Loren Christie on great walking tours
Published Friday, August 24, 2012 10:08AM EDT
Wales has the distinct honour of being the first country in the world to have a continual coastal path. You can walk from one end of the country to the other, from Chepstow to Chester, taking in the magnificent scenery and sights.
When I visited Wales last Spring, I sadly did not have the time to walk too much. But I did drive to some of the Path’s highlights, including my favourite -- the stunning St. Govan’s Chapel.
The Wales Coast Path includes 70 sweeping beaches, 15 picturesque ports and innumerable secret coves. Whether you are an avid walker or up for a new adventure, visitors of all walking abilities should explore the Wales Coast Path.
If you can’t make it overseas this fall for a stroll there are a lot of amazing options around Canada.
Newfoundland is a great province for hiking, with trails around every corner. Even just out of St. John’s, the walk up to Signal Hill is wonderful. It’s quite a treasure and is within the city limits.
A few minutes from downtown Halifax, Sir Sanford Fleming Park is home to the Memorial Tower (also known as The Dingle Tower) -- which recently celebrated its hundredth anniversary.The park, named after the “Father of Standard Time,” Sir Sandford Fleming, was once the site of Fleming’s summer home and has long been a great outdoor destination.
Features of the park include 4.5 kilometres of trail that leads walkers past stunning views of Halifax’s Northwest Arm, The Frog Pond – a great place for feeding the ducks, a public beach and playground, perfect picnic spots and a boat launch. In celebration of the anniversary, an interactive public art project, entitled Meantime in Greenwich, has been installed and will be on view until September, 2013. The project encourages visitors to find twenty-four sundials throughout the park, each one linked to a 3D virtual sculpture and unique story accessible through a free iPhone app.
New Brunswick’s Fundy Bay area offers a whole range of hiking options from The Fundy Trail Parkway, which contains a number of guided two and four-hour walks, educational walks, as well as a multitude of trails for people of a wide range of hiking skills, to The Fundy Footpath. It is a challenging wilderness trail that covers the area between the suspension bridge at Big Salmon River on the Fundy Trail, and hugs the coastline to the boundaries of Fundy National Park. It is a forty-one kilometre wilderness hike that takes four days and three nights, provided you time the tides correctly at certain crossing points.
It also has several challenging sections that lead up and down from an elevation of zero to 300 metres across a dozen ravines.
Quebec’s Gatineau Park stretches over 361 square kilometres of hills and forests. A network of scenic parkways allows you to discover a wide area of the park in a short period of time
For urbanites visiting La Belle Province, Quebec City’s Promenade Samuel-De Champlain stretches nearly 2.5 kilometres on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. A gift from the provincial government to Québec City for its four-hundredth anniversary, the newly landscaped park affords those travelling on foot, by bicycle or by car a new viewpoint from which to admire the shoreline.
Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park offers the amazing DinoSafari, a guided walk through one of the most fossil rich areas of the country stopping at two triceratops radius fossils in the Rock Creek Badlands area of the park.Guides will help you find fossils in the badlands area and teach you how to know the difference between a rock and an actual fossil.
Victoria, British Columbia is often called Canada’s Most Walkable City by Foot. Victoria offers residents and visitors alike easy access to a plethora of scenic walking trails, including the Scenic Marine Drive, which follows the Pacific Ocean around the southern coast of the city and is only blocks from Victoria’s downtown core, Beacon Hill Park, and the West Song Walkway –a paved pathway that lines Victoria’s Inner Harbour from downtown Victoria to West Bay Marina.
Nearby Victoria, the ten kilometre Coastal Trail Hike at East Sooke Park is considered one of Canada's premiere day hikes. This exceptional trail features windswept pine, towering grand fir, giant cedar and the bark-shedding arbutus trees. There is also a chance to view ancient petro-glyphs etched into the rocks by the area’s native peoples of the past. The trail winds along the rugged coast and allows for breathtaking views overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. From mid-September to late October, several species of vultures and hawks, along with bald eagles, gather in East Sooke Park and use it as a staging area before crossing the Juan de Fuca Straight.