Further Afield Trips asks locals in a town well beyond Vancouver’s city limits where to find the best places to eat, drink, chill, and have a good time. Think of it as the country cousin to The Dishes.
In this edition, Averill Creek Vineyard Winemaker, Brent Rowland, primes us on where to eat, drink and explore in the Duncan and Cowichan Valley area, so we’re ready as soon as the next opportunity for a sunny weekend trip to Vancouver Island hits…
Good morning! Let’s start the day with a walk/hike in nature. Where should we go?
Stoney Hill is a beautiful hike along the cliffs on the Vancouver side of Sansum narrows, overlooking Maple Bay and Saltspring Island.
Is there somewhere along the way we can stop for coffee?
Drumroaster Coffee in Cobble Hill is a local institution, as is the Garage in downtown Duncan.
Now we’re starving! Where should we eat?
I have a soft spot for the huevos rancheros at Brunch on 3rd in Duncan. And, almost as crucial, they make a mean Caesar… It’s important to keep your fluids up after that hike, after all!
We’ve got some free time for an afternoon adventure. What do you suggest we do?
The Cowichan Valley has some of the best mountain biking on the planet. Mt Tzouhalem has some fantastic trails and amazing views. A local favourite route on the mountain is to ride up via A Grand Traverse to reach mid-mountain and then connect through to Field of Dreams, for a loop that brings you to the start of Double D for some fast, flowy fun. A quick pedal back up the mountain to Bumble Bee gives you a fast descent to the start of AGT where you started. Or, if you want to really challenge yourself, you could attempt Mt Prevost, but that is a whole other animal.
Where should we head for a post-adventure beer, glass of wine or cocktail?
The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub in Maple Bay is right on the water. On Sundays you can watch the sailboats from the local yacht club race around the bay. Andy (the owner of Averill Creek) and I will be out there battling it out. We will meet you at the pub for a post-sail pint.
Now we’re hungry again. What’s the plan for dinner?
Pizzeria Prima Strada in Cobble Hill is fantastic. Proper Neapolitan woodfired pizza here in the Cowichan Valley. My go-to is the Diavola with added arugula.
Any tips on a good spot to take in the view and watch the sun go down?
If you are staying at The Tractor Shed Guest House (see below), then the view from the hot tub on the deck. But if not, then it’s hard to beat the view from the Terrace at Averill Creek. Bit of a shameless plug but it’s pretty legit. You get a view of the entire valley with Cowichan Bay in the distance.
Let’s warm up with a nightcap / a warm drink before we turn in for the night. Where do you suggest we go?
The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar is perfect for a nightcap. Jeff will look after you for sure – he is a cocktail ninja!
It’s time to catch some shuteye, where do you suggest we stay?
The Tractor Shed Guest House at Emandare Vineyard is stunning, located in the middle of the site overlooking the vines. You will not find a nicer, more hospitable couple than Mike and Robin. Inside tip: if you’re into golf then bring your putter.
Anything we absolutely have to pack in our suitcase while visiting?
We pretty much have everything you could want here in the Valley. Just make sure you pack a positive attitude and a thirst for adventure.