BEARS, AND FORESTS, AND LAKES, OH MY! In the edges of Canadian wilderness, travel writer HARRIET BEDDER finds more adrenaline-pumping adventure than she expected. We are standing on the island shore in our underwear, looking across a body of water at land that stands less than twenty metres away from us. Our guide, Chantal, takes the first step into the dark lake, sinking into the mud before pushing off and propelling towards the other side against the slow moving current. Torn between safety and adventure, our bodies heightened by rising cortisol levels - unwillingly follow behind her. We emerge on the other side and turn to see our piles of clothes on the island we have left behind – our home for the next two nights. We look up the bank in front of us where Chantal is now standing. ‘I thought you two wanted to track a bear!’ She calls, and beckons at us to follow. After landing at North Bay airport, roughly a 45 minute flight from Toronto in a twin-engine turboprop, we catch our first glance of the airport’s windmill, inscribed with a message welcoming us to the small town. Our Northern Edge hosts are already waiting to pick us up and take us to the lodge, an hour’s drive away to the secluded woodlands of Algonquin Park. When we arrive, the first thing we are greeted with is the stars. The vast blanket of black over the canopy of birch and maple trees around us is dotted with the most amazing array of shining lights exceeding those in the Icelandic mountains, and giving the Atacama Desert in Patagonia a run for it’s money. It’s hard to draw your eyes away from them, and there is a longing to run, mesmerised, into a bigger clearing to get a better look a the sky.
KENSINGTON & CHELSEA REVIEW
The spell is broken with an introduction to our guide for the duration of the trip, a warm and friendly woman with an air of adventure and mystery about her. After being lead to our comfortably cosy yet spacious rooms – made up of clusters of individual log cabins dotted around the site – we fell into a deep, undisturbed sleep in anticipation of the following four days. With no external sounds or light, the whole party awoke simultaneously without alarms - at 5am feeling recharged and awaiting breakfast cooked by our personal chef. The food at Northern Edge lodge is outstanding, with fresh, organic produce being cooked at each meal by Gregor of Stonemote Cottage. He follows no recipes, but instead personally selects the freshest crops from local farmers and markets and creates colourful spreads of mouthwatering dishes – whilst maintaining the ability to cater to all of our dietary requirements. Food for our camping trip was also prepared and packaged by Gregor so that we felt that our base camp in the woodland of Algonquin Park was but a home from home. Located in Algonquin Park, which is roughly the same size as Wales measuring in at around 5,000 square miles - Northern Edge sits along one of the countless freshwater lakes, giving the Lake District’s limited variety a run for their money. With its vast beauty and diversity, camping for months in the park would bring a different experience each day. A reserve for wildlife, including black bears and packs of wolves, you are left to feel at one with