Return to Berryville & Beyond
By Bob Tagert
Return to Berryville & Beyond
As the leaves began to turn color this past October we thought we would take a final drive west to the Virginia countryside before the yellow and red leaves turned to brown and started to fall. To be honest, we weren’t impressed with any of the vistas. Maybe we were a little too early. It was worth the drive in any case.
In addition to taking a drive through Virginia horse and wine country, we were on a mission to repay a debt. About five years ago we visited the beautiful Waypoint House Bed and Breakfast owned by Rachel and Jonathan Worsley. During our stay the four of us consumed a bottle of their Bones Virgin Island Rum. It was great and we promised to return with a bottle of one of our favorite whiskeys…Copper Fox Original Rye. We accomplished our mission and had a beautiful drive along the way.
There are three options to get to Berryville and two involve dealing with road construction. The first is I-66 and the second is Route 7, Leesburg Pike. The third is the Dulles Access road to the Greenway, to Route 7. We opted for I-66 on the way out and Route 7 for the return trip.
The construction along I-66 is progressing nicely and except for a couple of early merges, the traffic is not too terribly bad, except during rush hour. After a couple of slowdowns, we picked up Route 50 west and set our sights on the mountains in the distance. Soon three lanes became two and then one lane. After crossing Route 15 we came to the charming town of Aldie. Here you will find the historic Aldie Mill. I remember driving my dad’s 1965 Chevy Impala to Aldie…and the car was new. This classic town hasn’t changed much at all except for the addition of the Little Apple Pastry Shop and the remake of the Aldie General Store & Cafe. Great places to stop for a snack.
Continuing on Route 50 we passed farms, fields and new housing projects. We eventually reached the town of Middleburg – horse country – including the Upperville Horse Park, past the towns of Upperville and Paris. All of these places are worth a stop. The Upperville Colt and Horse Show is the oldest and most prestigious horse show in America. Established in 1853, the event is held on the site of Grafton Farm, one of the properties adjacent to Route 50, and known for stately oak trees and good grass footing.
As Route 50 becomes a four-lane highway again, at Paris we continue west over the Shenandoah River. Soon after crossing the Shenandoah we made a right turn on Millwood Road to take us to the small town of Millwood. The first thing you will notice on Millwood Road is the stone fence and the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center sign. The Center is a unique and special place. It is the only wildlife teaching hospital in northern Virginia. The staff and volunteers of BRWC work to care for native wildlife by integrating veterinary medicine, rehabilitation, education and research. For more information, check out their web site.
About another mile or so you will come to the very small town of Millwood. Millwood is home to many of Clarke County’s most historic sites including the Burwell-Morgan Mill, Carter Hall, The Greenway Historic District, Long Branch, Old Chapel and the River House. The Burwell-Morgan grist mill was built about 1785 by General Daniel Morgan and Lt. Col. Nathaniel Burwell, who both served in the American Revolution. The Mill is only open to the public on weekends but is worth a visit.
We realized that we were hungry so we visited the Locke Store for a sandwich. This store has been here for decades and I even met the grandson of a previous owner in the parking lot. He had to be in his 60’s. Their food is the real deal. Everything is made in house and cut in house. We ordered the chicken club sandwich and adjourned to a picnic table at the Mill. The sandwich was big enough for two and went very well with the Australian Sauvignon Blanc and Route 11 chips.
Leaving Millwood we turned right on Route 255 to Route 340 and into Berryville. As we enter town Waypoint House is one block over at 211 South Church Street. Although it is a historic house, it offers modern style and convenience coupled with old-fashioned hospitality. Rachael and Jonathon are perfect hosts – that is why we are bringing the bottle of Copper Fox Rye. As Jonathan told us, when the pandemic hit they closed for about three months from not knowing what to expect and the absence of folks traveling. Since they have reopened they have seen a rebound in business.
During the down time, they both noticed how most folks were eating at home. The two decided to open up Presto Dinners, a concept for the times. Rachael cooks up dinners made from scratch, freezes them and they are available when you are ready for a no fuss- home cooked meal.
Berryville makes for a great base of operation to explore the northern Shenandoah Valley with Winchester, Virginia to the west and Charlestown, West Virginia to the north east. Berryville is a “throwback” town where there are as many homes on Main Street as businesses and all the businesses are home grown except for the ACE Hardware store.
One of the main attractions in Berryville is the Barns of Rose Hill, a performing arts venue and community center located downtown. The venue was formerly two historic dairy barns from the early 20th century that have been restored and renovated in 2011 into one unique building with superb acoustic engineering and modern amenities. My traveling partner’s favorite store – Hip and Humble – is right across from the referenced ACE and is an adventure in itself to check out.
Leaving Berryville we took Route 7 back. This route takes you towards the Shenandoah River and Veramar Vineyards, one of Virginia’s best wineries (try their Malbec if they have any). You will also pass Nalls Farm Market…you can’t miss it.
The last part of our journey took us toward Leesburg where we stayed on Route 7 and road construction on the other side of Leesburg. My advice would be to get on the Dulles Greenway to get home and avoid the construction.
November is a perfect time of the year to take a road trip westward. The leaf peepers are mostly gone and fall is finally in the air.