A summer day cycling in Dorset on the Jurassic Coast

With the end of the summer in sight I took a day to go cycling with my daughter in Dorset, one of England’s prettiest counties. We tried one day of Headwater Holiday’s Jurassic Coast Cycling route which would normally take 5 days to explore all that Dorset has to offer. Setting off from Dorchester, we stopped for refreshments in Moreton with a visit to the stunning Lulworth cove, passing Lulworth castle before finishing our ride in Wareham. It’s a cycle ride that you could easily replicate, since you can park at Dorchester and then catch the train back to your starting point from Wareham, or even make a weekend of it with an overnight stop in Lulworth. Read on to discover what we enjoyed on our Dorset cycle ride.

Cycling in Dorset

A briefing before we set off

We were met by Roy, Headwater Holidays local representative who set us up with our bikes and shared some of his local’s knowledge on what to look out for on our route. We even got a quick demo on how to fix a puncture; good to know although luckily we had no need for it on the day.

The track skirted a stream through woodland and we passed a few cheerful dog walkers whose dogs were splashing in the water. Soon we passed a picture postcard thatched cottage, our first of many that day. I swear that Dorset must have more pretty cottages than any other place in England!

Cycling in Dorset with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cycling in Dorset with Headwater Holidays

Cycling through Thomas Hardy country

At a perfectly formed Victorian arched brick bridge we could have taken a short detour to Higher Brockhampton, to visit the birthplace of writer Thomas Hardy, whose novels and poetry draw on the characters and landscape of Dorset. I’d visited before and remembered that the cottage had tiny rooms and was probably quite damp in Hardy’s childhood – not quite the rural idyll it looked from the outside.

As soon as Hardy had made his money he built himself a solid, red brick house at Max Gate which was much more spacious and comfortable! Read about my previous visit to Dorset here. We didn’t visit this time but cycled on past fields with hay bales already wrapped tightly in plastic, like plump white and green marshmallows.

Thomas Hardy Birthplace Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Thomas Hardy Birthplace

The cycle took us through  the pretty village of West Stafford complete with more thatched cottages – even The Wise Man pub and the bus stop were thatched. The birds swooped in and out of the hedgerows and we caught a glimpse of a large bird of prey perched on a tree as we passed the striking Woodsford Castle. The surviving wing of a 14th century castle it was worked on by Thomas Hardy’s father who was a builder, and is now run as a holiday home by the Landmark Trust. By mid morning we arrived at the Moreton Tea Rooms, in the old village school house, which seemed an excellent place to stop for a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge.

Moreton tea rooms on our Dorset cycle ride Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Moreton tea rooms on our Dorset cycle ride

The ford at Moreton

Moreton proved to have more to it than meets the eye and on walking further down the road we found the ford, which Roy had mentioned to us. The shallow crossing point of the river is clearly a popular place for families to come and paddle or dip colourful fishing nets in the water from the foot bridge to try and catch a stickleback. Picnic paskets were being spread out on the gravel river bank, a golden labrador furiously wagging a wet tail and small inflatable boats drifted around – plenty of good clean fun!

Moreton Ford in Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Moreton Ford in Dorset

St Nicholas Church at Moreton

St Nicholas church nearby rewarded our curiosity with a view of the beautiful etched glass windows created by poet and artist Sir Laurence Whistler, who made the windows to replace the stained glass destroyed by a WW2 bomb. If you look carefully from the outside you’ll find a macabre depiction of Judas Iscariot hanging by a tree, which was Whistler’s final gift, but was initially rejected by shocked parishoners and resided for years in a local museum. Just down the road is the grave of Col T E Lawrence, better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ who lived nearby at Cloud Hill and was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.

Moreton Church in Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Moreton Church in Dorset

The Walled Garden at Moreton

Our final discovery was the Walled Garden at Moreton, with with stunning herbaceous borders, fountains and topiary and a startling figure sitting on a bench who almost made me jump. There’s a cafe and farm shop in the pretty dovecote but unfortunately we needed to press on as we had many more miles to cycle that day.

