Weekend in Stanford – Part 4: Wandeling along Stanford’s pretty riverside Wandelpad

We got off to a good enough start, having easily located the Queen Victoria Street end of the Stanford Wandelpad. (‘Wandelpad’ is the Afrikaans word for ‘Trail’.) A large signboard with loads of information on the front and the back, helpfully marked the start.

Welcome to the Stanford Wandelpad

You could read up on the White Milkwood trees that play an important role in coastal ecosystems, occurring mainly in coastal dune thickets and forests, and about the Wild Olive trees, whose stems are usually quite gnarled (they were familiar to us from our hikes in Newlands Forest). It spoke about the Grey Poplars, which were originally cultivated for timber and shelter, but which have now been declared undesirable aliens because they invade river banks and wetlands.

You could also learn about the omnivorous Cape River Crab, which play such an important role in recycling of nutrients, and its fellow riverdweller, the Cape Clawless Otter.

There were pictures of birds, including the ubiquitous Cormorants with their curved necks, the not-so-easy-to-spot Spotted Eagle Owl, the different species of Kingfisher, the Common Moorhen with its distinctive red face, and the gregarious little Southern Red Bishop, which call the Stanford area their home.

Don't you just love reflections?

Very soon, we found ourselves standing at the water’s edge. We followed the path as far as we could to the left, but had to retrace our steps. Unfortunately, we weren’t much luckier on the right either. It appeared that the path ahead was completely underwater.

“Now what?”

“Should we take off our shoes?”

“Perhaps it’s just flooded a little bit?”

“I’ll go and see how far we can get, okay?” volunteered my Significant Other courageously, starting to unlace his boots.

Oh dear - our path seems to be under water...

“Hang on there… that water looks icy! And once your feet are wet, you won’t be able to put your boots back on. And it looks fairly deep… and we have no way of knowing whether it’s dry on the other side of those rails…”


“You’re right. Let’s see if we can find another path through…”

Alas, there wasn’t. Reluctantly, we turned our backs on the river, and walked back to the large signboard.

We took the next track down to the river. Again, our way was barred by water. And squelchy mud. And reeds. Ok, this wasn’t going to be as easy as we’d thought.

A riverside idyll

We heard voices – youngsters, teenagers, calling to each other, splashing and wading through the water, balancing on walls and across fallen trees. They were having a grand old time. We decided to head back home, and suddenly realised that they were behind us, calling out to us, “Tourist, tourist, give us money, money.” They’d spotted me wearing a camera around my neck, and we were easy targets.

Suddenly, our tranquil explorative ramble along the river had taken on a different note, as anxiety surged through us.

We realised that we were outnumbered, and that they could easily grab our camera and run. Fortunately, they were still some way behind, held back by the wet terrain. We walked briskly along the road, conscious of the fact that there were many empty-standing houses here and almost no residents in sight. It was with some relief that we reached familiar terrain, with a couple of cars driving down the larger roads, and neighbourly people chatting over the fence. We had no way of knowing whether muggings or robberies happened in this peaceful little village, but we certainly did not want to take a chance.

Sunset tranquility by the river

In the late afternoon, we tried again from the opposite end of the Wandelpad. This time, there were several friendly people out walking with their exuberant dogs, so we joined them on the footpath.

It was idyllic.

And I think I shall let these photos speak for themselves. Sit back with a glass of cool beer and a plate of savoury chips, and imagine yourself sitting on a wooden jetty at the riverside, dangling your feet in the cool water. And enjoy…

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To read the next instalment, click on The enchanted forest of Platbos.


Here are the links to all the posts in this series, in case you’ve missed any:

  1. Goodbye, busy Cape Town
  2. Hello, serene Stanford
  3. An enchanting little fynbos garden
  4. Wandeling along the Wandelpad
  5. The enchanted forest of Platbos
  6. A round trip via De Kelders, Pearly Beach, Baardskeerdersbos and Danger Point
  7. A waterfall picnic at Salmonsdam Nature Reserve

4 thoughts on “Weekend in Stanford – Part 4: Wandeling along Stanford’s pretty riverside Wandelpad

  1. Hi Reggie,
    Thanks for taking us along on this lovely trip. I’m enjoying it very much and reading without leaving comments but had to stop here and comment on:

    “Tourist tourist….They’d spotted me wearing a camera around my neck, and we were easy targets…..We had no way of knowing whether muggings or robberies happened in this peaceful little village, but we certainly did not want to take a chance….”

    Sheesh that saddens me. S. Africa’s beauty is marred by the crime and fear. I hope it doesnt take too long for the government to put a stop to it.

  2. Hi Rosie,

    I was thinking about your comment, and how to reply. You are so right – the beauty of our amazing country is marred by crime and pervasive fear. Mind you, this is not a problem that is unique to South Africa… though I suppose we are pretty near the top of the list, which is not something of which we should be proud!

    Sadly, however, I don’t think our government has the willpower, the resources or the moral fortitude to ‘put a stop to crime’, or even to reduce it.

    Our various police services are understaffed, underresourced, underskilled, and our criminal justice system is in an absolute shambles, with massive overcrowding in prisons, huge backlogs in court cases, and serious levels of corruption.

    It doesn’t help that there is such extreme poverty and widespread unemployment. Something like 40-50% of South Africans of working age are actually unemployed, which is simply horrendous – many of those do, however, have ad hoc streetside jobs, selling ‘stuff’, begging, washing cars, or, as you will no doubt have seen, working as self-appointed car guards and parking attendants.

    After the World Cup was held here in July 2010, a fantastic initiative was launched – Lead SA (their website is http://www.leadsa.co.za/, but it seems to be down this morning; they also have a facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/leadsa). The initiative is driven by Primedia Broadcasting, Cape Talk radio, other local radio stations and newspapers, etc., and its aim is to encourage individuals to change their own attitudes towards their role in our country’s future, and to motivate for change from the individual outward:

    “A new initiative was launched on Wednesday morning calling on South Africans to respect the country’s laws and lead by example.

    The Lead SA call to action is the brainchild of Primedia Broadcasting and is supported by Independent Newspapers. It aims to encourage action with immediate effect and reminds every South African to challenge negative perceptions, follow the rule of law and help change the country.

    The call to action comes as South Africa has been plagued by violent crime and corruption for several years.” (http://news.iafrica.com/sa/650588.html)

    South Africa apparently has the most advanced Constitution and Bill of Rights in the world. Some months ago, Lead SA launched the Bill of Responsibilities, which, it argues, should accompany this Bill of Rights. You can have a look here for an explanation.

    They regularly promote initiatives, individuals, companies and organisations that do something positive for our country. I believe this is the only way we can really work towards reducing crime and generally uplifting our communities. It has to start with an individual shift in consciousness, and an individual decision not to participate in crime.

I'd love to hear your views

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