Submitted by Susan Doucette
How the journey began.
2021 marked our 15th wedding anniversary. As we were travelling across Canada my husband Bob, told me that he would like to go back to PEI and cycle all around the Island. When he first mentioned this I thought he was a bit crazy because we know that the roads on the Island are not at all flat! I said that I would think about it and let him know.
I need to tell you that the reason for his request was because on our honeymoon, 15 years ago we cycled the Confederation Trail from Tignish to Elmira. At that time we were using our regular bikes and stayed mainly on the Confederation Trail. The only part that took us off the trail was going to Cavendish and that is how we discovered that the roads on the Island are far from being flat. There are hills on the island and they are steep especially when you are cycling.
After Bob’s request I started looking online at some Island websites. I was very surprised when I came upon “The Island Walk”. We both started looking closely at what it was all about. At first we did not realize that the Walk had just opened recently and that not very many people knew about it. I visited the website and sent a few emails. When we asked for information through the website we were told that a few people had already completed the walk by walking and a group had completed it by cycling. At this time of our quest we were in New Brunswick visiting my sister and brother-in-law. I decided to start looking for accommodations. The people I contacted through the website, that had completed the trail on their bikes had not stayed in hotels or inns because they were camping. We did not have camping equipment and were not prepared to camp so we had to look for different types of accommodations.
So the journey began at that point. All I had to work with was The Island Walk Map and the waypoints on the map. I tried to find places to stay at every 4th waypoint. We had planned to completed the Walk with our E-bikes in 9 days.
When we arrived on the Island we went to the Information Centre in Downtown Charlottetown and got a Confederation trail Map as well as The Island Walk map. The staff at the information centre did not have very much information about the walk so we decided to go ahead and try it anyways.
Here is our journey
September 20, 2021
Left Charlottetown from our friends home and connected to the confederation trail. We had all our gear with us and most importantly the battery chargers for our Rad E-Bikes. It was a beautiful September morning as we headed out towards our first stop around waypoint #4. We cycled 40 kms before we stopped for a well needed breakfast/brunch in Victoria at the Casa Mia by the Sea – Salt Water Grill. The food was delicious and the area by the water spectacular. This part of the trail was mostly on the road. There was not a lot of traffic so that made us feel good. So remember I mentioned that we only had the Island walk map to use to book our accommodations. It turned out that today our B&B was a lot further than we thought. We were looking for the B&B sign on the road and when we saw it we realized that we had to cycle another 8 kms to get to the place this was after we had already clocked in 70kms. When we were on the side road our host Carrie, drove by us and stopped to tell us that she was going to vote ( Federal Election Day!!) and told us how to get to her place. So the one thing that we had not anticipated was not having a place to have dinner. Carrie helped us out tremendously in that department. She went to the store and bought us some PEI Pasty’s and a nice bottle of wine. We had a well deserved shower and a great meal on the deck. The Briarcliffe Inn is in a farm setting so we had the pleasure of watching the huge pigs around the yard. It was quite a funny site! Had a wonderful sleep in a very comfortable bed. (today was 78 KMS total)
September 21, 2021
Set out early this morning after a fabulous breakfast including BACON! Most of the ride today is on the Confederation Trail which is nice. Our morning stop today was a small coffee shop in Richmond. We asked the staff if we could charge our batteries and had a nice rest and coffee while waiting. Kept going on the Confederation Trail until O’Leary. I have to mention that all along our route we kept looking for our little waypoint sign. Sometimes we were really happy to see the sign. We named him the “little man” and tried to take a picture every time he had a number beside him. We had lots of fun doing this. We made it to Vinny’s Restaurant in O’Leary shortly after noon and plugged our batteries to charge again. Turns out we are cycling a very long road today and needed to make sure we didn’t run out. We ordered hamburgers and fries and wow were we impressed. They were the best home made hamburgers we had every tasted. It was s fun time eating outside on the picnic table, playing a couple of games of cards and enjoying the food as well as watching people go by. We were close to a grocery store so we stocked up on a few snacks and wine. So by the time we left O’Leary it was late afternoon and we still had quite a ways to go. To give you a bit of history as to why I picked the next place to sleep. My last name is Doucette and my father grew up on PEI. I still have cousins here that I have met and some that I haven’t met. When I came upon the name “Doucette’s By The Beach” I had to reserve a place there no matter where it was. It turned out that is is right beside the Island Walk trail. We arrived after dinner just in time to sit with a glass of wine on the beach and enjoy the sunset. There was no place for dinner or breakfast because this was a cottage and not a B&B. It was ok because we were not hungry and had a few snacks to tied us over.
September 22, 2021
Set out very early today back on the road. My oh my was it ever windy today. We were so very thankful that we had eBikes and that the first few kms the wind was at our backs. We followed the “little Man” signs to North Cape. It was amazingly windy but I think one of the most scenic parts of our trip. We watched the sea lions and seals from the shore. We were getting hungry by the time we reached the information centre but unfortunately the restaurant was closed for the season. We rode on to Tignish and stopped for a bit to re-visit the Heritage Inn. That was where we had started our journey 15 years ago on our honeymoon. Our next stop was at the Mill River Resort. It was again quite a ways from the trail. Had a nice shower, dip in the pool and dinner. Slept very well that night.