Moreton Gardens in Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Moreton Gardens in Dorset

Now the countryside became more open with the feathery topped maize stalks clothing the fields on one side and freshly ploughed brown earth on the other. The clouds had turned to rain so we put on our waterproofs as we huffed and puffed up a steep hill, finally giving up halfway to push to the top. Our climb was rewarded by views from the crest of the hill in both directions and then we freewheeled all the way down the other side… Wheeeee!

A view over Dorset on our cycle ride Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

A view over Dorset on our cycle ride

A view of Durdle Dor

After half an hour of pedal power, we finally reached the turning to Durdle Dor, through a caravan site to the packed car park set on the cliff. This famous rock arch was part of a complex of sea caves which eroded over time until only a few sea arches remained. In turn the arches collapsed leaving stumps in the sea and Durdle Dor as the last once standing.

It’s one of the most photographed landmarks of the Jurassic coastline and we could see people streaming like ants down the steep path to the beach. As we needed to press on for lunch we decided to take our photographs from the top of the path and then cycled back to the main road heading for Lulworth Cove.

Durdle Dor in Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Durdle Dor in Dorset

Sea views at Lulworth cove

It was an easy cycle through the village of West Lulworth to Lulworth cove, where we left our bikes at the top of the pedestrian path and walked down to the beach. A favourite with geology students, the cove is a perfectly formed circle fringed with a pebbly shore, which was formed millions of years ago when the sea broke through the harder rock layer of the cliffs to erode the softer rock behind. On the far side of the coves you can see the stratification of different rocks that were folded and then eroded by the earth’s movement.

Lulworth cove on our cycle ride through Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lulworth cove on our cycle ride through Dorset

Despite the beach being packed with holidaymakers, it was an attractive scene with jaunty blue and white boats bobbing on their red buoys in the water and boat rides around the headland to Durdle Dor from the jetty. We sat outside The Boatshed Cafe, a long whitewashed building that in the past served as a coal store for fuelling paddle steamers, and ordered a crab sandwich for lunch. It was a perfect spot to watch the children on the beach building pebble dams across the small stream and walking across the shingle I was hit by the salty ozone smell of seaweed lying in messy piles of green and brown.

Crab sandwich at Lulworth Cove Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Crab sandwich at Lulworth Cove

Returning back up the path we could see the popular cliff walk taking people over the hill to Durdle Dor, the spot we had just come from. Around the Lulworth cove car park there is a visitor centre and several pubs and pretty cottages, although I think we had the best view for lunch down by the seashore.

Dorset cottage at Lulworth cove Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dorset cottage at Lulworth cove

The Tanks at Lulworth

Cycling on towards East Lulworth, we passed Lulworth camp with army quarters and two tanks guarding the entrance. We’d heard the boom of firing when we were down at Lulworth cove, as this is where the tank units have their ranges and practice live firing. My husband Guy is a former tank commander and gets excited whenever he sees a tank, so we had to take a photo to send to him.

Tank at Lulworth Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tank at Lulworth Camp

A visit to Lulworth castle

We followed the hill down to Lulworth Castle and in through the imposing stone gateposts. The man on the gate told us that there was a wedding that day, so we couldn’t go into the castle, but we were allowed to visit the pretty church and could see the castle through the trees.

The castle was built as a hunting lodge in the 17th century and became the seat of the Weald family who own the Lulworth Estate. The square stone walls with a round turret at each corner seem the perfect idea of what a castle should look like and when the castle isn’t closed for weddings you can visit the interior and cafe and climb up the towers.

Lulworth Castle in Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lulworth Castle in Dorset

The final part of our day’s cycle ride took us through more pretty villages with thatched cottages and thatched porches looking like bushy eyebrows over the door. The road now followed farm tracks and narrow lanes, every so often joining a fast road with cars whizzing by. The route seemed to have been well planned to keep us off the main road as much as possible and we eventually reached Wareham where those taking the full Headwater Holidays route would stop for the night at the The Red Lion Inn.

Thatched cottage in Dorset Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Thatched cottage in Dorset

We end our ride at Wareham

Wareham seemed a lovely place to stop as we crossed the bridge and saw the pubs with a riverside terraces and kayaks by the river. We cycled on through the town to reach the station, putting our bikes in one of the special carriages for the 20 minute ride back to Dorchester to return to our starting point. Our bikes were left for Roy to collect at The Casterbridge in Dorchester, an attractive town house hotel where Headwater Holidays guests normally stay.

