On September 3rd, 2021, I began The Island Walk, travelling the spectacular beaches and charming byways of Prince Edward Island. On October 3, I completed 714 kilometres. The tad more distance than the official 700km route was due to a slight detour, specifically a visit to Lennon House in Rustico. I raised funds during my walk for this recovery home which helps those struggling with addictions.
The official starting point of the walk is in Charlottetown, but the route is a loop so you can start anywhere along the way. My brother and his family live in St. Peter’s, which is why I began nearby at the New Zealand trailhead.
Many days brought sunshine as I walked. Others were overcast, often with stunning cloud formations. Winds were plentiful and brisk. Only a few days brought challenging rain. Regardless, the natural beauty was spectacular and the terrain flat and easy, although the Bonshaw and Hunter River areas presented satisfying hills. I ate lunch by ocean waves and along reddish-brown cliffs, or in tranquil coves where the water lapped serpentine stretches of smooth sand. PEI’s distinctive red clay roads were gently undulating, forest-framed and soft underfoot. The Confederation Trail portions were an oasis of calm with picnic tables and shelters.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the experience was meeting the people of PEI. Islanders are exceptionally welcoming. As my walk was a fundraiser for Lennon House, a number of people generously opened their homes to me. When not staying in private homes, I found other excellent accommodations. I highly recommend the well appointed cabin at Seal Cove Campground, with sweeping waterviews and the most welcoming hosts. In Summerside, the family-owned Sunny Isle Motel was exceptional. You walk through Summerside twice, eastward and westward, and it’s a short cab ride back to the trail from Sunny Isle. Near Alberton, I stayed in a lovely suite at Briarwood Coastal Cottages and in a homey cottage at Millstream Cottages, right on the route near Brackley Beach.
I discovered vegan ice cream at the Kool Breeze Ice Cream Bar and, along one of the prettiest sections of the walk in St. Peter’s, is Rick’s Fish ‘N’ Chips and Seafood House. And when you’re near Cascumpec, it’s worth stopping by the Cascumpec General store, a cool vintage shop in the refurbished Cascumpec Town Hall. There’s so much to discover on The Island Walk!
As anyone who has done a long distance walk will attest, it is a mental game as much as a physical test. It’s a rare opportunity to spend a lot of time reflecting, and a restorative, expansive experience. Prince Edward Island presented nature in all its glorious forms, and with everything I needed carried on my back, it was more than adventure, it was freedom and fertile ground for personal growth. And Lennon House grew, too. Through people’s generous donations, $7460 was raised, making the adventure that much sweeter.
Christine Renaud is a writer, hiker, and artist living on Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat land in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She blogs at itsjustmechristine.wordpress.com