For our second Vancouver walk, Marc and I decided to explore the seawall around Stanley Park. I realise that my first two walks in Vancouver are incredibly obvious for people that live here. But we were just learning our way around the city, so it was really good to walk to these obvious places. We now both have a better idea of Vancouver’s layout.
Stanley Park is amazing! It is so nice to have such a huge area of greenery in the centre(ish) of the city! I loved looking at the massive trees. Plus the views away from the Island are stunning in all directions! On the Western side there are pretty views out to Vancouver Island, and you can count all the huge ships with red bottoms. Then as you go North you can see the Lion’s Gate Bridge, the North Shore of Vancouver and Grouse Mountain. Lastly, as you head East there are more mountain views and then some stunning vistas of Downtown Vancouver.
Before even getting to Stanley Park, we walked along the North side of False Creek. We’d already wandered along the South side of False Creek the previous day, so it was nice to see things from the other side of the water.
On Sunset Beach I noticed that someone had written my name in flowers in the sand! Well…Marc thinks it actually says “Josh”. But I choose to believe it was just the wind blowing a few petals away from the “y” in “Josy”. Thank you whoever you are, friendly Vancouverite, for welcoming me to your city! We also bought ice creams from a stand in Sunset beach because although it is just the start of our official walk, we’d already been exploring and walking for a few hours so I was ready for icecream! Next to the Inukshuk sculpture, we saw that lots of people have tried to balance towers of rocks. I wonder how long they last before birds, strong winds or children knock them over!?
Once we’d been past English Bay, there were far fewer walkers. It seems most people ride bikes around Stanley Park. There were a lot of cyclists!! As usual, we were doing things wrong by using just our legs. Oops. We could see the trees inside Stanley Park up ahead and all the huge ships out to sea to our left, so it really is a lovely walk- even if most people zoom past on wheels.
There is a small, relaxed beach at the entrance to Stanley Park, where we saw a super-still heron (I’ve named him Baxter.) I thought Baxter might have been a pretty statue from afar because he just didn’t move at all. And then suddenly he dipped his beak into the water and pulled back with a fish that was waaay too big for his slender beak! He sort of struggled to swallow the fish because he’d grabbed it at the wrong angle. So he did a sort of twist and swallow manoeuvre to send it down his gullet. After that, Baxter went back to staring at the water, but he seemed less intense as you could see him fidgeting a little compared to his total stillness before.
There are quite a few massive ships and tankers that seem to wait in this area before they visit the port in Vancouver. I counted 17 on our walk. Most of them were still, but after a while one of them started to move slowly towards Vancouver. Actually, it can’t have been that slow, because once it made it around the headland we weren’t quick enough to see where it docked. The vast majority of ships were red, or at least had red bottoms. I wonder if that is just to make it easier to see them out at sea? Or is there one shipping company that just really likes red ships!? We also saw some pretty spring flowers that looked like teeny bells. Do you know what they are? I have no idea!
Pretty soon, I started to be distracted by all the amazing trees! Even on the edge of the park, it is really interesting to see how they grow out of the rocks. Some of them have huge curves as if they had grown for a few metres, then been knocked down on the wind, so started growing in a new direction. It is easy to get a little dizzy by standing just underneath the trees and looking up! Luckily the cycle path was close to the trees so I didn’t look too closely as I didn’t want to get in the way of the cyclists!
As you get to the most Westerly part of Stanley Park, you can climb up some steps to a teahouse. From there you can see the views from slightly higher up. Below are my photos of the lovely beaches through the trees. We came straight back down again to the “third beach,” which was full of sunbathers. This was a Monday afternoon, so there are quite a few people on holiday! Maybe everyone took the day off to bask in the first sunny Monday of summer?
