Northern New England

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
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Trip End Apr 01, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Maine
Sunday, August 3, 2008

Northern New England
Following on from Rhode Island we have continued in a circular route. 
Williamstown - Massachusetts
We next headed north to Williamstown. The drive up was mainly through the forested hills known as the Berkshires. It was difficult to see much, as most of the time we were under siege by thunderstorms, with rain so heavy even with the wipers on full it was difficult to make out the road. We were based on the edge of town and as there were pavements, a rare thing in America, we decided to walk the two miles to the centre of town along the leafy route, which was lined by well tendered homes with lush gardens. Williamstown is fairly small with just over 8000 inhabitants. It is a college town, with a small but tasteful main street, the rest of town is sparkling clean with huge freshly mowed lawns, churches and historic college buildings. The down side is most restaurants are closed on a Monday so our only option was a Thai place, which we have to say was delicious, we are fans of Thai Green Curry! Of course it wouldn't have been complete without the obligatory bottle of Singa beer! Heading due west from town is the start of the Mohawk trail, now a paved road with scenic views. Originally it was an Indian trading route following the path of several river beds, this trail was used for bringing trade goods up from the shores of the Atlantic, we enjoyed tracing the trail for about 30 miles before returning to Williamstown.   
Burlington - Vermont
We headed further north, nearly to the Canadian border, more and more trees at every turn! Apparently this area is breathtaking in the autumn; I could imagine it would be. Our next stop is Burlington, Vermonts largest town which is set on Lake Champlain, named after a French explorer in the 1600's. The lake is big, 110 miles long by 12 miles wide and stretches up across the Canadian border and makes a great backdrop. The main street is pedestrianised and is lined by restaurants with European style open air seating. There are some great drives along the lake, we rode out in the evening we were fortunate enough to capture a spectacular sunset across the lake, very romantic!
North Conway & The White Mountain National Park - New Hampshire
Our route today took us due East back toward the Atlantic. Wow what a stunning drive this was, firstly we stopped by the winter ski resort of Stowe, a tiny village with interesting stores and eateries in a woodland setting backed by the Green Mountains. Just down the road is Ben & Jerry's original Ice Cream plant, we could not resist the tour of the production line and of course the tasting room! We we able to try their new flavour a mixture of chocolate fudge brownie and cookie dough, yummy! We then moved on to Montpelier, this is the state capital of Vermont, only half the size of Burlington but a real stunner of a town. We parked up the car and completed a walking tour. The buildings and churches were very appealing with their golden domes and spires set against the green of the mountain slopes. Montpelier is one of the leading hospitality centres in the States and there are several establishments including a bakery which are staffed by students from the college. We chose the Main Street Grill and had an excellent lunch, the homemade bread was wonderful. The students work both front and back of house to learn all aspects of the service delivery. We highly recommended you pay a visit when you're in town! 
Our trip across to New Conway took us across the regions most scenic drive, it is called the Kancamagus Highway, named after another Indian Chief. The road takes you to just under 3000ft through the heart of the White Mountains. The views are great, there are lots of mountain rivers and lakes which add to the diversity of the drive
North Conway, is a another Ski resort town. Packed full of great restaurants and designer stores at knocked down prices, shame we have no room in the luggage! We stayed a couple of nights at a turn of the century inn called the Nereledge, the inn is set just outside town but is close enough to walk across to the main street, it comes complete with rickety staircases, wooden beams and a log burning stove for winter, a wonderful homely place with a large sitting room to relax on squishy sofa's, a guest pantry and great breakfast choices. There are also rocking chairs and church pews on the wrap around porch which is a great place to relax too.
Outside North Conway there are endless activities to suit everybody, lots of natural wonders like Cathedral ledge, a steep cliff which you can drive to the top of, we got great views of the area and the surrounding ski slopes, we also got good views of the cliffs reflected in Echo Lake below. 
A few miles out of town are Arathusa falls; these are reached by a two hour return hike up a very steep trail. Within 10 minutes of starting this trail the heavens opened and we were drenched, the heavy downpour turned the trail into a mountain stream. Where others may have tuned back we kept going, well we're made of sturdy stuff, I knew those North Face coats would come in handy! After an hour we reached the falls, these were made even more spectacular by the resent rains, it was well worth the hike
We clocked up some walking miles on this day! Another 40 minute trek took us out to Diana's Baths. The terrain was much flatter, a walk in the park compared to the morning hike. The Baths are a series of pools created by the mountain river flowing over and chiselling out pools in the rocks, in between there are lots of waterfalls. Hardy soles bathe here, according to one guy returning from the pools, they are very cold but refreshing, we'll take his word for that! We had a great stay here and feel it would be a perfect place to come skiing when we decide we are ready to have a go!
 Brunswick & Freeport - Maine    
Both charming villages with wide Main Streets, in fact Brunswick has the widest Main Street in the whole of America. Apart from more stores and eateries these villages offer little else. Both are set a few miles inland from the ocean but drive out and you will find some beautiful coves and fishing harbours set on the many rocky peninsulas and islands of Casco Bay. We drove out to Bailey Island; the sun was shining for a change! The scenery was reminiscent to a summers day in Cornwall. Lobster pots were to be seen all along the shorelines, in fact 80% of all lobsters eaten in the USA are caught in the waters off Maine. Being on the ocean we went in search of fish and chips! We took a recommendation from one of the Shop keepers and headed out to Freeport Wharf to the Harraseeket Fish & Lobster shack, a perfect setting right on the waterfront. I hate to say it but this was probably the best battered fish we have ever had, chips could have been better but you can't have everything!
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