Posted by: Silver | March 5, 2011

Ashcroft / Cache Creek

“Neither Ashcroft nor Cache Creek are famous for anything.”

“Cache Creek? Isn’t that the place you just stop at for gas on your way up north?”

I think it would be fair to say that some people were a little surprised at my choice of destination for the first stop on my ‘northern bus tour’. However, the two little towns (they’re about 10km apart, but generally seem to be thought of as a unit) had everything that I needed – a bus stop, a local paper, and someone kind enough to provide me with accommodation – so that was good enough for me. And, as it turned out, they had a whole lot more too.

It is true that the world has maybe bypassed Ashcroft a little since the Trans-Canada Highway did the same, and it is true that Cache Creek’s main raison d’être appears to be servicing travellers heading to or from the north, but this struck me as an entirely appropriate development for a settlement that first came into being as a supply centre for those heading up the Cariboo road in search of gold. What those northbound travellers are missing, however, is an entirely charming little town.

Ashcroft, to my eyes, has managed to pull off the incredibly difficult trick of retaining its ‘Old West’ feel without turning into a tourist-trap facsimile, or foregoing the development necessary for any town that wishes to remain alive. There is an assortment of well cared for heritage buildings, a couple of small but pleasant parks, but also all the necessary amenities of modern life (a hospital, high school and, yes, gas stations). I was most surprised, however, by how attractive I found its setting amongst the desert mesas of the Thompson river valley: as a girl who has openly admitted in these pages to hugging trees, I wasn’t expecting the bare rock and sagebrush to do very much for me, and whilst it’s true that I probably couldn’t see myself living in this sort of landscape long-term, it did have a genuine beauty to it.

Ashcroft and Cache Creek may not be famous, but they do prove that you don’t have to be to be beautiful.

About as touristy as Ashcroft gets: one of the original wagons that took supplies up north during the 19th century gold rush

One of the heritage buildings of Ashcroft, as seen from one of the parks

A delightful little sculpture in Ashcroft's Heritage Park

A panoramic shot especially for everyone who thought that British Columbia was nothing but rain and forests

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