Date: 12 December 2010
Location: from Constantia Nek
Walkers: Dorothy, Michele & Helen
*** Route plotted here ***
Starting from Constantia Nek we set off early on a sunny Sunday morning for a walk up to the Back Table. One can follow the road up, but we decided to take the more direct stepped path. This route heads straight up and in front of the small peaks Eagles Nest and Belle Ombre, heading right.
It is a climb that guarantees getting the old heart rate up in no time at all. Now that I am getting fitter I really enjoy walking uphill, as long as I can do it at my slow but steady pace. This path is pretty popular and well-used but could do with some repair work. In several places the wooden steps are broken, and in others the earth has washed away beneath and one has to walk over the logs like hurdles.
Not that we were complaining though. It was a perfect morning and we were so happy to be out. Summer grasses swaying in the gentle breeze.
Flowers: purple Pseudoselago spuria and blue spires of Aristea capitata.
The path continued uphill, with the alternative route visible below us. There were lots of runners using the road.
I'm not sure which everlasting this one is, perhaps Syncarpha argyropsis?
As I think this one beside the path may be Syncarpha speciosissima.
Across the valley we could see Vlakkenberg and Constantiaberg.
We followed the path onwards, which stared to flatten out near the top...
... and came out on the road. Aah, what fabulous views down to the Southern Suburbs, Constantiaberg and Silvermine.
Here we saw masses of Scabiosa africana. I love this flower!
The last stretch up was along the concrete track, known as Clayton's road. We trudged uphill while runners flew past us on their way down. I can't imagine how they can run down such a slope without coming a cropper.
As we rounded the last bend we got a view to (I think) Nursery Buttress, and we were up onto the flat Back Table.
We followed the concrete road across the open landscape. To our left we caught a glimpse of De Villiers Dam, the first of the five reservoirs up on top of the mountain. The sparkly blue water looked so inviting.
A little way beyond we passed Overseer's Cottage, one of the overnight stops on the Hoeikwaggo Trail. There is water point here so we stopped to refill our bottles with the delicious ice-cold water.
Plenty of ericas in flower up here: Erica plukenetii and Erica abietina.
Also salmon pink Watsonia tabularis.
Not sure what this yellow flower is though.
Alexandra Dam appeared on our right. We stopped for a bit to eat a piece of fruit and enjoy the view, before carrying on past an empty Victoria Dam.
We marched on past the reeds and restios, until the road swung down to Woodhead Reservior.
We passed the pine trees and skirted south of the dam.
Fortunately the old rusty signs are still up as we saw, both here and elsewhere, the route maps had been vandalised. How awful, and what a nuisance for walkers not carrying maps.
As we approached Hely Hutchinson Reservoir we saw we could cross via the dam wall, so up we went. It was interesting to see the beautiful stonework of the wall and the water channels. These dams were built over a hundred years ago.
Wow, no water at all in Hely Hutchinson... a barren desert.
To our left Woodhead Dam was a more pleasing view.
On the other side of the dam wall we went to have a look at the Waterworks Museum. The building itself was closed up which was a pity as I'd liked to have seen the exhibits inside. We peered through the dusty windows but couldn't see much. I'm not sure when (if?) the museum opens. But several of the cranes, steam engines and other machinery used in the construction of the dams are dotted around outside the building. We had a good look around. It was a bit sad to see this old obsolete machinery rusting away.
We crossed back on the road below the dam wall, and decided to walk back via Nursery Valley rather than retracing our steps along the road. Our path went straight ahead past some interesting rocky outcrops. There were lots of happy twittering birds here.
The path began to descend gently, and we came into the tree nursery.
Apparently all these exotic trees (pines, oaks etc) were planted in this sheltered spot many years ago to see how they'd fair. While many exotics have been cleared off the mountain I'm glad these trees have been spared. Such a delightful cool green forest!
We found a perfect spot in the shade and I got out my lime green cloth and we spread out our picnic lunch. Yum!
After our rest we continued on through the forest and down the valley.
Towards the end the landscape opened up and we got our first view out.
Instead of following the path down to the start of the Nursery Ravine descent we took a right and continued on along the edge of the cliff.
Behind us was Nursery Ravine. It has been far too long since I've done that walk up the mountain. It is on my list!
Amongst the flowers were saw up here on the plateau were yellow Helichrysum and pink daisies, Senecio I think.
After while we saw the Overseer's Cottage again.
To get there we climbed down the hill and over the weir.
And back to the concrete road, thereby completing our loop.
And then we headed down, following the same route we took up.
Drostera in flower on the damp cliff-face.
Down Clayton's Road, and then down the stepped path.
It was midday now and so many more flowers open.
It was getting rather hot on the last bit down so we were pleased to reach the trees and waiting cars. This was a fantastic walk though, a highly recommended route.