outings, something the bridge removal will threaten.

"I've been coming to this beach since I was probably seven years old. When we were youngsters running around in the little brooks, we always hiked up here. We were gone all day," he said.

"The importance of the bridge right now is the access to get here. Because it is a fairly long walk from the end of the road if the bridge is gone and that will deter people from coming up and enjoying it,"

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

The Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture Department would not do an interview on the status of the bridge.

In a statement, it said an inspection was completed on the bridge and it was determined to be a safety risk due to deterioration. It also said the department recognizes "these roads are often used to provide access to seasonal cottages and recreational opportunities."

It said closure and removal of bridges such as the one near Highlands is a regular part of operations.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting