Tag Archives: Silvermine

Noordhoek Peak via Steenberg Ridge & Panorama Path

Looking towards False Bay and Simonstown

The direct path from Silvermine Dam to the Blackburn Ravine view point platform is a regular for me, being part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail and a quick and easy way to this popular lookout point. It was great therefore to join Meridian Hiking Club to take a slightly different route up Steenberg Ridge, to walk at a slightly higher level overlooking the Constantia Valley, the Cape Flats and False Bay. After the short climb from the parking area up to the ridge it is fairly level and it is an easy walk to across the top. The path is clear and most of the invasive vegetation has been removed from this area now,

Pausing for photographers to catch up

including the stark, dead pine trees that marked the top of the ridge for a long time. The dead logs are still lying around but the fynbos is looking particularly good and looking down to the Silvermine Dam into the Protea covered Silvermine Valley one has to appreciate how lucky we are to live in the Cape. At the end of the ridge path drops down to cross the Elephants Eye path and link up with the jeep track to the top of Blackburn. The view over Hout Bay, as always, was magnificent. Being a slightly cooler day than we have been used to, with a cool wind blowing and knowing that the views could be admired while we were walking, we did not stay long and retraced our steps to take the path up to the peak above Blackburn Ravine. Strangely, although this is a fairly prominent peak, with a stiff climb to the summit, no map I have consulted gives it a name. At the summit, we paused allow some of the stragglers to catch up the group come together. It does not matter where you stop on this walk, there is superb view in all directions. The higher level allows

Silvermine Valley

you to see Hout Bay, Table Mountain, Constantiaberg, Chapmans Peak, False Bay and the Kalk Bay and Muizenberg Peaks from the same point. The path down from this peak is known as the Panorama

Hout Bay from the Panorama path

Path, for good reason. The main view is over Hout Bay but it is scenic overload. At the next convenient outlook point we stopped for a tea break and to just enjoy the setting. I am not sure if it was just protected from the wind or the weather was being kind to us as we sat to enjoy our refreshments and the warmth of the sun. On an impossible rocky outcrop, not far from where we sat perched two fledgling Rock Kestrels. We watched as they gathered themselves and eventually launched in to flight, encouraged by a small

Orange Breasted Sunbird that buzzed around them. It is some time since I had done this route had anticipated that the walk from where we had tea to Noordhoek Peak, was going to be very short. There were a few more ups and downs than I remembered and time to enjoy the quiet of this fabulous area with the ever changing rock formations and vegetation. After Noordhoek Peak the path comes out on the jeep track where hikers need to be careful of the ever present mountain bikers coming down at speed. It is better for hikers to get off the road on to the adjacent hiking paths as soon as possible. We found the short cut to the Amphitheatre path on the opposite side of the Silvermine Valley to where we started. This is also a path that I have used often and is particularl

Chapmans Peak in the distance

y impressive for the striking layered rock formations near shelter rock. Silvermine Dam and the car park was now in view, although this is also one of those paths that take a bit long

er than one expects, but the end was in sight, just in time for lunch and quick trip down to the Red Herring in Noordhoek for a beer and a snack basket.

For guided day hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank: frank@slackpackersa.co.za – Cell: 082-8824388

 

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Noordhoek Beach to Silvermine, via Chapman’s Peak

I have probably written about this one before, but being one of my favourite hikes it is worth revisiting. The route up Chapman’s Peak was one of the few new paths that were created, specifically for the Hoerikwaggo Trail trekking route, and includes some of the most spectacular views in the whole of the Cape Peninsula.

Sunday was cool but clear, except for some wispy cloud on the tops of the mountain peaks. The wind was moderate, in the south east.  Ten of us, we met at Silvermine Dam to shuttle cars to the start at Noordhoek beach, with the plan to walk back up Chapman’s Peak to Silvermine. The idea of a swim in the dam after a long hike is always a good incentive.

The trail starts with a short walk across the beach towards the rock to your right to find the gap in the dune foliage that indicates the start of the boardwalk. The boardwalk has been constructed over this section to protect the dunes from erosion and provide a comfortable start to the trail as it climbs up to Chapman’s Peak Drive. Steep  wooden steps on the other side of the road lift hikers up a level to start the gradual trek up the abrupt slopes of this iconic summit.

