Vancouver: Stanley Park

Today I decided to spend walking around Stanley Park which covers 1,000 acres at the tip of downtown Vancouver. There is so much to see in the park from the seawall walk (8.8 km), several beaches, Beaver Lake and the Lost lagoon, ‘monument’ trees and many trails amongst cedar, hemlock, and fir trees which lead you away from the madding crowds into the cool quiet forest.

I took the advice of a couple of acquaintances and visited the Aquarium. Now I like aquariums where they have huge tanks filled with tropical fish and tanks with sharks etc in them, but I am not a big fan of pools with dolphins or larger creatures. Having heard about the beluga whales I thought I ought to have a look myself. It is a reasonable aquarium, with some extremely interesting and informative exhibits and I loved the sea anemone and the jelly fish. As for the belugas and the dolphins – it still doesn’t seem fair to keep them in such small pools. I have the same reaction when I see bears in a zoo, when all they do is walk up and down, up and down shaking their heads. It just makes me sad.

After the zoo I walked up to Beaver Lake (originally called “Akka-Chu” Little Lake, by Aboriginal Peoples) via the Rose Garden and the South Creek trail which leads you past a stand of 130 year old Douglas Firs. The lake is slowly changing to a bog ecosystem and will eventually return to the forest floor. The introduction of water lilies in 1930 may be hastening this process. In fact it was noticeably smaller than it was in 2005. Found a lovely Carolina Wood Duck hiding amongst the lower limbs of a shore-side tree and mallards and shoveler ducks dabbled for vegetation and insects amongst the lilies and bog buckbean. Great Blue Herons patiently watched for sticklebacks and frogs.

Following the Lake trail across the Stanley Park Causeway (the road which leads to Lion’s Gate Bridge) and along Lovers Walk passing the Art Installation and one of the Big trees you reach Ferguson Point where you have a wonderful view over English Bay, Third Beach and Siwash Rock. I wandered up to Third Beach where they have public toilets and a concession stand, which was closed, so my hope of a nice cup of coffee was rapidly dashed. I re-joined the seawall walk here and carried on counter-clockwise along this as far as Second Beach. These are the two only accessible sandy beaches in the park perfect for swimming and watching the sun set.

Passing the swimming pool at Second Beach I made my way along Ceperley Meadow and along the southern edge of the Lost lagoon where I saw my first bald eagle sitting calmly on a log floating in the centre of the lagoon. There were several swans, mallards, coots and two Great Blue Herons near the shoreline, one of which walked so close to me I could have reached out and touched him. Crossing under the causeway I returned to the Devonian Harbour Park and back to the Westin hotel in time to view a lovely sunset.

We ate at Ciao Bella – Arabiatta pasta and mixed green salad washed down with a lovely Montepulciano D’abruzzo. Sadly no discount tonight though.

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I live in the UK, but when I was younger I spent several years travelling the world followed by a period living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

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