On Good Friday morning a rag tag group set off from the Sunbird Environmental Awareness Center in the Silvermine Nature Reserve. Silvermine Reserve is a part of the Table Mountain National Park and home to many hiking routes in Cape Town, South Africa.
What makes Silvermine special are the various crags and caves hidden in the mountainside out of view from those driving the main thoroughfares.
The other thing that makes this hike unique to our family is that this tract of land along the valley was once owned by my husbands relatives, the Van Der Polls, somewhere in his family tree. We will have to do some deep diving to find out more info!
On this Good Friday we had packed our water and snacks, put on our good hiking shoes and headed out with the dogs in tow. Minki & Max stayed home, although I'm considering taking Max in a Doggy Back Pack for my next Newlands Hike. That could be nerve-wrecking!
We head along the fence of a property built in 1904 and then veer across a small river to a small footpath amongst the grass, heading up the valley. I'm already in my element, snapping photos with my phone as we walk. We didn't start too early, only at 9am, so the sun was already up behind a few clouds.
As the path progressed we passed a large Oak Tree which apparently was known to be found on every farm - it must have been here since @m8ducks ancestors lived here. Then we head a little further and find ruins of a previous stone farm house.
It must have been renovated and "modernised" because we found some concrete type slabs that wouldn't have been around back in the day. We surmised that we were looking at the basement / storage area and that the floor boards would have rested on these walls to serve the main house above.
The foot print of the house went back a whole lot further than we initially thought as we clambered up a broken wall to look beyond the overgrown bush.
Banter about "our" land over, we headed up the path, now getting a bit steeper. As we walked we chatted and got to know each other a little better. Val, an avid hiker, had invited me on the hike and her Teenage son Luke had come along. Then there was Ollie and Marcel, both friends of Val (Although they didn't know each other) and lastly was Sam, a teeny tiny Yoga instructor, and Alison, who it turns out I have a couple interesting things in common with!
We turn right off the main path and onto a narrower path which is now a bit more of a climb. Sam had stuck to the back and caught up while we waited from a beautiful viewing point at the next fork in the path.
I had just fitted a new bladder into my camel-pack and funnily enough it took me til this point to figure out how to extract water from it!
The views were more and more stunning as we ascended the mountain, now walking along an upper contour path towards a rockier climb. The protea, gladiola and flora were beautiful. Val mentioned the iNaturalist app as a way of identifying any plants that I didn't recognise - Um! I recognise most of them but know the names for none of them except the Protea!
Autumn Pypie - Gladiolus
Common Sunshine Conebush
Another small snack break as we reached the kloof and a lovely cooling breeze came down the mountainside. We celebrated with marshmallow easter eggs. The dogs were grateful for the break and some water too.
The podium with route directions
Up, up and over the ridge, continuing to our left now in a circular route around the peak towards an area known as the Amphitheatre. This is a sort of flat, sandy, gathering spot and also where the paths head off in various directions.
Sam and I had been chatting about Hive of all things and got left behind, but a few calls got us on the correct-ish little path (Maybe a little through the bush) to the corridor where we had our lunch break.
This was the most interesting part of the hike as it was the entrance to what is known as The Robinhood Caves. There are a deep network of underground caves within the mountain. Do not attempt them alone and without headlamps as you WILL get lost. Val knows of a guide that she's keen to contact, but after watching this video that was shared to our group, I think I'll give that a miss. I felt claustrophobic just watching it!
I was quite happy to enjoy a hot cross bun and photograph my fellow hikers climbing the cracks and horsing around.
The next section was a round-about walk over the top of the peak, completing our circular walk back to a jeep track. The Flora and rock formations were spectacular. So I took full advantage of every photo I could take.
Purple Tip Heath
The jeep track then hit another fork and we took a left completing the circle. Here's a map of our route from my strava report.
Now it was all down hill although it still felt like a long way back to the cars. This is definitely a route I won't forget and thanks to strava I've got a map to help us out. I've also discovered an open source map app called maps.me which not only replaced google maps, but also includes all the local hiking trails and has offline maps! I'm already planning a two peaks hike based on these new maps - I'll have to see if Val wants to join us.
Finally back at the cars and Val realised that she had left her car door standing wide open, handbag and valuables in full view, but luckily nothing missing (and they say the crime in SA is bad). I think she had angels watching her car for 3 hours!!!
Tired feet and ready for a nap we all head off in our own directions. I cant wait to bring Grant on this one - his ankle is still on the mend so it may be a few months, but it's worth the wait.
If you're in the Cape Town area look us up and we will go for a hike. I'm loving learning the routes on this side of Table Mountain and can't wait to explore even more.
PS. My husband @m8duck has just joined the hive, but he is yet to post! Can't wait to see what he comes up with - although gaming is more up his alley along with Information Security (HELLO!)