Birches by the Beach – CLRM Staff Review

There is something special about cottage country in the fall. The crisp mornings with mist-covered lakes, the satisfying rustling and crunch of dried fallen leaves and possibly the best part…not needing to worry about bug spray because the mosquitos have disappeared! Everywhere you look, the colours are incredible as the trees display their seasonal finale, bursting into rich reds, golds, yellows and bronze.

I had been planning a trip to check out some of our Haliburton Highland Ontario cottage rentals for ages and had the very kind offer to stay at Birches by the Beach on Albion Lake. Just outside Bancroft, Ontario, it was the perfect central location to enjoy both the stillness and calm on the north shore, while being a quick 15 minutes into town.

Driving through Ontario Cottage Country

The drive from Durham Region and the GTA couldn’t be easier. The weather was absolutely perfect for a Sunday drive so my girls and I packed up the car and hit the road. Heading straight up the 115 to Hwy 28, you’ll pass everything you could possibly need with gas stations and restaurants peppering your route. As you get closer, you’ll pass through the south side of Bancroft, with even more options for shops before the last winding leg of your trip. Part of the fun of visiting Ontario cottage country is the drive there and this one does not disappoint. We spotted a bear on Hwy 28, a gaggle of turkeys and lots of migratory birds. The last few minutes of the drive is on traditional country roads that would be best suited to snow tires in the winter but my standard SUV managed well with the leaf covered dirt road.

Arriving at the Cottage

Once we pulled in the driveway, we knew right away that we had found the right place. There is plenty of parking and the Bunkie is the first building you’ll pass, before walking up the steps to the main door. We realized driving in that the cell service past Bancroft gets a bit spotty so we were glad to have already opened the digital cottage guest guide for the arrival details and door code for the keyless entry.

Arriving at Birches by the Beach near Bancroft, Ontario

Inside the main entrance there is a cozy foyer that opens right into the kitchen, which you might not even notice straightaway because the lakeview from the massive windows across the back of the family room is truly stunning. There really isn’t a bad view from any of the windows throughout the cottage!

Stunning lakeview from the cottage family room

The kitchen is well laid out and had loads of space for our cooler and snacks, outfitted with everything you could think of needing during your stay. The owners left the sweetest welcome card and gift, which we shared and took note of the makers names, so we could find their products in town!

The sweetest welcome with locally purchased gifts

Photoshoot Time

Since we were starting to lose the light, I wanted to get as many photos of the cottage and waterfront at twilight as I could, so we quickly settled in and headed down to the water. This place truly lives up to its name, as you really are surrounded with Birches by the Beach! 

Walking through the fallen leaves and birches leading to the beach

Being late fall, the docks were already out but the temperature was extremely warm and a very happy surprise! The water is crystal clear, and we had to resist the urge to wade right in! The shoreline is perfect for families of all ages and mobilities with the shallow gradual entry. There are hours of fun just waiting for little ones to sit and splash along the shoreline, while older guests could swim and paddle for miles!

We couldn’t get over just how quiet and peaceful the area was. The only sounds to be heard were the slowly lapping waves, the rustling of leaves from the squirrel family scurrying around, and the very chatty Blue Jays as they flew from tree to tree.

After catching the fantastic golden hour light and a pretty spectacular sunset, we headed inside to start dinner and settle in for a movie night.

Sunset on Albion Lake

So Much To See & Do

The next morning after a great night’s sleep, I grabbed my blanket and morning tea and headed straight outside to enjoy the peace and quiet. There’s no better start to the day than sitting along the shore in a Muskoka chair with a hot cup of tea (or coffee) and the crisp morning air, while you look out over the lake with only water and trees as far as you can see.  

Good morning from the lake!

Once everyone was awake and ready to explore again, we went to check out the Bunkie, which is such a cool space!  You’d never know it’s a completely finished hideaway with sleeping for 3 guests including a couch, tons of charging spots and its own electric fireplace until you open the door!  It’s the perfect spot for teens, a couple and their younger child, or grandparents to have a peaceful retreat when they need a break from a larger gathering.

Next, we found the lifejackets and water safety kits in the shed and the girls headed out on the water in the peddleboat.  We go back and forth on what we call them, paddle boats/peddle boats either way it was the perfect morning activity on the water!  While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out on the water once the temperatures dip, even if ice hasn’t started to form, the weather was amazing and we were enjoying 18C days!  Albion Lake is very calm, with only a few cottages along the section we were in, with fantastic paddling opportunities and environmentally protected Crown land.

Early morning paddling in the crystal clear water

Lookouts, Lunching & Shopping

After paddling, we headed into Bancroft with the plan to hike up to Eagle’s Nest Lookout, grab lunch in town and check out the shops.  Having only driven through Bancroft, I was surprised to see how much bigger it was than I had thought and the number of shops, restaurants, and cafes it has to offer! 

Even though I know better and to always check the local listing sites before venturing out on any adventure, we hopped in the car ready to see the fall colours!  The trails had unfortunately closed to the public BUT just across the street is a pretty creek and parking area, so we grabbed some lunch and ate by the water instead! Then we got our steps in by checking out the local shops. We explored The Old Tin Shed filled with gifts, local artisans and Christmas goodies and the newly opened Bancroft location of The Chocolate Rabbit, the second location of a favourite we discovered years ago and loved in Lakefield, Ontario.

Creekside picnic lunch in Bancroft
Creekside picnic lunch in Bancroft

No trip to Ontario’s cottage country is complete without at least one stop at Kawartha Dairy so that’s exactly what we did on the way back.  It was our first visit to this location, and we could tell straight away how busy it is in the summer!  After checking out the store and all the clothing, baked goods, coffee roasters and of course dairy, the girls settled on strawberry & pumpkin pie and bubble gum ice cream in waffle cones. Yes, the strawberry & pumpkin pie flavours were my oldest’s pick and on the same cone!  My current favourite is coconut, giving cookie dough a run for its money!

Kawartha Dairy is an absolute must stop on any Ontario cottage vacation

Back at the cottage, we settled back in for an afternoon of Hocus Pocus and a mini candy charcuterie since it was spooky season. Birches by the Beach is the perfect setting with the lake and changing trees as a backdrop, it looked just as magical as the fall movie setting in old Salem.

Perfect spot for watching our favourite fall movie!

Time to plan our next visit!

We loved our quick fall getaway and couldn’t think of anything we were missing for a fall escape.  You can sign into all of your streaming subscriptions on the smart TV and my daughter even taught me how to use the Roku, it really is super easy! While we decided not to have a campfire or light the woodstove, having lucked out with it being so warm, we could tell how cozy and perfect it would be here in the winter too. I can just picture skating on the frozen lake, snowmobiling on the local trails and spending hours playing in the snow. There are so many memories just waiting to be made!

We absolutely recommend booking your getaway now for your an your family and enjoying all that the cottage has to offer in every season!  If you would like to hear more about Birches by the Beach or have any questions about Bancroft and the Ontario cottage rentals in the Haliburton Highlands, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to chat!


Cottage: Birches By The Beach

Region: Haliburton Highlands

Town: Bancroft, ON

Waterfront: Albion Lake

Chat with Christina

Call us at 1-866-323-6698 to chat with Christina about her experience at Birches By The Beach before you book. You won’t be disappointed!

CottageLINK Rental Management
Toll Free: 1-866 323 6698

Our Hours:
Mon-Fri 9-5
Sat-Sun 9-5

Business Address:
PO Box 39036
Columbia PO, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2T 0A7

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