Today was one of those glorious early autumn days: warm – not hot; breezy – not windy; fresh – not humid. I began my trek at the Oak Bay Rec Centre and had a glorious stroll. Oak Bay, with its heritage homes, manicured lawns, tailored gardens and thick arboreal canopy, was the perfect place to walk. Add in Willows Beach and the marina plus the green of the golf course and the attraction for this walker is obvious.
But there are two hidden gems in Oak Bay that make walking here more than special. The first is the network of back alleys. The alleys of Oak Bay are not overwhelmed by trash cans, discarded mattresses or derelict vehicles; they are lined with painted bird houses, twirling whirly-gigs and vegetable gardens (I saw a spaghetti squash just ripe for picking). Some alleys end in a “T”, giving walkers the choice of turning right or left. Others are home to artists’ studios, workshops, old-fashioned carriage houses with haylofts up-top or proper garages housing classic cars. Each alley is a jewel on its own; together they form a beaded necklace, wound through Oak Bay.
And the biggest gemstone hanging from that necklace is Anderson Hill. My favourite approach to Anderson Hill is up an obscured little path leading off Transit Road. As I climbed up, the path narrowed and squeezed between old, lichen-covered rocks. I walked through grasses that were pale yellow and dry; the fallen, leaves crackled under foot. I walked past Garry oaks that have been stunted and twisted from frequent winds. In a few minutes I reached the top and there – before me – was a West Coast panorama of sea and mountains. I took a deep breath and marveled at the wonderful walking adventures we can have here on Southern Vancouver Island.
Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden
View from Anderson Hill, looking south.
View from Anderson Hill, looking east.