Although we had only tried one day of a 5 day Headwater Holidays Jurassic Coast Cycling route, we had really enjoyed our cycle through the pretty Dorset countryside, with thatched cottages at every corner and lovely sea views at Lulworth. There is so much history to discover too, with the Thomas Hardy and TE Lawrence connections and castles and gardens to visit. Our cycling day with Headwater Holidays gave us a taste of all that you’d hope to find on a day out in the English countryside.

Information for your trip

Headwater Holidays offer relaxed walking and cycling holidays in the UK, Europe and around the world to allow you to discover the culture and natural beauty of each destination at your own pace.

Dorset and Jurassic Coast Cycling – a 5 night cycling holiday through country lanes taking in pretty cottages and historic landscapes with time to relax and swim on the Jurassic Coast beaches.

Jewels of the Jurassic Coast Walk Dorset – A 5 night walk through Dorset’s rolling countryside and along the south-west coastal path starting in Weymouth and ending at Sandbanks.

Roy Griffiths of Signpost Cycling acts as Headwater local agent in Dorset and can arrange bike hire if you want to cycle for just a day or two.

For more information about holidays in Dorset check out the Visit Dorset Tourism website

Thanks to Headwater Holidays who hosted Heather’s cycling day in Dorset.

Cycling in Dorset with Headwater Holidays

Cycling in Dorset with Headwater Holidays

Where to Stay

If you are planning to cycle from Dorchester to Wareham independently, these are the hotels that we recommend that are also used by Headwater Holidays

The Casterbridge in Dorchester is a charming, wisteria clad Georgian town house in the centre of this historic town.

The Red Lion in Wareham is an old inn with lovely rooms decorated in a contemporary style and downstairs has a spacious bar, a cosy snug and a more formal restaurant.

Springfield Country Hotel just outside Wareham is set in 6 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens with comfortable rooms and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool

If you want to cycle from Dorset to Wareham at a more relaxed pace, you could split the route we did into two days, with an overnight stay at Lulworth Cove, in which case we recommend;

Limestone Hotel in West Lulworth is in the village a short walk from the cove and has an English country house feel.

For more hotels in Dorset please check out my Hotels Booking Page powered by HotelsCombined – you can compare prices and book at no extra cost to you, giving me a small commission – thanks for your support!

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Safari and sustainability: making a change in Kenya

August 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Africa, featured, Nature, Walking, World Issues

Think of Kenya and you no doubt picture prides of lion prowling open grassland, giraffe grazing on acacia leaves and elephant cooling off in waterholes. Safari rightly plays a huge part in most Kenya trips, but your experience can be further enriched spending a few days at Free the Children’s Me to We initiative.

Kenya: Safari and Sustainability

Kenya: Safari and Sustainability

Operating just outside of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the initiative supports local communities in a variety of ways, from educational and medical development to hygiene around the home. During your holiday with Audley Travel, you can get involved in some of its projects allows you to contribute to sustainable change and make a real difference to people’s lives, as Mark Gillies, East Africa Specialist at Audley Travel, explains.

Mark with Kisaruni pupils

Mark with Kisaruni pupils

About Me to We

Me to We itself is a social enterprise that was established by Canadian charity Free the Children. It allows visitors and volunteers to access and experience the charity’s development projects in Kenya and seven other countries around the world.

This can include anything from acquiring clean water and improving access to medical facilities to smoothing the way for women to make a living for themselves. It can also involve setting up schools for girls who wouldn’t otherwise receive secondary education.

Tent at Bogani Photo: Audley Travel

Bogani Cottages & Tented Camp

In Kenya, Me to We is run from Bogani Cottages & Tented Camp – a safari-style camp just north of the Masai Mara. Here, visitors not only sleep and eat, but undertake activities beneficial to the local community. They might find themselves helping to build health centres, or collecting water for ‘mamas’ (local women).

The experience

When I initially heard about Me to We, I was a little cynical. Over the 18 years that I’ve regularly visited East Africa, I’ve seen a number of community projects set up with good intentions, only to fade away a few years down the line.

I was therefore taken by surprise when I finally visited the initiative with Audley Travel. The extent of local support for Free the Children’s work is exceptional, and a testament to their achievements. Setting realistic aims, their fairly simple ideas have reaped extensive results in many areas of local life. Not only this, but the positive effects have been maintained over the 15 years they’ve been operating here.

