a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Oct, 2018

Bike ride to Aylmer: easy path, scenic views, stellar fries (and beer!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

Mark’s birthday was in September and we commemorated the occasion with a great bike ride… to Aylmer, QC.

Some of you might remember a bike ride we undertook last summer. Frankly, I amazed myself. We biked to Stittsville and back to Westboro and LIVED. But this was not that. The bike route to Aylmer from Westboro is considerably shorter than biking to Stittsville, in fact, it’s only about 12km one way.

(If you’d like to plot a cycling route I heartily recommend you use the Bike Ottawa interactive maps. They’re A+.)

First of all, I should explain… WHY AYLMER. And to that I say, why not. It’s a cute little town that’s right on the river and a reasonable distance from Ottawa. It also fits into my idea of The Perfect Destination, most notably because beer and food can be found there. I truly believe the best outings have a nice carrot at the end. But I will get into that later.

Our route began at Westboro Beach. From there we crossed over to Quebec via the Champlain Bridge. Honestly, this was the worst part of our journey, as traffic is fast and the space allotted to bikes is narrow. If you want to bike to Aylmer with kids (and you should) I recommend they bike on the sidewalk, no matter what anyone says.

This first part of our journey was a little uncomfortable but it was all uphill from there (I mean figuratively, not literally).

We hopped on the bike path on the Quebec side (a.k.a the Sentier des Voyageurs Pathway) and headed west. The path is totally flat and paved and there are lots of little places to stop so you can take in views of the river:

Bike ride to Alymer

This part of the route to Aylmer is very pretty. It’s a quiet path. We went during the day on a Friday. There weren’t a lot of cyclists on the path but it also didn’t feel totally isolated, if you know what I mean.

Bike ride from Ottawa to Aylmer

Interestingly, I don’t think we passed a single pedestrian along the majority of the bike path, although there were more people as we got closer to Aylmer and were cycling near neighbourhoods.

At one point it becomes pretty clear that you’re near Aylmer. There is plenty of signage, which is welcome for first-timers, small children, and nervous cyclists. At this point it’s pretty easy. You just pick a road and turn your bike in a northerly direction.

We were fairly hungry. It was long past lunchtime AND we hadn’t spent any time researching which restaurants we wanted to hit up here. What’s the best restaurant in Aylmer? You tell me! I will say that we were pretty fortunate that we decided to go to the British Pub & Cafe:

Aylmer restaurants

It’s gorgeous inside, but we were happy on the patio. The wasps made us less happy, but hey, you have to roll with the punches sometimes.

I had a tough time choosing my meal and after MUCH deliberation, opted for their veggie burger. ($16, fyi).
Here’s how it’s described on the menu: Homemade quinoa and tofu patty, house turnip pickles, slices of tomato, pickles, romaine and aioli.

This is how it arrived at our table:

Lunch at the British, in Aylmer

I had to laugh at the savoury vegetarian pancake that was sandwiched between two buns, but then I took a bite. And other. It was really really good! My mouth did a happy dance. And now I ask myself, why does a burger need to look like a burger? This was perfectly fine. And those sweet potato fries? Oh my. I would honestly get back on my bike right now if I knew those fries were waiting for me in Aylmer.

I enjoyed a cold beer with my lunch but I kept it to ONE because I didn’t want to be wobbly on the way home.

After lunch, we biked to the Aylmer Marina. It’s a glorious downhill wind-in-your-hair ride from the British, which is on Rue Principale Street, so don’t go back on the bike path to get there, definitely take Principale.

View from Aylmer Marina

Just past the Aylmer Marina is a lovely park and beach. The Sentier des Voyageurs Pathway continues but this was the furthest we’d go today.

It was one of those bright and happy end-of-summer days but the beach was mostly deserted. It’s no surprise, really. It was a school day after all. I found myself wondering, however, what took us so long to pay a visit.

The beach near the Aylmer Marina

The beach is closed

Soon it was time to head back home. We paused to admire the scenery along the way and stopped at some of the scenic lookouts we had skipped over the way here.

Bike ride from Ottawa to Aylmer

Bike ride from Ottawa to Aylmer

The ride back over the Champlain Bridge was just as hair-raising as the first time, but I was powered by sunshine and sweet potato fries and felt much better equipped to deal with it.


3 Responses to "Bike ride to Aylmer: easy path, scenic views, stellar fries (and beer!)"

1 | Natalie Robichaud

October 19th, 2018 at 4:12 pm

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Glad you made it to my neck of the woods Andrea :) you picked one of our best restaurants and definitely the best patio in town. I’m happy you had a good time!

2 | KristaR

October 22nd, 2018 at 3:26 pm

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What a perfect way to celebrate a birthday!

3 | andrea tomkins

October 25th, 2018 at 12:24 pm

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It was pretty perfect! It had all the right elements: good weather, good company, good lunch. ;)
I will be back!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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