Tour the Townships in Style and Comfort with Wood & Westland

by Morri Mostow and Doug Long

If you want to discover the very best of the Townships, you are in luck! Wood & Westland, a brand-new touring company, has created the ultimate bike and van tours. In keeping with their love of the region and desire to preserve it, owners Trish Wood and Joan Westland restrict each tour to 10 people.

“Small groups allow us to provide a very personal, customized tour,” says 29-year-old Wood. “We don’t stand around with a clipboard, herding guests on and off a bus to a tight schedule. If a group wants to change the agenda or take a different route, we are happy to oblige. We always include some free time for exploration and optional activities.”

Wood, a sports enthusiast who recently returned to her hometown of Knowlton after several years leading adventure tours in the Rockies, says their six-day Bike & Hike tour averages 35 to 65 km of cycling per day. A van accompanies the riders so that no one has to pedal beyond his or her endurance.

Wood and Westland have thoroughly researched the Townships. They have found the most charming places to stay (B&Bs, inns and small hotels), the best places to eat, the most interesting sites and places to visit — and bundled it all into a week-long vacation package for about $1,500 per person, double occupancy. (Add $120 per week for a comfortable hybrid road bike, helmet and trunk bag — or bring your own bike.)

“Our tours are an ideal introduction to the Eastern Townships for people who want to enjoy an active, outdoor experience coupled with top-quality comfort and convenience,” says Wood. “We handle all of the logistics and equipment, meals and accommodations, and connecting transportation from Burlington or Montreal.”

To make their trips even more interesting, Wood and Westland talk about local history, geography and ecology as their scenic-tour van rolls through the picturesque vineyards of Dunham, the mountains of Sutton, the Victorian village of Knowlton, and the towns of North Hatley, Orford and Magog. Activities include a lecture by a local historian, a stop at a local artisan’s workshop, a visit with a producer of maple products (syrup, wine, candy), Gregorian chants at the St. Benot-du-Lac Abbey, visits to a Loyalist museum, an antiques-reproduction workshop … and more. Along the way, guests get to savour some of the Townships’ best produce and cuisine. One tour highlight is a refreshing half-day soak in the tubs of the new Bolton Falls Spa, a very low-key, relaxing spot that capitalizes on the beauty of its natural setting.

If you hurry, you can still join a Wood & Westland summer tour. Visit www.woodandwestland.com on the Web for departure dates and details.

To take advantage of the fall foliage and the famous Brome Lake Duckfest, the scenic van tours extend into November. Wood & Westland also offers a unique four-day Gourmet Wine & Dine tour in the fall. This epicurean’s delight combines a stay at the renowned Hatley Inn, a full-day gourmet cooking class using local produce and fresh herbs from the inn’s greenhouse, a wine-tasting vineyard tour and a visit to local antique shops. The grand finale is the table de chef, when guests watch the chefs prepare dinner, then sit down to a seven-course feast at a 10-ft. table in the inn’s kitchen. 

For skiers in pursuit of the perfect run, Wood & Westland has a “Five Peaks in Five Days” tour, which includes a gourmet dinner at a different restaurant every night. At each ski resort, an “ambassador” introduces the hill and its trails to help everyone get the most out of the day’s skiing. The tour ends at Vermont’s Jay Peak, adopted as a Townships hill because of its excellent trails and proximity to the border.

For Trish Wood and Joan Westland, their new business venture is the culmination of years of planning. Westland, 52, brings years of administrative experience to the partnership. A former United Nations delegate, Westland currently works as a labour-policy consultant while serving her fifth term as mayor of the tiny hamlet of East Bolton. “My consulting work involves a great deal of world travel,” she says. “Frankly, I prefer to stay home.” Together, Wood and Westland hope to realize their dream of living and working in their beloved Townships.

Wood & Westland also organizes business meetings, events and incentive travel tours. You can reach the company at (450) 292-3030 or 1-866-858-3030, or visit www.woodandwestland.com on the Web.