Mark collecting water in Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Mark collecting water in Kenya

What I liked about the Me to We experience was the feeling that you’re an active participant in the work, rather than a passive bystander. You’re right there digging gravel, pushing wheelbarrows and carrying tools. It’s about getting dirty and speaking to local people, whose gratitude is shown in their warm welcome and wide smiles. Speaking basic Swahili myself, I can usually tell when greetings are genuine or simply out of politeness. But everywhere I went here, people’s pleasure in seeing me was unmistakable.

Maasai houses in Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Maasai houses in Kenya

Activities

During your stay, you’ll be in a group of around 12 – usually a mix of ages, from families with children to solo travellers and retired couples. Together with a Maasai guide and a Me to We facilitator, you’ll engage in a number of different activities.

During my time at Bogani, I helped to build an accommodation block for doctors. Contributing to something I knew would be appreciated by the community was really rewarding. I was also able to learn more about the project by talking to Me to We volunteers and local people as we worked together.

Mark with Mama Joyce and beads Photo: Audley Travel

Mark with Mama Joyce and beads

I visited the home of Mama Joyce, who shared her beading techniques with us. Like many other mamas, she’s able to generate an income from her craft to support her family. Previously, women here were completely dependent on men to supply food and money. Yet with the help of Me to We, they’ve been able to learn a craft and sell their products to a wider market.

Beads made by local women in Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Beads made by local women in Kenya

Mama Joyce was also happy to answer any questions we had about village life, and in exchange for her time we collected water for her from the Mara River. While only 200 m away, carrying heavy bucket loads of water was quite a challenge, and was yet another way for us to appreciate the rigours of daily life here. Together we were able to collect enough water to last Mama Joyce at least three days.

Collecting water from the river in Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Another activity I enjoyed was venturing to a local market, armed with some Kenyan shillings and a list of items that the village needed. Strolling through the stalls displaying fruits, fresh flowers and woven baskets, I bartered with the market sellers while soaking up the atmosphere.

Back at the camp, you can try out some of the traditional weapons used by Maasai warriors under the tuition of Maasai field guides. These include spears, throwing sticks, and bows and arrows, which you use to hit a target. It’s a fun way to learn about Maasai culture in an informal way. I was even given my own throwing stick as a keepsake, and it now sits proudly in my home.

Maasai guide in Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Maasai guide in Kenya

Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School

By far the best thing I did was visit Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School. Opened by Free the Children in 2011, it offers hundreds of girls the chance to further their education. In Kenya, secondary schools are unaffordable for many families, and boys have priority.

All of the young women I met here were incredibly inspiring. Seeing their passion for education and listening to them talking about their aspirations to be doctors, engineers, nurses and accountants was really eye opening. I was left in no doubt that most of them would achieve their ambitions.

Pupils at Kisaruni school in Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Pupils at Kisaruni school in Kenya

We were given a tour around the school, not by teachers, but by the head girl and two prefects. They addressed us confidently as they showed us the building’s facilities and spoke about the school’s values.

One thing that stood out was the school’s efforts in promoting a sense of community and bridging differences between the local Maasai and Kipsigi cultures. The contrasting lifestyles of these two peoples (Kipsigi hold areas of land that they cultivate, while Maasai move around with their livestock) have been the cause of bitter feuds and violence for many years. But in this school, pupils celebrate what unifies them.

Kisaruni All Girls School Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Kisaruni All Girls School Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The hard work of the pupils, teachers and Free the Children/Me to We has also paid off in the girls’ academic achievements. 2016 saw the very first year group to pass through the school graduate with the highest marks in the whole of Kenya.

Bogani Cottages & Tented Camp

Situated around a two hour drive north from the core area of the Masai Mara and an hour’s light aircraft flight from Nairobi, the camp is surrounded by open farmland dotted with small villages. The tents are comfortable, with electricity, hot showers and flush toilets, and there are several cottages to accommodate families.

Buffet-style meals, consisting of European dishes with the occasional local delicacy, are served in the camp’s main communal area. Something I always remember about the camp is how involved the catering staff are. Unlike in many safari camps, where they’re friendly but unobtrusive, at Bogani they’re very much a part of the conversation. They’ll greet you, ask about your day and proudly introduce the dishes.

