False Bay is the ideal portal to some of the most delightful walking to be found in the Western Cape
Hiking the Peninsula
False Bay is the ideal portal to some of the most delightful walking to be found in the Western Cape.
From here there are hikes, walks and strolls to suit everyone – seaside, Vleiside, gentle inclines through forests, steep tracks with views or even rock walls for climbers. The time allocation we give is very approximate, giving time to stop and gaze around you. Before setting out on any walk or hike, make sure you know the route, take a map, water and, if you’re planning to be out for more than an hour or so, something to nibble. Wear and hat and sunscreen and, if you’re heading up the mountain, always wear suitable shoes and have a jersey or jacket with you. Maps of many of these walks can be downloaded free from http://www.slingsbymaps.com
All the walks (and more than 20 others) are marked on “Silvermine – the map” and the routes are described on the reverse of it. The map, one of the series of five walking maps that covers the Peninsula from Table Mountain to Cape Point, is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online from http://www.slingsbymaps.com or from Kirstenbosch and better bookshops and sports stores. For more ideas of gentle walks further afield consult “Walks with a Fat Dog”, by Peter and Maggie Slingsby.
Muizenberg Catwalk (½ – 1 hour)
An easy walk that anyone can do, but check the tides before you set out – at high tide you could encounter a bit of sea spray!
Start on the seaside of Muizenberg Station. The walk stays on the seaward side of the railway line and offers excellent whale and dolphin watching opportunities as well as birds and rockpool life.
Across the line is the historical mile, with many interesting buildings. Walk as far as St James and Danger Beach (2km) and return by train if you prefer. A free map of this walk is available from www.slingsbymaps.com – “Walks with a Fat Dog” has a full description.
Zandvlei (2 hours)
Another easy walk, where you’re allowed to take your dog.
Start at the bottom of Windermere Road on the eastern side of the vlei, near the entrance to the Zandvlei caravan park, and continue around the edge of the vlei in a clockwise direction. Beyond Lakeside Station (2km) you need to retrace your steps (4km in all).
The bird life on the vlei is rich and varied, and you’ll be able to watch sailors, wind-surfers and canoeists as well. A free map of this walk is available from www.themaps.co.za – “Walks with a Fat Dog” has a full description.
Silvermine Plateau (5 hours)
A tough walk that starts off Boyes Drive, halfway between Muizenberg and Lakeside. The walk climbs steeply up the mountain next to the old Lakeside quarries; from the summit you can ascend Muizenberg Peak and descend to Boyes Drive via Peck’s Valley. Alternatively, you could explore the Silvermine plateau and exit past the waterfall to the parking area at Silvermine (east). It’s strongly recommended that you take a map on this walk; “Silvermine – the map” is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online from www.themaps.co.za
Peck’s Valley (5 hours)
Another tough walk that starts off Boyes Drive, above the Muizenberg Police Station. The walk begins at a gateway through the retaining wall. Stone steps take you up the valley, with spectacular views across False Bay. At the summit you could turn right to the Silvermine Plateau path mentioned above, or left to Muizenberg Cave and St James Peak. It’s strongly recommended that you take a map on this walk; “Silvermine – the map” is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online from www.themaps.co.za
Bailey’s Kloof and Mimetes Valley (3 hours)
This tough hike starts off Boyes Drive more-or-less opposite the Muizenberg Station clock tower. It’s a steep but well-constructed path with spectacular views and beautiful fynbos. Notable plants are the golden pincushion trees or kreupelhout (Leucospermum conocarpodendron), the tree mimetes (Mimetes fimbriifolius) and the rare green erica, Erica urna-viridis. When you meet the gravel track either return the way you came or turn south on the track and, after 1km, take a hard left down onto the Hilltop path – it will take you back to your starting point on Boyes Drive. You’ll definitely need a map for this walk – “Silvermine – the map” is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online from www.themaps.co.za
“Old Mule Path” (2 hours)
The so-called “Old Mule Path” is the gentlest ascent of the Kalk Bay mountains. Starting from Boyes Drive above St James the path contours slowly up to Ou Kraal as the views of False Bay open out to your left. At Ou Kraal descend left to Wandering Willy’s Weary Wait, a small weir with huge old wild almond trees. From here you can either re-trace your steps or turn left and descend the Ou Kraal track to Boyes Drive. It’s strongly recommended that you take a map on this walk; “Silvermine – the map” is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online from www.themaps.co.za
The Amphitheatre and the Spes Bona Forests (4 hours)
From Boyes Drive take either the Ou Kraal or the Old Mule Track to Wandering Willy’s (see previous walk) and then the stone steps of Echo Valley up to Kroon se Bos (aka “Amazon Forest”) where there is a delightful picnic clearing. At the head of the valley cross right around the sinkhole and ascend to the Amphitheatre, a fascinating feature with indigenous trees and concealed (but unsafe) caves. Take one of the northerly paths over the ridge of Ridge Peak and you will come to the head of Spes Bona valley. Descend the valley along the boardwalks that protect this magical forest and you will join the end of the jeep track from where your path zig-zags down to Ou Kraal and your starting point. It’s strongly recommended that you take a map on this walk; “Silvermine – the map” is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online from www.themaps.co.za
Muizenberg – St James Hillside (Time: 50 minutes) Distance: 1,5 km Route: One-way Dogs allowed
Some wonderful views of the longest beach in Cape Town. This walk requires a little bit of effort at the beginning and the going is somewhat rough underfoot, so wear the right shoes.
