Royston’s Seaside Walk offers beautiful views, wildlife, history

BenchsittersIt’s amazing what can be accomplished in the tiniest of communities, as we discovered recently on a trip to the hamlet of Royston, just south of Courtenay. The settlement is home to just over 1,500 residents – and to a spanking new seaside walkway that provides a pretty walk (or jog) along the waterfront.

The Royston seafront walk is a great spot for folks of all ages - this family enjoys a little winter beach time

The Royston seafront walk is a great spot for folks of all ages – this family enjoys a little winter beach time

Although we found it a little confusing as to the actual length and location of the walkway and parking facilities, we decided the simplest plan was to start our adventure at the far south end of Marine Drive and just keep walking.  As it turned out, it was a good decision that provided a delightful outing.

The Marine Drive end of the walk features picnic tables and a large stone fireplace

The Marine Drive end of the walk features picnic tables and a large stone fireplace

The Marine Drive portion of the walkway straggles along beachfront that looks across to the community of Comox.  There are picnic tables and a huge stone fireplace, built as a centennial project and documenting all the youngsters who helped to haul stones from the beach for its construction.

Since 1937 derelict ships of all shapes and sizes have formed a breakwater in the bay

Since 1937 derelict ships of all shapes and sizes have formed a breakwater in the bay

At low tide walkers can continue for 600 metres (656 yards) along the beach to connect up with the level gravel portion of the walkway.  We visited when that was not possible, so detoured up the hill at the end of Marine Drive, and trundled briefly along a roadside trail next to Highway 19A before dipping back down to the waterfront at Lince Road.

The trail is easily accessed and easily traversed

The trail is easily accessed and easily traversed

The level, groomed trail commences at the bottom of Lince and wends its way along for 1.1 kilometres (just under a mile), with delightful views of the water, wildlife and a unique breakwater locally known as the Royston Wrecks.

A history lesson along the way - the story of the Royston Wrecks

A history lesson along the way – the story of the Royston Wrecks

The Royston Wrecks (or ghost ships, as some call them) have a long history in the area – beginning in 1937 wrecked tugs and sailing ships were sunk to create a breakwater for the log booming grounds in the Comox Harbour. The ship graveyard includes a three-masted windjammer built in 1876, a number of five-masted barquentines, a four-masted barque, whaling boats, navy frigates, freighters and tugboats.  While the breakwater and its ship remains certainly can’t be described as beautiful there is a sense of times gone by and wonder at the sight of history slowly sinking into the sea.

From the bottom of Lince Road we ambled north, through the parking area at Hilton Road and all the way along to the end of the trail at Chinook Road.  There is a wheelchair-accessible porta-potty at the parking lot, and the trail is easily navigable for motorized scooters or wheelchairs – it is level, wide and well-groomed.  There are benches at various points for those who need a rest or simply a place to contemplate the natural beauty and wildlife of the area.

Dogs are also welcome on the trail, as long as they are leashed

Dogs are also welcome on the trail, as long as they are leashed

We spent a couple of hours on the trail, although that time can certainly be shortened by parking at the Hilton Road lot and just doing the north end of the walkway.

We are so delighted that what was once an abandoned logging railway grade that was being destroyed by erosion has been rehabilitated for the enjoyment of the general public.

Further information on the Seaside Walk and a map of the trail can be found at:

http://www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/EN/main/community/parks-trails/comox-valley-parks/royston-seaside-trail.html

             wheelchair-lGPS co-ordinates for the trail, beginning at the Hilton Road parking lot, are:

Lat. 49.6524742306177  Long. -124.95285429416503

N 49 39.148  W 124 57.171

Shirley

About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers.
In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.

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