26 September 2009

Tokai Forest

Date: 25 September 2009

Location: Tokai

Walkers: Dorothy, Claudia & Helen

Tokai has an arboterum, a tea garden, a little bit of indigenous forest, and a large pine tree plantation.

From the main entrance we took a path to the left.

There were route markers but we didn't follow them.

Instead we strolled through the pines and the gums.

It seemed as if we could see every shade of green here.

We walked up alongside the Prinskasteel stream for a bit. Although it was flowing, it smelt very stagnant and there was a lot of scum. In fact it was so unpleasantly smelly that we made our way back to the arboretum.

Here we meandered amongst the trees, with no particular destination in mind. The stillness and all that green is very peaceful - good for the soul.

And I just love the fresh green colour of new leaves!

(Photos by Helen)

24 September 2009

Devil's Peak: Old Military Road

Date: 24 September 2009

Location: Devil's Peak, from Vredehoek

Walkers: Michele, Helen, Claudia and Richard, with Daisy & Roxy

**** Route plotted here ****

Yay, a public holiday! We'd hoped to go up the mountain, but the cloud was low and it was cold and blustery, so we decided to walk on the lower slopes of Devil's Peak instead. From the top of Vredehoek, we took the old military road path. This led below the quarry and out in an easterly direction.

This is a great place to walk dogs, and we had Daisy with us as well as little Roxy, Richard's new puppy, on her first walk on the mountain.

The road climbed gently. It is now six months since the big fire, and there is a lot of new growth beneath the charred proteas. Everything is slowly but surely recovering, coming back to life.

And the views of the east part of the city and the harbour are super, even on a grey day like this one.

Some of the landmarks we noted: Woodstock Cave and the Queen's blockhouse.

Spring flowers brought some colour to the slopes! There was quite a bit of this Moraea ochroleuca about. It only flowers after fire.

We also saw a lot of the paler yellow Moraea bellendenii.

There were many, many Baeometra uniflora and Ornithogalum thyrsoides (Chinkerinchee) buds, some just beginning to open. In a couple of weeks there will be quite a show.

Another one just staring its season is Watsonia tabularis.

And another after-fire special: the beautiful Aristea spirilis, in full bloom.

I saw just one of clump of this shrub. I think it is Indigofera psoraloides.

And this looks like a small white Scabiosa.

The Lachenalias were plentiful, especially on the lower sections.

Even the grasses were in flower!

And we saw more Gladiolus carneus, my current favourite. So pretty!

We were all smiles! Glad to be out, despite the chilly weather.

The dogs were having a great time.

After climbing steadily for a while, we took a sharp turn to the right and continued to follow the path up. We walked through a stand of cork oaks - although still blackened from the fire, they are showing signs of recovery. Our road joined up with Tafelberg Road, and we followed this for a way, then walked down to the cannons. From here we followed the path back straight down to the quarry.

(Photos by Helen)

20 September 2009

YUM! Candied Orange Peel

(Photo by Helen)

I've recently discovered how easy it is to make these delicious treats. Using firm oranges with thick skin, peel the skin off in segments, and boil to soften. Then use a pair of scissors to snip into strips and cook in a sugar syrup til glassy. Lastly, sprinkle with caster sugar and set out to dry. Candied orange peels keep for ages in a sealed jar, and for extra yumminess can be dipped in dark chocolate. They provide a good burst of sugary energy to a weary walker. I ate these while looking down on Hout Bay from up top Kaptein's Peak.

Kaptein's Peak

Date: 20 September 2009

Location: Hout Bay

Walkers: Michele & Helen

**** Route plotted here ****

Today we decided to drive to Hout Bay and walk up Kaptein's Peak after reading about the route in Mike Lundy's Best Walks book. This was our first time walking in this particular area. We left our car right at the top of Bay View Road in Hout Bay Heights, above the harbour. This meant we started off quite far up the hill already, and the mountains ahead looked very friendly.

There was a carpet of these pop-poms at the start.

And this. Can you see the little guy here? Pretty good camouflage I'd say!

We could see across the bay to Chapman's Peak Drive, and spotted the path we took on the Blackburn Ravine walk a couple of months ago.

The road up was a steady climb at a comfortable gradient.

The Sentinel was on our left, with Long Beach and Kommetjie visible in the far distance.

Of course we stopped to look at the flowers we saw along the roadside on the way up. This is Scabiosa africana.

Another Polygala... Polygala myrtifolia I think. September bush!

More pink... Pelagonium capitatum, new and in full bloom.

A bulb called Ornithogalum (could be one of several varieties).

Oxalis obtusa. The verges were covered with it - loves the sunshine.

A mystery bulb! Not yet open... possibly Ixia paniculata?

More Lobostemon. I haven't pinpointed which variety this is, but am captivated by the delicate papery feel of the flowers and the subtle pastel shades of blue and pink. As a child my bedroom had taffeta curtains in just these colours (oh so 80s!).

And Cyphia bulbosa again, a beautiful specimen.

This is Muraltia heistria, seen everywhere this time of year.

We saw this exotic flower growing on the rockface, near a trickle of water. It looks like something in the orchid family - Satyrium coriifolium.

Once we got higher up onto the plateau, there many restios and metalasias.

The fynbos on the plateau area was very interesting. We saw a ground protea, Protea acaulos.

This shrub is Staavia radiata.

I'm fairly certain I've identified this unusual plant correctly as a Psoralea, probably Psoralea restoides. It does indeed resemble a willowy restio.

And these are Salvias of course.

Up ahead was Karbonkelberg. We continued towards it, on the road, for a short way. Then we took a path to our right. We were expecting it to be very clear as our guide-book had described two parallel paths on either side of a fire-break. Well, we didn't see much of a fire-break at all, don't think it has been burnt for years! (Time to buy a more up-to-date edition of that book I think). But we found our path nevertheless, and continued to climb. It was very sandy up here on top of the mountain.

And growing in that sand we saw Nemesia affinis.

Also vygies, such as this one Dorotheanthus bellidiformis.

And Hyobanche sanguina, a very peculiar woolly flower spike.

At the top of the hill we made our way to the right, towards Kaptein's Peak. We kept losing the path as it was all rather overgrown. The shrubbery, particularly the restios, have encroached on the path and we had to fight our way through. It was fun! Luckily we knew more-or-less where to go, that is, round the right side of the outcrop and then up a steep gully, to reach the top. I'm no fan of exposed heights or rock scrambling and found it a little scary getting up this little bit.

But up I got! There was a lot of bushy shrubbery on top of the peak also.

And great views in all directions. To the right we now looked down on the Sentinel, and could see our path far below.

On our left, a panorama from the back table across to Vlakkenberg.

On the way down a minor wrong-turn took us to the Karbonkelberg path. Wow, some serious erosion has occurred here! It's in a state of some disrepair and possibly a bit dangerous. Luckily we only had to follow it for a short way before we got back onto our road.

Then we took a detour to the "long drop" lookout point. A side-path led through the restios to the edge of the cliff. From here we could look back at the hillside we'd just come down (not sure how we'd made a wrong turn earlier - the paths look so clear from this vantage point).

The views out were breathtaking. The rocky coast (the base of the Karbonkelberg) looked so far down, and so wild.

And below us the sea was a lovely turquoise blue.

Up top the cliff I was excited to see a Drosera cistiflora. This was the first time I'd spotted this type of sundew. They are carnivorous plants - small insects are attracted to and then caught in the sticky liquid they secrete on their leaves. For more info on these fascinating plants, see here.

After this we headed back. We took the short-cut paths and were down in no time. This was a wonderful walk.

(Photos by Helen and Michele)