Lion, Masai Mara, Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Lion in the Masai Mara, Kenya

Combining Me to We with safari

A Me to We stay works well with a safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve. Both are very powerful but completely different experiences.

Me to We gives you the opportunity to add to a very positive story of development within Kenya. You learn a lot about yourself and your travel companions, as you’re taken out of your comfort zone and have to turn your hand to things you wouldn’t normally do.

A short drive allows you to enter an entirely different world. A safari in the Masai Mara is all about those close encounters with wild animals – watching lion prides lazing in the sun and wildebeest frantically crossing the wide and fast-flowing Mara River.

A huge grassland area in the southwest of Kenya, between July and October the Masai Mara plays host to the Great Migration. This is a wildlife phenomenon where millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelope follow the rains, attracting predators such as lion, leopard and crocodiles.

The reserve is also home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), along with cheetah, hyena and a variety of birdlife.

Along its edges are private conservancies where many of the camps and lodges are based. Their experienced and knowledgeable guides will lead game drives and walking safaris through the open grassland. In the evening, you’ll share candlelit meals beneath the stars.

Elephant in the Masai Mara, Kenya Photo: Audley Travel

Elephant in the Masai Mara, Kenya

Getting there

After flying to Nairobi for your holiday with Audley Travel, a Me to We facilitator will meet you and transfer you to a hotel for the night. The next day, you’ll take an hour’s flight by light aircraft to the Masai Mara. An hour’s drive past fields of grain and rural villages will see you reach the camp.

Practicalities

A trip combining Me to We and a safari suits anyone with an interest in wildlife, Maasai and Kipsigi cultures, or social development and conservation issues. It’s also for people who want to experience what life is really like in rural Kenya away from the regular tourist spots.

Families are well catered for, with all guides speaking English and activities offered specifically for children. It’s also easy and safe to travel solo: you’ll stay within your group once you arrive and the journeys are all escorted.

July to October is the best time for safaris in the Masai Mara as the Great Migration is in full swing and temperatures are comfortable. The only time I wouldn’t recommend visiting is between the end of March and May, when rain is heavier and more frequent.

About Mark Gillies

Mark Gillies is an East Africa Specialist at Audley Travel. His first experience of the region was in 1998, when he spent three months working as a research assistant on a biological survey programme in southern Tanzania. There hasn’t been a year since that he hasn’t been back to Africa, whether for work or adventure.

It was while working for a travel company that he encountered Kenya and grew to love its wildlife and its people. Since joining Audley, he’s visited Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, furthering his passion for the region.

This article was brought to you in partnership with Audley Travel

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What to wear for Camping in Canada

If you’re planning a holiday in Canada that involves camping or staying in an RV, in one of Canada’s scenic national parks, you might want some tips on what clothing will work best for your holiday. I don’t know about you, but when I’m dressing for outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking and canoeing, I like to choose clothes that are comfortable and functional while keeping a sense of style.

What to wear for camping in Canada

What to wear for camping in Canada

I recently spent two weeks with my husband Guy touring the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, staying mainly on campgrounds and in nationals parks with our cosy RV from Cruise Canada – our home from home on the road. For the trip I teamed up with Columbia Sportswear who specialise in outdoor clothing, to try out some items from their range. Based on my experience of this trip, here’s what you need to pack for a camping trip to Canada.
(For the Brits an RV is a Recreational Vehicle or large camper-van)

Quick drying trousers for evenings around the campfire

Columbia walking trousers for my Canada camping trip

Columbia walking trousers for my Canada camping trip

For hiking or evenings around the camp fire I recommend quick drying walking trousers like these Columbia Women’s Silver Ridge Convertible Trousers. They feel like a lightweight cotton but are in fact made from a 100% nylon technical fabric that wicks away sweat, protects against UV rays and is quick drying when you get caught in a downpour. For outdoor activities like hiking or cycling it’s better to avoid jeans or heavier cotton trousers that weigh you down and soak up moisture at the first sign of rain. Look for trousers that have a neat leg pocket to tuck in your guidebook, map or phone. I also like styles like this that have zip off legs, to make shorts, for maximum versatility. I know I’ll get a lot of use from these walking trousers on future hiking trips.