Strangely, although it is continuously up hill, the path has been so well designed that it is not often that you feel you are on a continuous steep incline. There is some gradual contouring and a few very short scrambles and a ridge or two to negotiate, but provided you are not in a rush (and we were not), it is a reasonable hour and half walk to the top. There are plenty of places to stop to admire the views and many photo opportunities that provide an additional excuse to rest. Looking back at Noordhoek  Beach, looking forward to Hout Bay, looking across towards False Bay, South towards Cape Point or up to the summit are all part of the package. The clouds swirling, appearing and disappearing  across the various peaks and valleys added to the spectacle.

Some of the group were a bit faster than others, but we all met at the summit of Chapman’s Peak for a well-deserved rest and a dig in to the various tea goodies that everyone had brought along. Although the route is steep, the height exposure is very moderate, with the path set mostly well back.

From Chapman’s Peak, the path down in to the saddle is clear and easy going, with large stands of Proteas on either side. The orange breasted sunbirds were out in full force on the day, staying still only for enough time for to get the camera switched on and almost focused, before flitting off without the shot being captured.

As the descent in to the saddle comes to an end, Silvermine Ridge looms high above to the east. You look up and the legs already feel weary at the prospect of trekking up to it’s imposing highpoint. Quite a bit higher than Chapman’s Peak, the path to the ridge is a long slow trek. There are no challenging climbs and except for two short rock bands, no scrambles, but for the next hour and a half you will be walking up hill.

At last the white concrete beacon, indicating a high point on the ridge, comes in to view and a welcome rest for a dip in to the lunch box. We had made fairly good time, having started at about 08h30, we were above Silvermine Valley shortly after 13h15.

From here we followed the jeep track for a short while (beware of fast oving mountain bikers) before turning off on to a path leading to the ridge overlooking  Silvermine Valley. It was one of those days that the mist swirls in and out, revealing the beauty of the valley briefly before covering it again with cloud. There are some amazing rock formations on this route, as well as a impressive variety of proteas, ericas and restios along with other fynbos species, including an occasional blue disa, gladioli and pelargoniums.

At last the dam emerged out of the mist and as if inviting us for a swim the cloud cleared and the late summer sun showed that it still had some power. The walk ended with a very welcome swim – good end to another great hike in the Table Mountain chain.

For guided Table Mountain day hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank: frank@slackpackersa.co.za

Meridian Hiking Club – Noordhoek to Silvermine

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Silvermine River Walk

 

Silvermine Dam

– approximately 1½ hours one way – 2½ hours circular walk

The start of this easy ramble is close to the main entrance of the Silvermine section of Table Mountain National Park. At the top of Ou Kaapseweg (Old Cape Road) on the right hand side, travelling from Cape Town towards Fish Hoek and Noordhoek, turn left just after the pay point. Park in the open parking area. If you don’t want to do the return walk you will need to shuttle vehicles so that you have a car parked near the dam at the end of the walk.

Head down towards the river and you will soon see the signs marking the start. The route is approximately three kilometers in total, broken into two sections. The first two kilometers, from the gate to the dam follow the course of the river. This is a perennial stream which flows very strongly after the winter rains. The path is good, with a small amount of rough path in two or three places. There are board walks over some of the wetter areas. Some of the walk is in open area, other parts of the walk are under a canopy of Keurboom trees that have established themselves as pioneer plants in the wake of the fire of 2000. There is a beautiful small waterfall close to the end of this section, before the path crosses the cycle track close to the dam. Turn left at on the road below the dam wall to get on to the second section or right to go to the picnic areas and car park.

The second section of approximately one kilometer, is a circular route around the dam. This section is almost entirely on boardwalk and is wheelchair friendly, provided the wheel chair can be pushed (i.e. it may be difficult for people in wheelchairs to propel themselves in some places). The dam was built between 1918 & 1920 and is only dam in the mountain chain where people are allowed to swim – so it is worth taking a costume with you. The vegetation changes slightly here with more reeds, restios and grasses, but also ericas and proteas. Follow the path around the end of the dam and back along the boardwalk, past a number of built picnic sites. Fires are allowed here during winter but not in the summer ‘fire season’. Shade trees have been planted and encouraged around the picnic areas.

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