Saturday, 7 August 2010
Hockley Valley: The Bruce Trail - East
We have left Toronto to stay for a few days at the Hockley Valley Resort, about an hour to the north west of the city. The main reason for being here was a - wonderful - big family party which took place last night. Today, after a memorable game of football (!), we thought we would take a walk along part of the Bruce Trail, which runs very close by.
We walked down to the road (the strangely named Mono Third Line East) and walked up a steep hill to find the point where the trail crosses the road and enters a forest. It turned out to be a maple forest - which seemed very appropriate - and we were immediately taken by the beauty of the tall slim trees with their pale green, slightly yellow leaves.
The plan had been to simply walk along the trail for a way and return, but after 20 minutes we came on a sign for the Peter Beacham side trail. This offered a loop to the right which would rejoin the main trail higher up. We could thus do a lasso walk rather than a there-and-back one.
We struck off to the right and the path immediately began to climb quite steeply, but the views of the forest from this elevated vantage point were wonderful.
After many more ups and downs, we joined a winding ravine beside a small stream, and began a long climb up it.
At the top there was a welcoming bench and a bit further on we came to our first stile. We joked, rather unkindly, that this massive industrial-strength construction must be designed for the heavier north American body type that we had seen in some profusion already in our trip.
Now we walked along a short section of road and regained the Bruce Trail. From here the route back to base was mainly downhill.
Distance: about 5 miles in all.
Conditions: warm (mid 20s), fresher and less humid than recent days.
Rating: three and a half stars.
These extraordinary fruits could be seen on a few of the young maples that we passed. They looked a bit like a model of a chemical molecule.
The Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail runs from Niagara to Tobermory, along the length of the Niagara escarpment, and is of over 800 km long. It is Canada's oldest and longest footpath and was the work of a small group of visionaries starting in 1960. It is now run by a charitable trust and maintained by a large group of volunteers.
The Peter Beacham side trail is described on the Bruce Trail website, albeit from a different starting point, and it turns out that it was named in commemoration of a scoutmaster who had inspired many of his charges with the joys of walking. A fine memorial.
We were lucky to find this walk. You just don't see footpath signs in Canada in the way we do at home, as evidently there is no concept of a public footpath. All land is privately owned and establishing paths like this requires a massive effort to negotiate access with the landowners. The Bruce Trail website has a section on "Trail Re-routes" and notes that the route of the trail is constantly changing. We found that a rather strange idea at first, but presumably when land changes hands access agreements sometimes lapse and new ones have to be negotiated.