The history and botany of the area is fascinating. Either stroll back along Boyes Drive (1,1 km) or have a car waiting at the end.
On Boyes Drive, at a point directly opposite the clock tower on Muizenberg Station. Some crude steps go straight up the mountain almost opposite a break in the fence, where a path comes up from the public gardens below.
If you leave another car at the end, it should be parked just beyond No. 110 Boyes Drive.
Climb up the steep slope from Boyes Drive for three or four minutes, before reaching a T – junction. Take a welcome rest and turn left towards Simon’s Town. Another ten minutes of gentle uphill climbing will bring you to a fork in the path, at a flat rock slab. Keep right and slightly up, passing some steep steps on the right some three minutes further on.
You are now in Bailey’s Kloof.
Look down on Bailey’s Cottage, a thatched-roof abode almost in the sea. It once belonged to Sir Abe Bailey (1864-1940), who featured prominently as a mining magnate and politician around the turn of the century. His grave, on a circular podium, can be seen about 50m below Boyes Drive.
The path soon takes you to under a rock overhang, where Simon’s Town suddenly comes into view. Five minutes on, the upward climb mercifully ends and the path starts a series of zigzags, back down to the road.
First two sharp zigzags, then a long, straight level stretch, followed by four more zigzags to bring you just below a cliff face and overhead cave.
Don’t be tempted to cross the river at this point. Do yet another two zigzags before doing so.
Spill back onto the road alongside the river.
Points of Interest
You are looking down on the very spot where the Battle of Muizenberg took place two centuries ago. It’s hard to imagine that this peaceful little corner of False Bay could have been the scene of such conflict.
Picture eighteen English warships, with sails set like bulging chests, pounding the Dutch troops on the shore, The Dutch fell back and dug in at a place which consequently became known as Retreat.
This battle was of immense significance in South African history, for it changed 150 years of Dutch occupation to 150 years of British domination.
The Silvermine Reserve above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay is a treasury of wonderful walks
The Silvermine River Walk and the Reservoir Circuit are gentle, leafy strolls;
Noordhoek Peak, Constantiaberg and the Elephant’s Eye walks take you to the heights that look across to the north or to Hout Bay;
Silvermine amphitheatre and Silvermine valley, Nellie’s Pool circuit and the Crassula Path take you into the heart of rich and beautiful fynbos;
Steenberg Ridge and Steenberg Peak give you unexpected views of the Peninsula the walks across the reserve that bring you to Kalk Bay Peak and the rim of False Bay are breathtaking.
All these and other walks (more than 20) are marked on “Silvermine – the map” and they are described on the reverse of it. The map, one of the series of five walking maps that covers the Peninsula from Table Mountain to Cape Point is endorsed by the Table Mountain National Park and can be purchased online fromhttp://www.slingsbymaps.com or from Kirstenbosch and better bookshops and sports stores. For more ideas of gentle walks further afield consult “Walks with a Fat Dog”, by Peter and Maggie Slingsby.
The Peninsula Ramblers Hiking Club is based in Cape Town, South Africa. The Club is run by volunteers and would not exist without the support and participation of its members. Our aim is simple: to get out into the fresh air and beauty of our magnificent Cape mountains – and beyond – as often as possible, while at the same time doing whatever we can to help protect the pristine areas we visit.
We lead day hikes on weekends, and also regular longer trails, throughout the year.Visitors are welcome, but please phone the leader beforehand to let him/her know you are joining the hike.