September 23, 2021
Had a great breakfast at the resort and off we went again. Mostly on the Confederation Trail today. Stopped in Summerside for lunch. Today we lost the trail for a bit and ended on a very wet muddy section. Our bikes were full of red PEI mud and needed to be cleaned in order for us to move on. We did not want the mud to dry and stick on even worst. We had some great lobster rolls for lunch at the JMK Fishmart. After lunch Bob took our bikes to find a place to wash them and I waited by the water for him. Our batteries were safe inside the store charging. We were in Summerside for 3 hours. It was our longest lunch break of the week. Left Summerside via the Confederation trail towards Kingston. When we arrived in Kingston it was like “Deja Vue”. 15 years ago on our regular bikes we remembered that we had to get on the road towards Cavendish. The same thing happened today. We followed the road again to get to our reserved place at the Inn on the Pier in Stanley Bridge. It was a long way to get there. We had arranged for our friends to meet us there for dinner. When we finally arrived we saw that the restaurant was closed. It was a good thing that our friends had a car to take us to another restaurant to eat. We were the most tired after our long day. It was good to finally hit the sack!
September 24, 2021
Left the INN early this morning towards North Rustico. It was a very pleasant ride today on the wonderful bike trails along Brackley Beach. The weather was perfect, not too cold and not too windy. I have to mention that so far we have been very fortunate with the weather. Our friend told us that the best place for fish and chips on the island was at RICHARD’S in Covehead Bay. When we left this morning we were not sure where that was but fortunately there is was right on our trail. We arrived early and the restaurant was not yet opened. We decided to take a walk on the beach and I took the opportunity to have a quick dip in the ice cold Atlantic Ocean. It reminded me of my childhood growing up in Northern Quebec and swimming in the Saint Lawrence River where it meets the ocean! My friend was so right in saying they were the best fish and chips because wow they sure were. It was so worth the wait. Got back on the road after a long break and rode onto Cable Head Suites in St Peters. Again all the restaurants close by were closed so no place to have dinner. I had bought a nice salad at lunch so we had that for dinner plus a few vegetables that our hosts Doug and Elizabeth provided for us. We had a great place to rest and an early night to bed.
September 25, 2021
Elizabeth brought us eggs and toast for breakfast this morning. We set out for another day of cycling to Souris. Again this was mostly on the Confederation Trail. Today was cloudy and very windy. We arrived in Souris and stayed at the Shanty Stay Cabins. These were so cute when I saw them on the website that I had to reserve them for our stay. The cabin was one room and everything in the cabin was made out of wood, even the sink. The recommended restaurant was full so we were unable to make reservations. We went to The Lobster Shack by the beach and ordered take out lobster. It was so windy that day and we enjoyed watching the kite surfers for awhile waiting for our dinner. We had take out lobster in our cabin using the small fridge as a table and enjoyed every minute of it. So fun to experience different things in life.
September 26, 2021
Wow today was the first and only very rainy day of the trip. We had anticipated having lots of rain almost every day so we didn’t mind. We had our rain gear on and off we went. We had a short ride today to Brudenell Resort however we did a few detours because we missed the waypoint signs. We arrived just before lunch soaked to the bone and cold. Good thing our room was ready for us as the Hotel was not full. We went up to the room changed and went for lunch at the golf course restaurant. Bob is an avid golfer and the Ryder Cup was on TV that afternoon. We had a well deserved rest watching golf on TV and reading.
September 27, 2021
Left Brudenelll resort after a wonderful breakfast. Easier to get back on the trail this morning as we had seen it the day before. We sort of took a wrong turn yesterday but eventually found our way. Left early to arrive at Vernon Bridge where we stayed at Green Gay Balls B&B. The ride today was uneventful and we are now very used to riding and feeling very good. Jim our host is very interesting and we had lots of stories to share. He took me to the grocery store where we were able to buy something for dinner. We had dinner together which we both prepared and shared lots more stories. HIs house is like an antique museum. I recommend stopping to see his place and encouraging people to stay there when they do the walk.
September 28, 2021
Huge breakfast today to get us going. Left for the last leg of the Island Walk towards Charlottetown. Lost track of the number of KMS we rode on the last few days but we know that the first 4 days were close to 100 kms per day. We rode on the rode following the “little man” and the signs. We got confused a few times because the signs were harder to find. We finally arrived in Charlottetown at the last waypoint #32. We took some pictures of the start of the trail because we did not start here. We continued on the trail to our starting point by our friends house and finally arrived in mid afternoon. It was by far the longest bike ride we had ever done and the most satisfying.
Completing the Island Walk the first year it was opened made us feel very good. PEI is a wonderful place to visit and offers so much to see. I would highly recommend doing a bit of research when booking accommodations to make sure that if the places are off the trail you take that into consideration when deciding how many kms you would walk or ride in one day. My calculations were not the best and some of our days were really long. However we were very proud of ourselves and our ages (65 & 71) that we completed this quest to commemorate our 15th wedding anniversary. I was also very fortunate to visit my cousins and golf at some beautiful island courses after our ride was over.
So the Island Walk quest may be over but for the next 5 days we continued to ride on the newer legs of the Confederation Trail that did not exist 15 years ago. We took our motorhome to the trail heads and rode back and forth until we completed them all. All in all when this was over we cycled a total of 830 kms all around the island. We had the best lobster feasts, the best home made Hamburgers, the best fish and chips, the friendliest people, saw the most beautiful scenery, the confederation bridge from afar and the most fun cycling on our E-bikes. I forgot to mention that we visited the Potato Museum and sure learned a lot about potatoes.