16 Jul

White Mountains, NH, USA, July 14-16 2012

We left Boston in a HUGE SUV we picked up from the car rental place. We'd gone far too large, thinking we'd need the room for our suitcases, but really, these full sized SUVs are enormous. It's like driving a tank, a water tank! So, rathe nervously we drove north on the I93, using Ann's Samsung Galaxy and the Sygic satnav app. It uses TomTom maps and I have to say it's really rather good.
The drive north from Massachusets to New Hampshire isn't terribly interesting, save in as much as getting used to the North American road system, until you start to enter the White Mountains around the Visitor’s Centre at Lincoln, where the Kancamagus Highway heads east to Conway or you can continue north through the Franconia Notch State Park and then loop off east via Twin Mountains and Mount Wshington, coming down to Jackson via Crawford Notch and Bartlett. We went over and round the top route, then down thru' Bartlett to Jackson and then up to our B&B at Carter Notch Road. On the final day we did the Kancamagus Highway loop and then up the I93 through Littleton and on the I91 to Canada. Our route is here.

On our way round we stopped at the Flume, a gorge of fast flowing water. Very pretty, not sure it was worth the 30 bucks to see it.


The area is breathtakingly beautiful, with huge mountains and peaks covered in a deciduous and evergreen mix, with beautiful boulder strewn rivers and clear lakes. The peaks are granite with sparkling deposits of mica, and the roads whilst wending and sometimes steep are wide and easy to cruise. We were there in summer and the roads were full of tourists, parties of bikers on Harley Davidsons, and the campsites were full of people camping.  We stayed with Sally and Dick at Carter Notch Inn in Jackson. They are ex pat Brits who run a truly welcoming and lovely B&B in the truly lovely and delightful township of Jackson. We couldn't recommend the place more highly, which is down to their attitude as much as the great place, weather, humming birds and chipmunks! [I even liked Dudley the Old English sheepdog and I am not a dog lover.]

Our main day in the area was spent taking the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, a railway that was mocked as the 'Railway to the Moon' when proposed, and yet running today 145 odd years after it started. It's impressive if a little scary, and the angle of ascent is quite disturbingly steep in places, but the cog and ratchet system keeps you safe. The top of the mountain, some 6288 feet high, is quite bleak and Arctic in feel. The views were rarher cloudy but I was impressed in that everwhere you look you see mountains, all but one named after US Presidents (hence the 'Presidential Range').

Cog Railway Loco Top of Mount Washington

The Auto Road, by which you can drive up the Mountain looked terrifying so I am pleased we took the train.. and that we then were able to stop off at the Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods, where the IMF was formed post war, and have a nice afternoon tea. Lovely scones and darjeeling!

Mount Washington Resort

On the final day we took the Kancamagus Highway, and it is definitely the most scenic of the routes we took, lower lying but with more interesting views and places to stop and overview the hills. We had lunch in a diner in Littleton, and then we were off north to visit the colonies, next stop Canada! [Of course technically the USA was also a colony, so in fact maybe this was the first 'colonial' part of our world trip..]

Now, who was named after this place, or is it the other way around?

Josiah Bartlett