by Gael Hannan –
In this time of physical distancing and park closures, we are lucky that the Saanich Peninsula is criss-crossed with accessible and wide hiking trails. It also has many beautiful country roads and one of my favourite hikes is in my own, extended neighbourhood, a route covering Wain, Downey, Madrona and West Saanich roads.
From my home on Wain Road, it’s a one-kilometre walk down to West Saanich and a short dogleg south to Smith’s Produce, which marks the entrance to the rolling hills of Downey Road and its well-treed properties and unique houses. Downey has a number of hobby farms where vegetables and wine-vines share the land with horses, sheep, goats, chickens and the occasional yappy dog.
Every few houses or so, a produce stand sits empty, a reminder of how the pandemic has changed our lives. Last year, I salivated over flowers, veggies and home-made vinegars and sometimes I’d drive back later to buy them, using the local honour system of money stuffed into a tin can. The numbered property signs are works of art and some tell me that an artist does indeed live there – a painter, an architect, a bronze worker.
When Downey reaches Madrona Drive, it’s time for a break. The beach access view takes my breath away every time. Today, I sit on the bench to enjoy some water with my view (although I often forget to drink, returning home with an almost full bottle).
Continuing north along Madrona, the real estate has changed from Downey’s spacious properties to cheek-by-jowl houses lining the shore of Saanich inlet. The old pastel-coloured cottages with quaint gardens now share the coastline with stunning and modern West Coast-design houses. Distinctive property gates line the road and through them, I get glimpses of the water and the far shore.
The last three kilometres are back up Wain Road, but first I make a quick stop at the exquisite R.O. Bull memorial park and its old growth Douglas fir and western red cedar.
I arrive home satisfied after an invigorating walk of Saanich sights and scents.
THINGS TO NOTE FOR
• Always walk facing traffic – although there are very few cars on this route.
• If you use hearing devices (as I do), wear them to be alert to any sounds of warning – or birds
• If your own “hood” doesn’t appeal to you, try a hood or two over.