Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Spiral Staircase on the Niagara Escarpment

You can wander the Bruce Trail in Spirit Rock Conservation Area and visit the abandoned ruins of an 1800's estate and take a spiral staircase that leads down to the waters of Colpoy's Bay in Georgian Bay from the heights of the Niagara Escarpment. Located at 92 Highway 6 north of Wiarton Ontario the 87-hectares park was once an estate owned by Alexander McNeill who was a Canadian Member of Parliament from 1881 till 1901.

Entering the Spirit Rock by a small gravel road, you come to a paid parking lot which costs $6 per day (2019) which you can pay by app, website or phone. There is a seasonal washroom (two-hole) on site and a large satellite map on site showing the trail and ruins, along with photos and a history of the grounds. They note that the 17-room mansion had the first electricity in the Bruce Peninsula. Later it was passed on and sold until it was left vacant in the 60's and vandalized. Finally in 1971 it was purchased by the Grey Sauble Conservation and fell to fire in 1976. 
The ruins of the Corran

Looking from the parking lot into the park, the ruins of a barn are almost straight ahead partially hidden by a growing forest and to the right side is the remaining walls and stairs of the Corran (which is Gaelic for land running into the sea), part of the McNeill Estate which was full of carvings, books and antiquities. The walls have been made safe and picnic tables are inside the careful ruins.
Inside the Corran
Some of the walls of the barn

If you keep following the trail which leads out in front of the Corran it will lead you to the top edge of the Niagara Escarpment which runs from Niagara Falls to Tobermory. Just minutes from the ruins you can find the red spiral staircase which you can use up to two people at a time. At the bottom you have to make a challenging hike down the steep slope at the base of the cliff, down to the waters which are part of the Great Lakes; Lake Huron. Be careful of poison ivy which is quite extensive in the area.

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