Othello Tunnels

Nestled on the side of the Fraser River sits a little town called Hope. There’s not a whole lot there, and along the one main street we observed a few shop windows boarded up and no longer used for active business. It did not exactly appear to be thriving. We made the decision not to spend too long in Hope itself, because despite the name there didn’t feel like there was a lot of hope in the place. However, one thing Hope is famous for are the Othello Tunnels, which sit within Coquihalla Canyon Park (so not in Hope directly, but about 5km east). The Othello Tunnels are a series of train tunnels, blasted through solid granite in a straight line, put in around the early 1900s, designed to link the Kootenay Region with the BC coast. Canadian Pacific Railway hired an engineer called Andrew McCulloch, who had a thing for Shakespeare (hence the name), to build the railway along this route. They are a true feat of engineering (even I could see that), and were built almost entirely by hand.

Othello Tunnels

Today they are a tourist attraction walkway, set to a backdrop of stunning scenery. Water dripped down off the roof of the tunnels and splashed my face as we walked through. People were riding bicycles through the tunnels – some without lights, which made it a bit tricky for them to see and for us to see them – people were pushing baby prams, elderly people and those with families could all manage this almost totally flat walk.

There are no longer any railway lines laying in the tunnels. Bridges link a couple of the tunnels. The scenery in between each tunnel was stunning as they were cut through mountains alongside the Coquihalla gorge.

Othello Tunnels valley gorge

Most people stopped walking once they got through the tunnels, but M and I continued on down the path a little way to see what else was there. The path continued on alongside the river, but eventually we turned around as it didn’t seem to end, although it was beautiful. This was an easily accessible, relatively flat path, ok for push chairs and probably even wheelchairs, those who can’t walk far, and for anyone interested in some history and seeing amazing engineering. It didn’t take us all that long, but if you are interested in strenuous, exciting walking/hiking then you should probably look elsewhere.

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