Travel review: Ben Turner overcomes the silent treatment during a thrilling trip to Ontario, Canada
Ben Turner overcomes the silent treatment during a thrilling Canadian adventure
HAVING once attempted to watch a recording of Football Focus on my fiancee’s birthday I’m no stranger to the silent treatment.
But a few years on and 3,500 miles away, this time around the latest cold shoulder is not self-inflicted.
The public snub came as part of a superb trip to Ontario, Canada’s second-largest province which covers 415,000 square miles and 250,000 lakes.
For three nights our party were guests at the wonderful Killarney Mountain Lodge in Killarney – perfectly described by our hosts as “a wilderness Ontario resort on Canada’s northern Georgian Bay” – itself part of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes.
Also checked into the lodge – run for the last 50 years by Rock Ferry-born Maury East (I know, it’s a small world) and wife Annabelle – are a spiritual group on a “silent retreat”.
While being blanked in the corridors of the lodge – home to cosy pine panelled cabins and an eye-catching carousel long bar – takes a bit of getting used to, it soon becomes clear why people come here for an enjoyable escape.
A few footsteps out of my cabin and I start the day with a terrific view of Killarney Channel.
But it’s the raft of activities on your doorstep that are the real highlight of the resort.
Our Killarney adventure starts with a full day hike to Silver Peak, a trek to the highest point in the La Cloche mountain.
After a motorboat ride to Clearsilver Lake the work really begins.
Alongside my superfit and slightly Sergeant Major-like canoe ‘buddy’ Katie I paddle 1.5km to the base of Silver Peak.
With her cries of: “I said right, not left” still ringing in my ears, there is no let up as I spend the next few hours taking a 4km hike through rocky, muddy terrain and woods to the summit.
Covered in mud and sweating like Corrie’s Alan Bradley at a tram stop, a huge smile breaks out on my face.
As someone who uses his cross-trainer to hang shirts on, it’s partly due to a sense of achievement but largly due to the stunning views of Killarney Provincial Park.
The remaining two days in Killarney include a paddle on George Lake.
With nobody else in sight it feels like we have hired out the lake which affords yet more unforgettable scenery with its beautiful pink granite rocks and white quartzite that dots the hillsides.
A less strenuous day saw our group treated to an all-day sail on Georgian Bay which, in between sunbathing on the deck, included a short hike on one of the small islands collectively known as Fox Islands.
A contrasting but equally enjoyable experience had kicked off the adrenaline-filled vacation at Collingwood – a two-hour drive north from Toronto.
We are guests at the Westin Trillium House hotel, home to 222 luxury suites and high-class Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill restaurant at the base of the Blue Mountain resort.
The development is named after the region’s defining attraction, the Blue Mountain – a prominent section of the Niagara Escarpment, so called due to the unusually blue clay found around it.
And it is not long before we are seeing the stunning surroundings close at hand thanks to a visit to the nearby Scenic Caves adventure centre, undoubtedly the highlight of the trip.
Under the watchful eyes of our expert hosts, we walk over a 420-foot suspension bridge providing a jaw-dropping 10,000 square kilometre view of Collingwood and Georgian Bay.
In pairs, we walk, some faster than others, through treetops on Indiana Jones-style bridges which are just 10 inches wide. It ends in a thrilling 330 ft zip line back to base.
A new 1,000 ft Thunderbird TwinZip has since opened – and there’s also a labyrinth of caves.
Back at the hotel we take time out to explore the neighbouring Blue Mountain Village, with attractions ranging from shops and bars to an indoor water park.
A delicious selection of pizzas are also on offer – including gluten and wheat-free bases – at Firehall Pizza.
And fun village attractions range from mountain biking trails to the snaking Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster ride.
After a day playing the action hero, some well-earned pampering is offered at the nearby Scandinave Spa including dips into its hot and cold baths.
The following day Killarney awaits and we depart the hotel for Tobermory, a charming fishing village and ferry port with a selection of eateries and small shops.
The two-hour drive takes us through immaculately clean towns dotted with colourful houses along the Georgian Bay Coastal Route.
At Tobermory we take a two-hour ferry to South Baymouth before a three-hour drive observing bears and foxes along the windy roads to Killarney.
The Canada trip was a amazing experience.
And putting the silent treatment aside, Ontario clearly has a lot to shout about.
Ontario travel tips
BEN TURNER was the guest of Ontario Tourism.
He flew with Canadian Affair which offers flights from Manchester non-stop to Toronto from £378 return based on travel in September 2012.
Stays at the Killarney Mountain Lodge start from £230 per room per night, and the Westin Blue Mountain from £121 per night.
For information and reservations, call 020 7616 9184 or visit www.canadianaffair.com
For more information on Ontario visit www.travelontario.co.uk.
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