Sunday, September 27, 2009
Beaver Valley Wanderings
On Friday Hilary and I drove up to Beaver Valley. North-east of Markdale, home of the Chapman ice-cream people. Due south from Thornbury. Quaint little harbour town on Georgian Bay complete with Fish-ladder project to help migrating Chinook salmon and rainbow trout. Centred on Kimberley, skiers' holiday spot beside the Talisman resort.
I remember years ago taking the family in our old and lumbering Pontiac to Kimberley. Seeing the shockingly vertical service road beside Talisman. Hearing Hilary say, "Let's drive up there and get a good view of the valley from the top".
Poor old Pontiac almost didn't make it in whatever gear. Once begun, we couldn't stop, couldn't turn around. At the overlook, after fresh water for the radiator, we had a spectacular view. Thereafter on this high westerly side we drove past cattle pastures and beautiful chalets to Markdale.
On Friday we had some doubts about weather, but skies cleared as we headed north through Fergus, home of the famed August Scottish Highland Games. The gray rock in many of the Wellington County homes reminds one of the Highlands. Along Highway Six through Arthur, Mount Forest and Durham. Stopped for picnic lunch at grounds by the Rocky Saugeen River. We were surprised at the number of highway improvement projects en route. New surfacing. New guardrail and posts and crash barriers. Cox Construction out of Guelph. Miller Maintenance Limited. Both customers of my employer. It was as if Hilary were accompanying me on a work day-trip to job sites.
Once into the valley we immediately got the impression of big skies, ski getaways, apple orchards, secluded artist's studios and a long breath of fresh, unhurried air. Lush stands of Carolinian bush often closed in on the road. Hawks and crows in large supply. Periodically long, ribbon-like, rolling views of the route. And then the descent to the River and the shopping and B and B delights of Kimberley.
County Road 13 is a playground with happy options in any direction. Beautiful observation points for photo work. Eugenia Falls to the south. Thornbury, as abovementioned, to the north. Carolinian forests, apple orchards and Bruce Trail to the east around Ravenne. It is our kind of "fair ride". A routine set in. I would hop out of the car with ready camera. Hilary would pick up her novel for another half-chapter. Tourist literature was secured at the Thornbury municipal office. (pleasant people). This gave us some additional options.
At the south end of the valley we visited Eugenia Falls, discovered in 1852 by a wandering farmer. You look a WAAAY down there from the walled observation path. Beautiful stands of cedar everywhere. Then came Hogg's Falls near Flesherton and a brief hike on rocky, rolling flagged paths to the site - a thirty-two foot drop in the stream. Sort of a "courier du bois", portage feel about it all.
Then west and south toward Shelburne, home of the spring Fiddle Festival. Approaching we saw acres with no less than 36 huge power generating windmills, all white and dancing, like a happy Holland scene.
Chinese dinner at Orangeville at a place "I tought I would remember by sight". Nope. And the loop trip completed through Fergus, Elora (with its own beautiful gorge on the Grand River) and Waterloo County.
This was one beautiful, unstructured, relaxed, low traffic volume day-trip. Think about it for yourselves. Much of autumn remains.