Inn-to-Inn Walking Tour in Vermont
By car I’d have missed the haunting old Revolutionary War cemetery; on foot, it seems as inevitable as a bend in the road.
High on a hillside overlooking Echo Lake, the scene is pure Thornton Wilder. Here lie Israel P. Brown and his two wives. Scattered between them are the headstones of their daughters, Mary (age 23), Betsey (age 20), and Priscilla (age 16). Israel outlasted every one of them, and, as with all half-told tales, imagination finishes the story.
It ends in a scene of utter peace: still other weathered granite stones tilting down the hill, and a lake edged with water lilies. I have time to write the story because I have time to daydream, and I have time to daydream because I’m walking. The day stretches out ahead of me like the slowest magic-carpet ride on earth.
“Travelers, there is no path; paths are made by walking,” said Spanish poet Antonio Machado. I’m walking in southern Vermont, from inn to inn, making my own path, but in fact I’m also following a specific route carved out by four innkeepers. It’s a walk designed to deliver the full Vermont experience: red barns, sunlit fields, babbling brooks, old Capes, and a bit of backwoods funk. Not to mention a broad spectrum of dining experiences and four unique inns.
The “Vermont Inn-to-Inn Walking Tour” is a four-day, self-guided meander averaging 10 miles a day, mainly around the villages of Chester, Weston, Ludlow, and tiny Simonsville, near Andover. (As you walk, you can’t help but notice how resilient Vermonters are as they recover from last summer’s flooding in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.) The four historic inns–Inn Victoria, Old Town Farm Inn, Combes Family Inn, and Rowell’s Inn–are linked by their owners’ shared love of Vermont and a commitment to their under-the-radar walking tour.
It’s simple and efficient. The innkeepers transport your bags door to door, Vermont sherpa-style; greet you at the end of the day with a drink and a home-cooked meal (possibly a featherbed or Jacuzzi, too); and, in the morning, send you on your way with a hearty breakfast, snacks for the road, a map of your walking route, and best wishes for a pleasant day.
A final feature that sets this tour apart from so many others? You’re on your own, so you can set your own pace. Walk alone or with friends; do as much or as little of the walk as you like; and at any time of year and in any order. Basically, the tour is as idiosyncratic as the state you’re walking in.
Part 1: Inn Victoria to Old Town Farm Inn (9.1 miles)