01 July 2010

Silvermine: Steenberg Ridge

Date: 27 June 2010

Location: Silvermine

Walkers: Richard, Claudia and Helen with Roxy and Daisy

*** Route plotted here ***

While I was waiting for Claudia and Richard at the main gate I organized my little backpack and pored over the map trying to decide on a route. As we didn't want anything too long or strenuous I thought it might be fun to walk along Steenberg Ridge. This is the low ridge, left to centre, in the middle distance, in the photo below right.

Once the others arrived we decided to drive up to the parking lot near the dam and start from there. The ridge was now on our right. The 'elephant' of Constantiaberg was peeking out from behind the ridge ahead. We took the path from the parking area up the slope.

We saw a couple of protea flowers near the start of the walk. Both Protea repens I believe - their colour does vary from creamy white to pink to red.

We brushed past this grass with lovely red-brown tufts.

Once we reached the jeep track we turned right. From here we got an unusual view of the mountains above Muizenberg. It was a very clear day and we could see beyond to the peaks on the other side of False Bay too.

After a while we spotted our path off to the right.

We reached a fork that was not on my map and decided to go right. The slope here was covered in bushes of white erica. The pretty flowers were like little trumpets, with open petal tips - Erica lutea I think.

The path we were on led to a view-spot. The vistas below were breathtaking! To the right we could see the hairpin bends of Ou Kaapse Weg, the route through to Sun Valley. We looked beyond to Silvermine East, the mountains above Muizenberg, St James and Kalk Bay.

We could see across to False Bay, and the Zandvlei wetlands.

The green fields of Steenberg were below, with the Cape Flats stretching out all away to the mountains of the Helderberg in the distance.

To our left we could see Devil's Peak and the back of Table Mountain.

We retraced our steps and this time took the left fork at the intersection. This route took us straight up to the rocky ridge, past several yellow-green leucadendron bushes.

From the top, a stunning view to our left: Tokai and Constantia below, with the back Table and the distinctive profile of Devil's Peak in the distance.

We made our way across the rocks. When there was no path occasional rocky cairns confirmed we were heading in the right direction.

There was a fair bit of clambering up and over the rocky landscape. As usual I found this kind of walking fun, but it required high concentration and progress was pretty slow.

The rock formations were really interesting, and in the sheltered spots between them much was growing.

Not only between the rocks: also on them! A great variety of lichens and mosses. So many lovely colours and textures.

After a while Claudia became concerned that Daisy was finding walking over the rocks a little difficult, so she and I decided to backtrack a little and take an easier route a little lower down. The path wasn't very distinct, but cairns marked the way, and we managed okay. We could see Richard on the rocks above us.

We nicknamed Roxy Turbo-dog as she was quite manic with excitement, charging from Richard above to Claudia below, up and down, again and again. I think she is part mountain goat as she's incredibly quick and nimble over the rocks.

There was some lovely fynbos growing on this slope, including an erica with sticky flowers. Erica urna-viridis? So pretty.

And the red and white bobbly heads of Anaxeton laeve.

Our path climbed up towards the rocks again.

We saw a pine tree popping up from the other side...

... and peaked across to the very top of Tokai plantation.

Again we explored around the rocks.

And soaked up the view.

When we looked down we realized we were only level with the parking area below and that we hadn't covered much distance at all! From here we could see the dam below and the Amphitheatre Path across the valley.

The path from here on was much easier though, an easy walk along the ridge. Daisy found it much more to her liking that the rocky section!

We saw these delightful tiny flowers. I'm finding it hard to identify... Spiloxene alba perhaps? (Update: Crassula capensis! Also known as the Cape Snowdrop. Yes!)

Further along we looked back and got a great view of the lower part of the ridge where we'd just walked. Very rocky indeed!

Our path continued downhill at a comfortable pace.

The 'elephant' was directly in front of us - can you see the back, the head and the trunk? Elephant's Eye Cave is off to the right of the head.

Aaah, I never get tired of this view!

Our path came out on the track that leads across to the cave. We didn't turn right in that direction though; instead we turned left and headed up.

Over the rise we saw the dam again, in the valley.

We followed the path down to the road and circled round to the dam for a rest in the sunshine and a snack.

From here Steenberg Ridge was clearly visible. We'd walked along the top.

Despite her walk Roxy was still full of energy, so Richard threw sticks into the dam for her to fetch. She is a very enthusiastic swimmer. Clever girl!

(Photos by Helen)


Maritza said...

Thanks for this lovely post on your Steenberg walk. Just this weekend, I thought it would be good if our family started exploring the Cape more - on foot. Your blog is a great starting point.

Firefly said...

You are really opening my eyes to the maaaaannnnnyyyyy walks you have around Cape Town and I am embarrased with how few we have here in Port Elizabeth when compared with you.
This walk is a great one if you want to explore Fynbos and all its plants and flowers more.

Helen said...

Thank you Maritza. Silvermine is good place to start. Hope you have some good walks!

Well, Firefly, Cape Town does have a mountain range right in the middle of the city :)
It is a pity there aren't too many walking opportunities in PE. Although you do have easy access to the whole Eastern Cape coast and interior. I remember lovely walks in the Katberg as a youngster!