We kept walking around for even better views of the North Shore…
The next landmark is the Siwash Rock. Do most people think this rock looks like a beaver heading to a wedding, wearing a facinator? I can totally see the Beaver nose and buck teeth. Marc couldn’t see the resemblance so I’ll be glad if anyone else can! I mentioned that there weren’t many other walkers BUT there were loooads of cyclists, especially around Siwash Rock. There was a bit of a two-wheel traffic jam as people stopped here to snap a photo before continuing with their rides. I wonder if any of the cyclists can see a Beaver’s face in the rock?
I can totally see why people did stop their bikes here, I mean LOOK AT THAT VIEW! So far Stanley Park has been kicking the ass of the parks in London. It is probably because of these stunning views and the super-clean sea air. I honestly though London parks were hard to beat before I came here!
The beaches on this side of the park were less sandy, so didn’t have so many sunbathers. However they make up for it by being a good place to see goslings. I think it must be because there were quite a few long stretches of shallow water. It’s a safe place for goslings to learn how to be geese. Look at those little fluffy cuties! They weren’t as majestic as Baxter the heron but they were pretty busy finding things to eat in the seaweed.
Just around the next bend we started to see the Lions Gate Bridge. It is huuuge! It looks like there is a pedestrian walkway up there so at some point I’ll walk over with my camera. The views were lovely down below the bridge so they must be amazing from up high!
After the bridge, the views become slightly more industrial. We could see the huge cranes and ships in the ports, as well as what looked like a mini mountain of bright yellow sulphur-powder shining in the sun. It is a little strange to see so much industry right in front of mountains and gorgeous scenery. I suppose in Vancouver where it is pretty in every direction, you have to spoil one view with factories and ports. You just don’t notice these areas around central London as most of the heavy Industry has been pushed out into Kent.
We saw the replica of the Empress of Japan’s dragon figurehead. This is from an English ship, built in 1891 that managed to go between the UK and Canada 315 times before she was scrapped in the 1920s. You can read more about this cool-sounding, speedy ship, and how this figurehead was rescued here.
We walked past the bronze stature of a girl in a wetsuit. When we first came close to her, there was a bright white seagull using her as a perch. However just as we got closer, a young adolescent seagull with all her grey fluff took the older seagull’s place. I actually thought I was taking a seagull-less photo until I looked closely and saw the young gull was actually just about to land in my piccy! We arrived at this side of the park during rush hour for geese. You can see them all heading home in a line after a hard-day goosing about.
There are some pretty views from Brockton Point Lighthouse. Cyclists have to take a different route for this part of the walk so it is quite calm and really interesting to get a good view of the massive ships. Can you see the huge pile of yellow powder in my photo on the right? It was shining gold in the sun, but I am pretty sure it was sulphur.
After Brockton Point Lighthouse, you get the first beautiful views of Downtown Vancouver. To the left of the photo is a huge Disney cruise ship! I am not sure if you can see it, but there were massive mickey mouse shapes on the ship’s chimneys! I am not sure I could cope for a long time on a Mickey Mouse Cruise but it must be popular. The ship was massive! It was similar size to some of Vancouver’s Skyscrapers! Vancouver itself looked beautiful from Stanley Park on such a sunny day. The water was sparkling so that made everything look perfect.
The last section of the walk goes past Dead Mans Island and the Royal Vancouver Yacht club. In the other direction, if you look into the interior of the park there are amazing trees! It is easy to forget that we’ll need to explore a lot more of the interior of this park. For this walk, I mostly took photos outwards, away from the park!
Just as we thought we had seen all the best things on Stanley Island, we met one of the important residents of the Vancouver rowing club. This is Stella the harbour seal. She probably has other names from other locals, but she made our day sooo much better that Stella seems like an appropriate name to me. Look at her pretty spotty tummy!
So that is our first wander around Stanley Island. I realise there is plenty more to see, like the totem poles, aquarium and Beaver lake; but this walk was pretty fun for a first visit! Have you ever walked around Stanley Park? Which side do you like best? The views of the sea, the mountains or the city?