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Inn at Cape Cod

Posts Tagged ‘Wellfleet’

Wellfleet Cape Cod, overlooked by tourists heading to Ptown

July 30th, 2013 by Mike Cassels

Wellfleet, a cape cod day tripWellfleet is just 40 minutes from our Inn and is indeed a part of the Cape that the average visitor has heard little about. The “must see” places are consistently Provincetown and Marthas Vineyard. If our guests have heard of anywhere, it will more often than not be these two destinations. Some people will tell you as they check in early evening, that they have just “done Provincetown”. We invariably ask them what they saw on the way up or back. “Why? Is there much to see?” they continue. Anyone who knows Cape Cod or lives here will be able to rattle off a list of places, and not just The National Seashore.

Charming and beautiful, Wellfleet is my favorite place on The Cape. Yes, the unthinkable, I prefer it to Chatham! It has all the ingredients I need for a memorable day trip, a wealth of diversity in the things to do and see. Wellfleet stands in its own right as an exceptional destination – it is not just a place to stop at en route to Ptown.

So what is so compelling about this New England village. Where do I start. Well seeing that we are in the midst of the beach season, Mayo Beach, a ten minute walk from the gorgeous village, is simply stunning. Having lived for many years near The Med and explored the coastline from Malaga in southern Spain to Reggio di Calabria on Italy’s toe, our feel for Mayo is that it reminds us of  a good Mediterranean beach – the clear blue water gently lapping the shore is also a factor. It is a long beach, good for a jog or a stroll to work up an appetite. Talking of which, you can have lunch on the upper deck of The Bookstore Restaurant, and see for yourself why this unpretentious café with stunning vistas across the beach and the bay beyond, has such a formidable reputation for great, affordable and fresh seafood. Try the lobster roll or perhaps fried clams. The famous Wellfleet oyster beds are barely 100 yards away and oysters are freshly shucked minutes before you are sampling them.

We always take a look at some of the many art exhibitions in Wellfleet. Believe it or not, this little spot has more art galleries than anywhere else on Cape Cod. Then we just have time to find an ice cream before setting off to walk the Great Island Trail, a half mile west of the village. Now this trail is not to be missed and it is worth the effort to get out to Jeremy Point. You can stop and relax on one of the beaches and take care not to step on Fiddler Crabs.

Still on the Bay, if you come south a little on Route 6, you will find Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. There are trails to follow, the heath land , barrier beach, salt marsh and woodland supports a wide variety of wildlife including song and shore birds. The nature centre has been ecologically designed and is a good example of modern green architecture. This is a beautiful adventure.wellfleet cape cod

No day trip to Wellfleet is complete without a visit to Marconi Beach on the eastern coastline known as The National Seashore. There you canrest a while on the cliff top and wonder at the enormous horizon, see a seal or two and maybe a whale or shark. Fix your eye upon a mark approximately 500 yards out into open water. This is where the Pirate ship, The Whydah, sank with 143 hands in 1717. Captain Black Sam Bellamy, who had captured the former slave galley from the British, also perished. He was on the way to Provincetown to see his wench, or so the story goes. Anyway, that was not the last that was heard of The Whidah. 267 years later in 1984, the wreck of The Whydah was found in just 14 feet of water and beneath 5 feet of sand, and yes just 500 yards from the beach. This remains the largest haul of treasure ever discovered in US coastal waters, 4.7 tons of gold and silver amongst priceless artifacts.

Well that has been a hugely enjoyable day and we have quite an appetite. Where better to stop for great food and a bistro like ambience, than PB Boulangerie, which is also in Wellfleet, and this will be a perfect end to our day. Not quite. Exclusively for our guests  when they return to the Inn, are the candle-lit areas outside, including the front veranda between the soaring columns of this magnificent building. Here they can relax on balmy summer evenings over a night cap, reflect upon the day’s discoveries and plan tomorrow’s adventures. See you in the morning at breakfast.



