Writer Lynn Houghton flies through the Canadian forests on a zip wire, discovering the joys of rural Ontario for families
West Bay, M'Chigeeng reserve, Manitoulin
So, most of us know that Ontario is famous for its landscapes, from the Niagara Falls Escarpment to Manitoulin Island, and right up to the Hudson Bay. Perhaps not as famous, but equally lovely are Ontario’s rural communities, many of which are clustered around the southern end of Georgian Bay. Grey County, in particular, is well known for its apple farms through-out the county and particularly in the Beaver Valley. It is a special place to visit during the harvest season and autumn when the colours change but is equally picturesque in the spring and summer.
Blue Mountain Resort treetop experience
We stayed in the Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood located in Grey County – very close to the bay. Both the Blue Mountain Inn and the Westin Trillium House Hotel share a ‘village’ that is newly built and full of shops and restaurants with playgrounds to boot.
Many of this village’s eateries are perched on an enormous, picturesque pond with folks enjoying kayaks and pedalos on the water particularly when the weather is fair. And there is an outdoor concert venue where artists entertain during the summer months.
After an evening meal at the Copper Blue, an exceptionally good family restaurant, we had a relaxing stroll around the property. Families were enjoying riding up in the resort’s gondolas to the mountain top and there was zip-lining and bike riding on offer in this centre as well.
Zipping at scenic caves
However, it was the three hour long Tree Tops Experience at Collingwood’s Scenic Caves that took our breath away. A huge section of the Scenic Caves property is an incredibly diverse UNESCO Biosphere. A 420ft. suspension bridge spans the valley floor across this protected Biosphere and, as the flora and fauna are protected, the construction of the bridge was done without any equipment or person touching the ground below it. An engineering marvel!
After scurrying across the bridge, we were taken by tractor (yes, a tractor!) to a section of the forest where rows and rows of connected planks are suspended between 16 different oak trees. This set up allows guests to walk up in the forest canopy, with each person attached to cables strung above the planks for safety. I almost felt suspended in air!
Everyone clambered up the first tree by way of a sturdy ladder and off we went. I was sometimes as high as 55ft. off the ground and, when we came to the last tree, each individual went wooshing down a zip-wire at top speed to the ground below. There was a bit of moderate hiking through a whole complex of caverns where we learned about the first inhabitants of this area before zip-lining, yet again. This time each of us went zooming back to the log cabin office where our adventure had started. A special experience.
We travelled further north beyond Manitoulin Island to Greater Sudbury. Be sure to have your picture taken next to the world’s biggest Nickel based at the Dynamic Earth Museum if you are passing by. There is a great museum for kids here called Science North. It is about a 15 minute drive from the Dynamic Earth complex and the Big Nickel. The IMAX THEATRE and Planetarium were fantastic and there are many exhibits to enjoy.
Taking some well-earned time out
Visiting in May 2016, costs from £550.00 per person for 7 nights at the Blue Mountain Inn in one room for two adults and two children including return flights to from London Gatwick direct with Air Canada and car hire.
Visiting in May 2016, costs from £560.00 per person for 2 nights in Toronto at the Courtyard by Marriott downtown, 5 nights at the Blue Mountain Inn in one room for two adults and two children including return flights to Toronto from London Gatwick direct with Air Canada and car hire.
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