Welcome to the Country Life
Join us as Tourists in our own backyard
A year ago, we moved from the busy metropolis ( 😉 ) of Guelph to the quiet country life on 50 acres in Stirling-Rawdon Township (just north of Belleville). Our new place needed a TON of work, so we didn’t get a chance to check out much of the new area. Then it was winter. Then a pandemic. As things have carefully begun to open up, I have had the chance to venture out and explore our new backyard in the absence of our usual travel plans.
Now that we are embracing country life, our backyard covers a lot of land. Small communities like Marmora, Madoc, Campbellford, Warkworth, Hastings County, and Trent Hills are all a short drive from Bedlam Acres.
One of my favourite things to do when we travel is check out local breweries – so step one of learning the new area was to sample the local beer.
Church Key Brewing in Campbellford is one of the longer-standing craft breweries. Located in (you guessed it!) an old Church, it offers a small interior where you can sit and have a pint. You can enjoy your beer outside in their charming gazebo or on one of their Adirondack chairs in warmer weather. Their beer is perhaps not the most adventurous, with no sours or flavours that seem to be trending, but their flagship Northumberland Ale is a regular go-to for me at the brewery, local restaurants, or in my own fridge.
7/62 Brewing in Madoc is a newly opened brewery. Without the benefit of omniscient foresight, they opened mere months before the pandemic’s start. However, they have persevered, adjusted their offerings to include a lovely patio, and expanded their menu to provide some delightful snacks. We have wiled away many a Sunday afternoon enjoying their Best Bitter, now accompanied by a plate of local cheeses.
Kings Mill Cider is as local as it gets, about a 10-minute drive from the farm. They grow their own apples to make their delightful range of fizzy and flat ciders in various locally sourced flavours. They recently added samosas and pizza to their menu, and we now regularly enjoy sitting on their patio or a picnic table and enjoying great food and fantastic cider.
The Great Outdoors
We moved to the country to get more space (mainly for the dogs), and we couldn’t have ended up in a better region. Essentially living in “cottage country” we are surrounded by lakes, waterfalls, and trails. The true beauty of country life is having everything right in our backyard.
The Eastern Ontario trail system boasts 100s of kilometres of groomed trails, primarily used by ATVs/snowmobiles; I have found almost everyone to be welcoming and cautious as they go by me on my bike, being pulled by Dalmatians. Perhaps the general spectacle we make helps!
Callaghan’s Rapids quickly became one of my favourite places on earth. The gorgeous rapids framed by dense forest lead up to an old rail bridge that is now a bike path – outstanding. Seeing this in the fall is genuinely majestic.
The Local Fare
A short drive to Warkworth will get you to a genuinely top-notch bakery. Like many small businesses, the Bakery Warkworth has struggled through the pandemic. Thanks to crowd-funding from the community, they have kept their doors open and have pivoted to include oven-fired pizzas.
Springbrook Diner, just up the road from our farm, is a regular staple for simple but good food. Run by people who genuinely care about the community, we joined them for their Christmas dinner (having no family nearby), and our hearts were warmed when we went to pay and learned it was “donation only”.
Caper’s Tap House, in Campbellford, is definitely on our list for local restaurants/pubs. Their continually changing menu features many local foods and inventive and creative dishes. A wide range of beer on tap, including multiple local options, tops off the offering for what is always a delightful visit.
Ontario Water Buffalo, in Stirling, offers various water buffalo products, from smoked brisket to buffalo cheese to soap to some of the GREATEST gelatos I have ever enjoyed! You can get up close and personal with the very chill water buffalo (other than when I came when someone had left a gate open – seeing a water buffalo stampede first-hand was quite the experience!).
Stirling offers a small but delightful farmer’s market every Friday afternoon. Seeing the community supporting small businesses and local farmers is great fun. It doesn’t take long to make the rounds of all the stalls, but it is certainly worth the trip. This is a regular part of our country life, now, and we love it.
Check out our article on Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc.
If you are in the area, these attractions are worth a stop!
A short walk will get you to a lookout above the truly impressive quarry left over after years of mining. The water is an idyllic blue, the scenery is gorgeous, and the history is fascinating.
I will literally never pass up an opportunity to see the “world’s largest” or “giant” anything. This has led to some interesting side-routes with occasional disappointment. This toonie does NOT disappoint! It is huge 😊 , and the park it is in is lovely, and definitely worth the stop.
This awe-inspiring suspension bridge might not appeal to those who are afraid of heights, but it is solid, safe, and amazing! It leads into the Ranney Conservation area, a beautiful park with some great trails for walking or biking. SUPER windy and chilly in the offseason, but totally worth stopping.
Although not quite rivalling Callaghan’s Rapids for my favourite place, Crowe Lake is a close second! A gorgeous lake with great access for canoeing/kayaking, I highly recommend building this into your trip!
For more tips on travelling with your pet, click here.
A bit further out is the absolute food and drink mecca of Prince Edward County, featured in my next backyard tourist piece!
Follow the adventures of the Well-travelled Dalmatians of Bedlam Acres
Follow Heather & Brad’s country life adventures in Hastings County at @Bedlam.acres