Friday morning hike around High Steenberg Peak in Silvermine East

A couple of weeks ago, having walked around the Silvermine reservoir and along the crags, picnicked in the Elephant’s Eye Cave, and hiked all the way to the top of the Constantiaberg, we thought it was time to investigate the landscape in the eastern section of the Silvermine Nature Reserve (also see here). And as Richard’s sister Tanya had arrived in Cape Town the previous afternoon after two days on the road from Windhoek, we thought that she might appreciate a leg-stretching, lung-opening, scenically beautiful hike as the start to an invigorating holiday in the Cape.

A beautifully laid-out footpath

When we arrived at the neatly subdivided parking area just beyond the open entrance booms to the eastern section of Silvermine at about 9h30 in the morning, we were rather surprised to see that we weren’t the only hikers taking advantage of the relatively pleasant early-spring weather… on a Friday nogal!

My beloved Canon S3 IS camera had broken just after my unforgettable birthday weekend in July, so I was delighted when Tanya handed me her little Sony Cybershot DSC W130 with the command, “Take as many pictures as you like.”

She didn’t have to ask me twice. Thank you, TANYA!

Aren't these quite gorgeous?

From the parking area, we followed a well laid-out track up to a gravel road, with a big map marking out the different routes. A stone path led up, past a hill known as ‘Wolfkop’, in an easterly direction. And thus we went a-climbing, quickly breaking into a sweat and huffing and puffing, as usually happens in the first 15-20 minutes, until the ole body has warmed up and the lungs are stretched nicely. πŸ™‚

It always amazes me to think how much work must have gone into creating these stone paths and tracks – I can’t imagine how many hours of back-breaking labour were spent figuring out the route in the first place, then removing the vegetation and unearthing these large flat stones, and finally laying them neatly end-to-end, with smaller stones creating a boundary on either side. If you’ve ever had to bundu-bash your way through scratchy hip-high fynbos, you’ll understand just how awesome it is to have a proper path to walk along!

Can you see the path leading off into the distance?

Our route took us along the north-facing slopes of Wolfkop and up-and-around High Steenberg Peak (only 537 m high), from where we could see southwards across the Noordhoek valley. We had to squeeze through a narrow crevasse and emerged onto a broad ridge.

We kept a lookout for a suitable picnic spot, and found one on a rocky outcrop, where we were – more or less – sheltered from the prevailing winds, which were remarkably chilly at this time of year. Thanks to Tanya lugging a solidly packed rucksack, we had a thermos flask filled to the brim with hot, delicious tea and a container of freshly-baked chocolate marble cake – neither of which lasted very long at all. Blissful sigh of contentment.

Water tumbling down-down-down

Duly reinvigorated, we continued along the sandy track, which crossed the plateau in the direction of another peak, from where one would have perfect views across Muizenberg. But before reaching it, we followed the gravel road as it curved to the right (south), and further towards the west. We passed turn-offs to two pools, Junction Pool and Maiden Pool, and at some stage came to a turn-off to the waterfall, which we had seen so often from Ou Kaapse Weg, but which we’d never seen up close. The path took us right to the top of a sheer drop, down which the water tumbles onto the shadowy rocks far beneath.

From here, we slowly made our way back to the car, and then drove straight to the Noordhoek Garden Emporium for lunch of soup and sandwiches. What a perfect day’s hike this had been!

11 thoughts on “Friday morning hike around High Steenberg Peak in Silvermine East

  1. Lovely walk Reggie!
    Must agree with you about the paths – big thank you to the folks who laid them out years ago and those who continue to maintain them, making these amazing places accessible for us.
    I’m really going to have to go check out that restaurant… food looks absolutely delish.
    Super pics from your sister-in-law’s camera. Have you taken the plunge on a new one for yourself yet?

    • Hi Helen – the Noordhoek Cafe is in the Noordhoek Garden Emporium, on the corner of Noordhoek Main Road and Katzenellenbogen Road. On a Sunday at lunchtime, they serve a proper Sunday lunch, like Momma used to make. πŸ˜‰

      And yes, the photos of the Silvermine Hillcrest hike were taken with my brand new Canon EOS 550D digital SLR – I not only took the plunge, at long last, but leapt into the world of Digital SLRs!!!

      And promptly took the ‘wrong’ lens on our hike – the telephoto (55 to 250mm) as opposed to the standard 18-55mm, which made it rather challenging to take good landscape photos. But you can see that they came out really well nonetheless, from a picture quality perspective, if not from a compositional perspective. It’s not the ideal camera for hiking, though – heavy, bulky, and I was petrified of getting it wet or banging it against a rock. And the lack of flexibility with regard to zooming… I’m gonna have to get used to that. But the DSLR’s image quality is just so AWESOME that I’m not regretting our decision.

  2. Oooh, wow, lovely… congratulations! I hope you have lots of fun with it.
    One option of course is to get another camera just for walks. My friend Michele has recently done that – a tiny Canon point & shoot. Bit extravagant I know, but it seems to be working for her. It’s so tiny, just slips into a pocket. And I’m impressed with the quality of the pics.

    • Hi Helen – yes, that is definitely the best option, as I don’t feel particularly comfortable taking the big camera on hikes, not just because of the weight and bulk, but also from a safety perspective. But for now, I just have to get over the financial shock of buying big daddy! πŸ˜‰

  3. I am so glad to know about your blog, and learn about your wonderful country, by your interesting posts.
    I am not always writing comments, even I am enjoying your stories, writing in another language takes more time, and the amount of words is limited, you know. πŸ™‚

  4. Thank you for another story from one of your walks in your beautiful country. These posts all takes me some steps closer to South Africa!!
    Here it is autumn – but I can feel the spring in many of your fine pictures. So while it’s getting darker and colder here and winter is coming – I can read your posts and start dreaming of spring 2011…..

I'd love to hear your views

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