A Cape Cod Lighthouse Extravaganza

March 11th, 2010 by cassels

little lighthouse During the last 300 years there have been 3,000 or more shipwrecks in Cape Cod’s waters, the majority of which were between Chatham and Provincetown. The advent of lighthouses, some twenty or so on Cape Cod’s shoreline in the last 200 years, went a long way to safely guide vessels through these treacherous waters. Seven lighthouses still operate, while several others, now decommissioned, can also be found. The 1914 opening of the Cape Cod Canal was also a significant factor in the decline of the number of shipwrecks.

Here are nine of the most well known lighthouses to choose from to go and see, or indeed you could plan a day out to see all of these. Be warned that there is a lot of healthy exercise involved, so you may decide to target half this number.

Start perhaps with the most northerly, which is Race Point Light, you’ll need a stout pair of sneakers as you have to leave your car and walk the last 2 miles along the beach. The lighthouse was first erected in 1816. Nevertheless more than 100 ships were wrecked in this area between then and 1949. You can stay overnight at this one, but you will need to make a reservation well in advance.

There are two other” twin lights” around Provincetown, Wood End erected in 1873 and Long Point 1823, both guarding the entrance to the harbour. The former is now solar powered. Both are a walk along the breakwater, there is a summer boat service to Long Point from MacMillan Wharf.

Back on Route 6 again travelling south a matter of minutes, turn onto Highland Road and follow this to the end , then right onto Lighthouse Road. Highland was the first lighthouse to be built on Cape Cod in 1798, but the present lighthouse was erected in 1857 and moved inland in1996.

Probably by now you are feeling like a bite to eat after such an energetic morning – I did warn you – but you can relax now with a beautiful view over Wellfleet Bay while you tuck into a dozen oysters freshly gathered from those famous oyster beds 200 yards from your table. The Bookstore Restaurant is well known by locals and regular visitors to the Cape for its seafood and magnificent view. So it’s here that you can contemplate the adventures of the afternoon and soak up that New England feeling of tranquility. After lunch, allow yourself some time to visit the many art galleries in charming little Wellfleet village – you can almost at will switch back and forth from serene calm one moment to yet another discovery the next; this is one reason that I believe makes Cape Cod such a great tourist destination.

If you can face another five lighthouses, Route 6 will take you onto Eastham’s Nauset Light, whose original structure was built in 1838. The current tower was moved to here from Chatham in 1923. From the parking lot you can take a short walk along Cable Road to the Three Sisters, towers that were constructed in 1892 and replaced in 1923 by the current Nauset Light.

Our remaining three lighthouses are all in Chatham at the end of the scenic part of Route 28 which hugs the coastline between Orleans and Chatham. There are some spectacular views along the way. Chatham Light is on Shore Road at the end of Main Street and was built in 1877, however the first structure pre-dated this by 69 years. There are tours available inside the lighthouse during the summer months.

The Monomoy Point Light is only accessible by boat. The original tower, built in 1823, was rebuilt in 1849 and finally decommissioned in 1923 before it became part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Overnight stays are available at the lighthouse keeper’s house.

The last of our nine, if you are still in the hunt that is, is Stage Harbor Light, which requires a mile walk along the beach from the Harding Beach parking lot. This was the last lighthouse to be built on the Cape and was closed in 1933 to later become a private residence.

Well it has been another day on the Cape to remember, but it has not quite finished yet. There is maybe time to see the sun go down at a wonderful restaurant with a view ( believe it or not there are not very many ). The Ocean House, yes that’s the one that your ever attentive innkeeper made you a reservation for the previous day – you sure won’t get a table without one  – and it will make the evening one to remember.

We always appreciate feedback from our guests during breakfast , on their previous day’s exploits, when we continue to help them with their plans. There is a good amount of information on our website to help visitors understand the enormity of what there is to do and see on Cape Cod, before they arrive. Sometimes we put together daily itineraries for our guests’ entire stay – and nothing gives us more pleasure!