It’s another fine and sunny day in the city. But despite your best intentions, you’re finding it hard to get outside. Need some motivation? Lace up your comfy footwear, fill your water bottle and meet up with the friendly folks at Walk Richmond, a series of free guided walking excursions around the area.
What’s it all about?
Launched in 2006 and aimed at almost every age and fitness level, Walk Richmond is a roster of regular and highly welcoming local strolls. Each of the routes––usually in a park, green space or along a dedicated trail––lasts for around an hour. They’re the perfect way to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air with like-minded striders.
Running several times a month for most of the year, the walks are held at a revolving roster of different locations. Popular spots include Garry Point Park, Railway Greenway, Minoru Park, London Farm and more––you can check out the upcoming dates and locations here.
Best of all, the walks don’t cost a penny and there’s no need to reserve in advance: just turn up, join the group and start strolling. An easy way for locals to explore their own city, they’re also a great hidden gem activity for in-the-know Richmond visitors who are keen to explore the area.
What are they like?
With time to spare on a recent summer evening, we hopped on the bus to Steveston and quickly found the designated meeting spot for the 7:00pm Garry Point Park/West Dyke Walk. One of the program’s most popular routes, a gaggle of 30 or so walkers was already convening, comprising regulars and first-timers reflecting a wide range of different ages.
Welcomed by our smiling guide, Gwendolyn––she leads most of the tours alongside a handful of volunteers––we started with a few warm-up stretches to ensure that our muscles were ready to roll. My hamstrings, in particular, needed this gentle but essential persuasion.
We were also introduced to a couple of guests. Most Walk Richmond events are simply guide-led strolls where you go at your own pace and check out the scenery en route. But once-in-a-while, a theme is included and a guest or two is invited along to chat with the walkers. Our tour had a birding theme, complete with special guests from Birds Canada and the Richmond Art Gallery, which was staging a nature-themed art exhibition.
And we’re off!
With the golden hour sun illuminating the scattered clouds and a refreshing light breeze rippling across the shoreline, we headed off at a brisk pace. Weaving through the park’s lush Kuno Japanese Garden, then skirting along the waterfront, we passed stretches of log-studded sand and gazed across the glittering ocean at the hazy peaks on the horizon.
But the visuals weren’t just about the scenery. Stopping at the park’s western tip, we gathered to hear Eve from Birds Canada explaining that the critters darting fast and low over our heads were swallows––and they are here because the City of Richmond has built 41 inviting nest boxes especially for them.
We heard more about the swallows––plus the barn owls, red-winged blackbirds and Anna’s hummingbirds that also reside in the area––at our next stop near the park’s Scotch Pond area. As if on cue, a huge great blue heron flapped slowly over our heads here, triggering several gasps from the group.
Hitting the Trail
At this point, the park connects to the West Dyke Trail, one of Richmond’s favourite outdoor hangouts. Joining families, joggers and a cyclist or two, we were soon heading north along this wide gravel track. With the marsh-fringed shoreline on our left and a bank full of wildflowers unfurling on our right, the lofty North Shore Mountains loomed into view ahead of us.
Everyone had found a comfortable pace by this stage. Some were streaking ahead to raise their heart rates, others were cruising along and chatting with partners and fellow walkers. There was even a slowly sauntering group at the back that was taking its time to snap photos of the vistas, the flowers and the birds––including a kingfisher perched on a branch.
Soon, we reached the turning point on the West Dyke Trail and it was time to head back to the spot where our walk began almost an hour ago. There was time for a group photo here plus a short cool down stretch led by Gwendolyn. Our guests also imparted some final bird-based information (we made a mental note to visit that art gallery exhibition) before we all said our farewells and dispersed.
With our bodies well-exercised and our cameras well-used, we’d had an invigorating time in the fresh evening air. Strolling back to our transit bus stop in the village, we were already planning our next Walk Richmond excursion––in fact, the next one on the schedule was only a few days away.
If you go:
Running throughout the year, whatever the weather, Walk Richmond guided strolls are free and there’s no need to book a slot. Check here for upcoming dates and locations. For additional information––including announcements on any themed walks––visit the program’s dedicated Facebook page. Finally, make sure you dress appropriately and bring a water bottle for your walk.
Last Updated on July 26, 2023 by Tourism Richmond