Check out the Columbia range of walking trousers here

Sporty quick drying t-shirts

Columbia sports t-shirt for my Canada Camping trip

Columbia sports t-shirt for my Canada Camping trip

For outdoor activities I tried out this t-shirt from the Columbia range made of 100% Polyester fabric, designed to wick away sweat and keep me cool. Check out the Women’s Zero Rules Short Sleeve shirt here. I found that this fabric was silky, comfortable and not at all sweaty – ideal for hiking and other activities around the Canadian national parks. As an added bonus this t-shirt was easy to wash by hand or machine, quick to dry and hardly creased at all. Just as well, since irons didn’t seem to exist on the Canadian campgrounds!

I also packed a range of other short sleeve and sleeveless tops in fabrics that were less likely to crease. Although it’s great in sunny weather to wear sleeveless vest tops to stay cool and get a nice tan, being Mrs Sensible I like to alternate them with tops that cover my shoulders to avoid sunburn. I’m looking forward to using this t-shirt on future hiking trips and for jogging at home.

Check out the Columbia range of short sleeve tops here

Sports shorts – go as short as you dare!

Columbia shorts for my Canada camping trip

Columbia shorts for my Canada camping trip

In the warm Canadian summer shorts are worn by all and from what I saw the Canadians like their shorts to be on the short side. In the bars and restaurants the waitress uniform seemed to be the skimpiest of shorts and even ladies of, ahem, a certain age and size seemed to favour very short shorts. No need here for modesty then and you can save your longer bermuda shorts for city sightseeing.

I was able to double up with my quick dry walking trousers from Columbia which had a zip off leg, allowing me to convert long trousers into shorts depending on the weather. The quick dry fabric made them cool and easily washable so ideal for activities like cycling or hiking. If you are a lover of short shorts don’t forget your sun screen even if you want to get a golden tan on your holiday in Canada.

Check out the range of Columbia trousers and shorts here

Trail shoes for hiking in the Canadian parks

Columbia trail shoes

Although I have some excellent hiking boots (read my article here), for this trip I was looking for a hybrid trail shoe which is a cross between a trainer and a boot. My reasoning was that I wanted to have a supportive shoe for hiking in Canada’s national parks but that I wasn’t planning to do any hardcore hiking for hours and days on end. I needed shoes that were suitable for general outdoor activities, to wear around the campground, that wouldn’t be too hot to wear on warm summer days.

These Women’s Grand Canyon Outdry Hiking Shoes were just what I was looking for, with a low ankle so that they weren’t too hot and a waterproof but breathable construction so they would keep my feet dry when walking in the wet. Although these trail shoes didn’t have the support of a high ankle, the construction is very solid, so they would be ideal for summer hiking on rough and rocky trails. For serious long distance hiking I’ll probably stick to boots with ankle support, but these trail shoes are ideal for a situation like our camping trip where you want a hardwearing shoe that is suitable for a range of outdoor activities.

Check out the Columbia range of walking boots and shoes here

Waterproof Jacket – yes it does rain in the Canadian summer

Waterproof jacket on my canada Camping trip

Waterproof jacket on my canada Camping trip

Although the weather on our July trip to Canada was warm and sunny, we did experience a few showers so my lightweight waterproof jacket came in handy (Read my article on what to look for in when buying a waterproof jacket). For summer wear in Canada I’d recommend a lightweight jacket that can roll up small to keep in your day sack but if you’re visiting in spring, early summer or autumn you might prefer a jacket that’s more substantial or has a removeable fleece lining, as we found that mornings and evenings could be cool.

Wearing a waterproof jacket on my Canada canoe trip

Wearing a waterproof jacket on my Canada canoe trip

I wore my waterproof jacket when we were canoeing in Algonquin park as the day was overcast and rain was forecast. Luckily the showers held off until we had finished our canoe trip but the jacket was also ideal for keeping off the midges and flies that you tend to get hovering over the water. Cloudy days can be a bonus in Canada as our guide told us that we were more likely to see wildlife such as moose when the day was overcast, since they come down to the water’s edge to feed, while on hot sunny days they prefer to stay in the shade under the trees.

