A Great Combination of Gravel and Asphalt Around Dunham
I particularly like biking when the landscape, a gentle lethargic ambiance and rural life come together to create that little extra something akin to perfection. I feel exactly this way when I pedal on this fifty-kilometre circuit of quiet roads, spanning across farmlands and through the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route. Today, I’m sharing with you this delightful mix of asphalt and gravel routes.
Starting out in Dunham, the birthplace of Québec viticulture, the loop heads nearby “La Doyenne des Vignes” and the “Circuit du Patrimoine”, two very popular routes biking enthusiasts can find on the Tourisme Brome-Missisquoi cycling map. However, this special incursion onto unpaved roads adds new appeal to our outing as we enjoy riding at a snail’s pace within this atmosphere of total tranquility.
So, here we go! From the public parking area located behind the town hall building, we ride out on Rue Principale for about 400 metres and then head west on Maska, Perry, Bullard. The route can’t be more peaceful. Rows of mature trees, farms, clearings, and a few cows accompany us all the way to the hamlet of Riceburg. From here we pedal towards Stanbridge East, where we take a snap shot moment by the Missisquoi Museum alongside the Rivière aux Brochets. A truly picturesque spot! Then, it’s south towards the border passing by a series of corn fields. On the corner of Gage and Ridge Road, we find a charming little fieldstone church which dates back to 1842. We pass by several cemeteries scattered here and there throughout the route. Two of these even face each other on Ridge Road, both surrounded by corn and raspberry fields. In fact, this road fascinates me with its canopy of majestic trees and the views of the distant green mountain ranges and Mount Pinacle.
Since we’re in no hurry, another stop—and a tasting—surrounded by the exquisite environment of the Domaine du Ridge vineyard. I always have my Arkel bag with me when I go biking to bring back some souvenirs of my outings that I’ll savour later in the week as I reminisce about these fine moments. Guthrie Road, strewn with barns, farms and farmland, doesn’t lack in charm either! From one field to the next, the colours change and pique our curiosity. Well, well, we spot a few deer treating themselves while the farmer is out. We’re now in Pigeon Hill, on the Chemin Saint-Armand made famous by well-known columnist Foglia. We head further south on Des Érables. These last few kilometres of rather flat roads have given way to a more elevated route, adding some variety to the ride and allowing us to exercise our calves a bit. A superb section where everywhere we look, we can observe mountains in the background once again.
For those who have an interest in epic battles, have you ever heard about the Raid on Eccles Hill? Taking a right turn at the end of Chemin Des Ormes, 200 metres down the road towards the border and you’ll come upon a Canadian National historical site! This little-known monument was erected in honour of the Canadian Volunteers who, along with the Home Guards, pushed back the rebel Fenians on May 25, 1870. We then turn back on Eccles Hill and I’m absolutely awed by the next few kilometres that will take us back onto the Chemin St-Armand with the feeling of being escorted by enormous hundred-year-old maples. The play of light and shade of this tree-lined road has a profoundly seductive effect on me.
Next, we ride along des Bouleaux, Blinn, Ross, Beartown, Perry and Maska, to return to Dunham. We’re now ready to enjoy the Brasserie Dunham’s lovely terrace and the Sucrerie de l’Érable’s legendary maple syrup pie, available at La Rumeur affamée. What a great way to end our short getaway!
Overall, this route is made up of 60% paved and 40% gravel surfaces. The longer flat segments are broken up by rolling hills, enough to cover an ascent of 400 m. over these 52 km. If your mind works somewhat like mine, a sensitive machine for perceiving life, nature, and all those little things that make us happy, you’re likely to experience a sensation of true well-being. A well-being you’ll soon be sharing with your friends when you come back to Brome-Missisquoi…
***The Fenians were members of a secret society founded in 1857 by a group of Irish Republicans residing in the United States. Their mission was to fight for the independence of Ireland. Some of these “revolutionaries” planned to invade Canada, to separate the country from the British crown and thus create a new front against Britain.
To learn more: https://histoire-du-quebec.ca/feniens/