13 August 2010

Swellendam: Dams and Beyond

Date: 10 August 2010

Location: outside Swellendam

Walkers: Ian and Helen

Previous walk in this location here.

After three days of rain... yay, sunshine again!

Swellendam has three municipal dams in the valley below Marloth. We found a place to leave the car near the middle dam, and strolled along to the dam wall. We could see that the hillside opposite was being cleared, and that the water level in this dam was on the low side.

It appeared that all the water was being channelled to the lowest dam.

After crossing the dam wall we walked up the forestry road past the area being cleared. Although most of the big logs have been moved there was still a lot of undergrowth and offcuts scattered around. Kind of messy and a bit depressing.

The end of the dam was looking particularly sad and scruffy.

Although the wetlands beyond looked like they were doing okay!

We climbed up a little until we reached the canal. Water from the Hermitage valley is channelled around the hillside to feed the dams. The canal that feeds the top dam was blocked off so the water was gushing along the alternative route... down the hill. Gurgle-gurgle!

We followed the path alongside the dry canal towards the top dam.

This top dam was empty. My brother says some dredging project is being undertaken, although there were was no-one working there today.

Beyond the dams the forestry road narrowed to a grassy path. We continued up the valley, past a patch of attractive indigenous forest.

There were quite a few pretty pink Cape Sweetpea trees growing here. Podalyria calyprata.

We also saw plenty of pink Oxalis.

And a lot of the foliage was showing new growth.

The walking was very easy... a gentle uphill stroll amongst the trees.

We'd passed a route marker for the Wolfkloof Hut (last overnight stop of the Swellendam Trail). Although the hut was still several km's away, we realised by the proximity of other huts and cabins that we were now within the Marloth Reserve. The mountain peaks were close by too!

Yes, we were now directly below Doktorsbos.

We could see across to One O'Clock peak on the other side of the Hermitage Valley. Ian and I are both very curious about that almost-hidden valley. One can only get tantalising glimpses of it, but unfortunately it's private land so one can't explore. Although we would so love to!

We could also look down the hill and back down to the middle dam where we'd started walking. Usually the plantation would hide the dam from view, but now there is just a bare hillside.

After a stop for snacks we made our way back down the same way, until we got to the dams where we took an alternative path that took us down with the dams on our right. From here we got a good view of the earth-moving project going on in the top dam.

We walked along the road for a while and then beside the canal channelling the water down to the lowest dam.

The ubiquitous white erica was growing hereabouts too.

So delicate, with teeny-tiny white flowers.

Wasn't long til we were back at the middle dam. What a refreshing walk!


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