Island Adventures: Winter Revitalization at Cattle Point

by Jesse Holth – 

Need a way to beat those post-holiday blues? Ring in the new year at Cattle Point!

Nothing beats fresh, wintery ocean air – just make sure to bundle up! At this time of year, the grass is lush and green. The vernal pools are also full: these temporary pools fill with water once the rainy season starts, providing habitat for a diverse and unique ecosystem.

It’s a great place to do some winter storm-watching – gusting winds and strong weather fronts create a beautiful and invigorating spectacle, with waves crashing along the shore. You’ll also have the opportunity to spot some marine life, usually on the calmer days. Seals, otters, sea lions, herons, oystercatchers, killdeer and other wildlife all frequent this rocky outcrop.

In winter, the majestic Olympic mountain range appears in crisp definition, and the snow-capped peaks are simply gorgeous. If you happen to catch a beautiful sunset, the open sky provides a perfect venue to witness the bright pinks, purples and oranges glowing in the frosty air.

Any geology buffs out there? Cattle Point has a wealth of fascinating rock features, including erratics – rocks that were left behind from ice age glaciers. Dragged along with glacial movement, they hail from distant geological terrain and therefore look somewhat out of place. See if you can spot them! In some of the bedrock, you can also see striations – long, parallel lines. These marks were created by the movement of glaciers, as meltwater streams carved grooves in the rock.

Fun fact: Cattle Point gets its name from an interesting history. In the 1800s, it was a drop-off point for cattle – they were pushed overboard so they could swim ashore!

You can also explore Uplands Park, a Garry oak meadow just across the street. Or, if you take the stairs on the right (just beyond the first car park area) they’ll take you down along a promenade towards Willows Beach. This sandy beach is popular with families, and there is a playground in the adjacent park.

If it’s calling for clear skies, take note – Cattle Point is a designated dark sky preserve. This means it’s the perfect spot for star gazing, and you can even join the Royal Astronomical Society to observe the night skies. Don’t forget about this special place for meteor showers, full moons and other astronomical events!

There are a number of wonderful viewpoints, and benches located all around Cattle Point. You’ll be able to see some Victoria landmarks, like the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Discovery Island. If it’s not too cloudy, you may even find the ubiquitous Mount Baker dominating the skyline.

Cattle Point is ideal for winter rejuvenation, breathing in the brisk ocean air, and taking advantage of storm-watching season. Just remember to be prepared: it can be wet and muddy if there has been heavy rain, and you’ll want to wear your hat, mittens and scarf to keep out that winter chill!

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