A Countryside Escape from City Life

September 8, 2016

By Guest Blogger Chris Istace


The hustle and bustle of daily life in the big city keeps us running at a fast pace but sometimes we dream of a time when things were a little simpler and a little slower. A place where you could stroll down to the river and go for a dip or swing by the pub to enjoy a pint in the garden after picking up suppers menu items at the farmers’ market.


That time and place exists right now. Just take a short drive south of Nanaimo to the countryside community of Cedar. The region is also featured in Tourism Nanaimo’s Top 10 Things To Do list via the Cedar Yellow Point Artisan Trail.


Cedar-by-the-Sea (credit: Chris Istace)

When the hot days of summer are upon us and you are looking for something to do, why not give one of my favorite go to day trips a try?


My day starts out by swinging by the well renowned Cedar Farmers’ Market.  The market runs from 10am – 2pm on Sundays throughout summer and is located on a large open field at 2313 Yellow Point Road, right next to the Crow & Gate Pub. I typically pick up some fresh farm foods and sample some tasty sweet baking (of course taking some for snacking later). Take the time to explore all the local artisan booths and while doing so there is often live music to enjoy as a relaxing background bonus experience.


Yummy treats galore at the CFM (credit: Chris Istace)

Save this address, as you will be returning to this spot later in the day but for now you are heading to stop number two in my super summer Sunday in the Cedar Yellow Point Region.


The second stop of the day is a fun adventure of exploring the Nanaimo River, west of Highway #1 down Nanaimo River Road.  The drive will take you roughly 15 min from the market, heading for roughly 475 Nanaimo River Road. Once you have almost made it to the address watch for a large yellow steel road gate on your left and a clear cut for the overhead hydro lines. Park along the roadside and from here and start hiking down to the river below.  Take your sense of adventure, good trail runners and last but not least your swimsuit. You will find the river down a steep embankment with a series of trails leading to the massive boulders and rocky ledges that line the exciting river.






Once at the river explore the boulders and unique diversity of rock shaped and carved by years of raging water with so much to discover. The water is crystal clear with vibrant emerald pools perfect for swimming in during the hot summer days. Extreme care should be taken for safety as any natural river area has underwater hazards and of course always changing flows and currents. Have fun but play smart.


Be a safe swimmer! (credit: Chris Istace)
Be a safe swimmer! (credit: Chris Istace)

Once you have had your fill of swimming and exploring the river head it’s time to head back to the car. Drive back to where the Cedar Market was held at 2313 Yellow Point Road but this time drive past the field along the lane way to the local favorite watering hole, the Crow and Gate Pub.


The "Crow", as the locals know it (credit: Chris Istace)
The “Crow”, as the locals know it (credit: Chris Istace)

The Crow and Gate is a hidden gem tucked away from the big city and bright lights but that is what you would expect of an authentic British pub. The Crow and Gate was the very first countryside neighborhood pub in British Columbia and has since become a well know landmark. The amazing British pub classic style menu favorites like hearty seafood chowder, crab cakes or Shepherd’s Pie will be sure to fill you up after your fun afternoon down at the river.  They have an extensive selection of beers but I’m a bit biased to the locally brewed Merridale Cider.


Mmm. Merridale Cider in the garden (credit: Tourism Nanaimo)

Equally matched to its wonderful food and beer selection are the outside grounds and gardens of the Crow and Gate. Well manicured creating a magical escape the pub itself and accompanying outside patio are a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy once you are done your meal.


Enchanting entrance to the Crow & Gate Pub (credit: Chris Istace)

Just a short drive from the fast pace of the Island Highway and city of Nanaimo, I hope this escape to the Cedar region is one you can experience for yourself. Get out there and #ExploreNanaimo!



‘Til next time,




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