Elgin Group – Brian Wilsdon, Jim Northey, Tom Beharrell and Dave Kirkpatrick

The Elgin group of 4 with 2 friends

Brian, from St. Thomas, walked the entire 113 km trail in 2017 with three friends – Jim from Alymer, Tom from Frome and Dave from London. The following are excerpts from a letter Brian sent to the Avon Trail president.

“It is with gratitude that I write to the Avon Trail keepers to submit information for four End-to-End badges. We completed the Avon Trail in a series of eight hiking treks from September 9, 2017 to December 28, 2017. Our end-to-end seemed to take place over three seasons, beginning with beautiful summer conditions through the late turning of leaves in the Fall, to a foot of winter snow on December 28.

We decided to do the Avon when we learned that Dave Kirkpatrick, an active hiker with the Elgin Hiking Trail Club, had never done it. Dave had just completed the Bruce Trail for the second time and we had done the Grand Valley Trail with him 5 years ago. We also learned that 90-year old Don Holmes had completed an end-to-end of the Avon Trail and he had rave reviews of the trail. It had been over a decade since I had completed the Avon.

The enormous variety of scenery was very stimulating. The variety of trees, vegetation and farmland provided the most interesting trek through the country. We could have done it with no trail guide because it was so well blazed. So the four of us, and friends who joined us for part of the Avon End-to-End, thoroughly enjoyed the hikes and the Avon experience.”

Well done to the four of you!

Brian submitted the following diary notes for each of the 8 hikes.

September 9: 0-13.7 km (13.7 km)
Spectacular walk through St. Mary’s, the stone city. Beautiful sunny day for a walk on country road. Three of eight hikers stung as we entered field line at kilometer 7. Enjoyed picnic lunch at picnic table overlooking base of Wildwood dam. Wildwood trail very picturesque although we could not see the lake because of the leaves.

September 16: 13.7–27.1 km (13.4 km)
Beautiful trail. Great variety of vegetation, including the tall grass prairie. Finally saw Wildwood Lake. Some steep hills just before emerging at Perth Oxford Line.

September 30: 27.1–41.9 km (14.8 km)
Many stiles provide good exercise. Bimini side trail short trek though pine and deciduous forests. The east side of Trout Creek to Line 20 was a very picturesque kilometer.

October 7: 41.9–57.6 km (14.8 km)
Very interesting old stone barn foundation ruins on Lome Ave E near trail. Forest Road in Stratford very scenic homes and trees. Got 10 minutes of rain there – cooled us down. Mostly off-road variety of farms including sheep.

October 14: 98.5 – 111 km (12.5 km)
Saw the ticket office to the St. Jacobs-Waterloo RR. I will someday take that ride to enjoy a steam ride by Engine #9, restored in St. Thomas. Bridge out at Conestoga – muddy ride and walk over the Grand River. Intriguing large wood carving on route.

November 4: 56.7 – 72 km (15.3 km)
Mostly off road. Re-route took us back through hamlet of Amulree. Lunch in small cabin by maple syrup farm. Couple of large trees down east of Wilmott Rd.

November 18: 72 – 84.8 km (12.8 km)
Actually, longer than 12.8 km with new route along east side of Nith River – picturesque. Very scenic road work.

December 28:  84.8 – 98.5 km (12.5 km)
Had to take roads as alternative. Still scenic. Plan to re-hike in the Spring. Enjoyed seeing cross country skiing, horseback riding and snowmobile trails. Steep hills.

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