In September, Quench is launching its partnership with The Great Trail on a group departure hosted by Ed Robertson and Alan Doyle in Newfoundland. Quench owners Jen & Mercedeh share why they chose this destination to begin the series of great Canadian explorations, and why independent travellers will have just as special an experience if they travel this summer on their own.
'What inspired you to design Quench's first Great Trail trip in Newfoundland?'
Well, we love Newfoundland and we knew the coastal trails were as beautiful as any in the world, so that was easy. But mainly we chose it because we wanted to highlight an area of the trail that was not only gorgeous to walk, but that would allow visitors to immerse themselves in a unique part of Canadian culture. A walk is great, but it is the encounters with great characters and local experiences along the way that make a journey like this special.
'What makes St John's a good base for a trip like this?'
This section from Cape Spear to St John's is the very beginning of The Great Trail on the east coast, and historically St John's is one of the earliest known settlements in Canada so to made sense to start here. Also, we love working with the folks at Mallard Cottage, so once we knew the Inn was opening, we felt it was the perfect home-base for our travellers to experience that unbeatable St John's hospitality.
'What portions of the trail have you hiked and what was your favourite section?'
We've hiked small sections of the trail in various provinces and most of it has been very beautiful, but these first 40kms or so in Newfoundland are really are special. The scenery on a sunny day is simply spectacular. It's hard to beat, and it certainly stands out among the many of the more famous trails that people hike around the world. On this trip, I'd have to say my favourite piece is between Cape Spear and Petty Harbour - just so gorgeous to see the Atlantic ocean all the way along.
'What can your travellers expect to experience 'off' the trail?'
Off the trail on our group trip, they should expect to laugh a lot. Ed and Alan are funny! And, there will be amazing music at the kitchen party and around the night fire with lots of local guests. Everyone seems to come out of the womb with an instrument in hand in this province, s the creative fun abounds! Everyone who does this - either with the group or on their own - can look forward to meeting terrific characters and eating meals to die for. We'll need all that walking to justify the food, because no one wants to miss a bite of those east coast delicacies. The breakfast baskets alone at the Inn are simply divine, and that is just at the start of the day. People need to leave their diets at home and bring their stretchy pants!
How does the self-guided trip differ from the hosted trip, and what Quench moments can independent travellers look froward to?
The obvious difference is that independent travellers will not have Ed, Alan and the Quench team along the way with them. That said, they will still benefit from the amazing people that Quench will introduce them to, and the special experience of staying at the Inn by Mallard Cottage. Our local hiking guides will walk with them, sharing their stories and there humour, and a tour of Petty Harbour with local fishermen is very enlightening as well. There will be spontaneous surprises along the way that only we can promise... but we can't share those now of course. Even without us there, our friends in Newfoundland will share the same warm hospitality and bring the destination to life, and travelling solo will mean that people can do this on their own timetable, with lots of flexibility. Of course, when they book it is just subject to availability at the Inn.
'Do you have a favourite dish at Mallard Cottage?'
The menu changes there all the time based on season... but I'd have to say the cod cheeks are pretty outstanding, and I had a piece of halibut there last month that was to die for. At brunch, the baked goods are warm, fresh and soooo delicious - impossible to resist!