Check out the range of Columbia waterproof jackets here

Three-quarter length leggings – versatile for outdoor activities

Three quarter trousers for cycling in Canada

Three quarter trousers for cycling in Canada

I found it was useful to have some sporty three-quarter length trousers for activities such as cycling and climbing where I wanted a bit more protection. My sports leggings made from quick dry fabric got a lot of use on our Canada trip and I also wore them for canoeing where they would dry quickly if I got wet wading into the water or splashed from the paddles. The three-quarter length and close fit were also ideal for cycling if you don’t want sunburned thighs or trousers that flap around the ankle.

Check out the Columbia range of casual trousers here

Flip flops for hanging out by the lake

Flip flops for camping in Canada

Flip flops for camping in Canada

If you are a happy camper you’ll know to pack a pair of flip-flops or waterproof sandals that are easy to slip on and off. They are always handy for those early morning trips to the shower block (although luckily we had our own shower and loo in the RV) and for hanging out by the lakes that seem to be a feature of most Canadian camp grounds.

You’ll want something made of plastic so you can easily rinse off the sand or pine needles and they won’t look grubby. No harm in having a pedicure and pretty nail polish before your holiday – we like to keep up standards even when camping!

Check out the range of Columbia sandals and flip flops here

A  cosy fleece for cool mornings

A warm fleece for chilly mornings on my Canada Camping trip

A warm fleece for chilly mornings on my Canada Camping trip

I was pleased that I’d packed a fleece for our Canada trip as despite the warm sunny days, we found the mornings were often quite cool. For the first hour or so each day we often needed an extra layer and then the temperature would warm up and it would be short sleeves all day and into the evening. It was never really too cold on our July trip so I’d suggest a mid-weight fleece if you are visiting in the summer but perhaps something more substantial for the spring and autumn. Due to the limited laundry facilities on the Canadian campgrounds I’d avoid smarter woollen knitwear in favour of anything that is quick drying and doesn’t crease, unless you have an element of your holiday that requires you to dress more smartly.

Check out the Columbia range of fleeces here

Other things to consider

Those pesky flies and mosquitos can be pretty persistent when you get into a camp ground or one of Canada’s national parks. If you are trying any activities such as hiking, cycling or canoeing, a liberal spray of deet based insect repellant is recommended and in the evening it’s best to change into a long sleeved top and long trousers with socks and shoes to cover your feet. I neglected my own advice on a few occasions and regretted it as I was scratching nasty bites for days afterwards.

Most but not all of the camp grounds we visited had washing machines and dryers but none seemed to have any ironing facilities. I’d recommend packing clothes made of quick drying technical fabric that are less likely to crumple in order to look your best, leaving your linen suit at home.

A sunhat is advisable if you’re out on long hikes or canoe trips in the full sun and to fit in with the locals I’d choose a cotton cap – you can buy them everywhere in Canada.

My Canada Camping clothing check list

  • A lightweight waterproof jacket for the occasional shower or cool evenings
  • Long quick dry trousers for hiking and to keep off the insects in the evening
  • Quick dry shorts for sunny days and sporty outdoor activities
  • Three-quarter leggings or joggers for sporty outdoor activities and cool mornings
  • Quick dry sports t-shirts
  • Trail shoes for hiking and climbing
  • Flip flops or waterproof sandals for wearing around the campground and the lakes
  • A mid-weight fleece for cool mornings and evenings
  • A light, long sleeve t-shirt to wear in the evening when the mozzies come out to bite
  • A cotton cap or sunhat to protect you from sunburn or sunstroke on sunny days.
  • Plus of course pack some other casual clothes and footwear for when you are out sightseeing

Thanks to Columbia Clothing who provided me with some of the items mentioned in the article to try out on my Canada trip.

Some of the links in this article allow me to earn a small commission when you purchase at no extra cost to you – thanks for your support!

Visitor information for Canada

To plan your trip to Canada check out the Explore Canada tourism website as well as the websites of the states and national parks you plan to visit, in our case Ontario Tourism and Quebec Tourism. Our RV was provided by Cruise Canada.

More Canada articles

Where to watch wildlife in British Columbia, Canada
How to enjoy a great day in Victoria BC
Vancouver Island – a nature lover’s paradise

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Read what to wear for a camping trip to Canada

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here
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