29 November 2009

Newlands: Littlewort Trail

Date: 29 November 2009

Location: Newlands Forest

Walkers: Dorothy, Helen & Michele

Archive of all walks in Newlands Forest here.

We met up for a late afternoon amble through the trees of Newlands Forest.

Just to the right of the main notice board we saw a sign for the Littlewort Trail, so we decided to try this route. Here, at the start, we noticed route marker "A", a little further on "B", so presumed we needed to follow these short log pillars to complete the trail.

Although there's no map or information available here at Newlands, I've since learnt* that this is a self-guided educational trail and one can get hold of a brochure that describes the route. The route markers indicate points of interest on the way (geology, vegetation, etc).

The path led us through various different forest environments. It was a very easy and pleasant stroll, even if we weren't sure to what we should be paying attention!

Somehow we lost our way after marker "L" - I think by taking a right instead of a left at a T-junction. We found ourselves on one of the main roads through the pines, and decided to follow this instead, a route with which we're very familiar. We meandered back down to the start.

In the pine forest we were very intrigued by a bush bearing red flowers and small green berries, which ripen to black, in little bunches hidden under the leaves. So eye-catching! Any idea what this might be?

(Photos by Helen)

* My googling of "Littlewort Trail" led me to this article. I was impressed to read that the blogger went to the trouble to track down the brochure. Wouldn't it be nice if the authorities made it, and a map, available online?

28 November 2009

Devil's Peak: Woodstock Cave

Date: 28 November 2009

Location: Devil's Peak

Walkers: Michele & Helen

*** Route plotted here ***

Michele wanted to see the flowers I'd seen earlier in the week and I wanted to go to Woodstock Cave.

So we planned our route and set off past the barriers, along the far stretch of Tafelberg Road on Devil's Peak.

Pelargonium cucullatum was flowering abundantly at the start of the walk.

We also passed other pink flowers...

... including another type of pink Pelargonium, capitatum. Pretty!

Frogs were sunning themselves on the edges of the water points and ponds along the way, but plopped into the water as soon as we approached.

Equally shy were the lizards sunbathing on the low wall alongside the road. They scuttled off as we came close, but popped their little blue heads up to watch our next move.

The small stand of cork oaks below the road were looking very green, while the rest of this west-facing slope still looked very black and burned. This area is not recovering from the fire as well as some of the other slopes.

It was hot walking out on the road, with not a breath of wind.

The cool and shady waterfall kloofs were welcome pit-stops.

It wasn't long til we neared the end of the road.

It was here that we had a rather strange encounter. As we came around the corner we saw three people loitering and were a little hesitant about proceeding - muggings have been known to happen in this area. But we also didn't want to turn back before we got to our destination, so we walked on, cautiously. A few moments after we passed them the three got up and started to walk around, waving their hands in the air, and doing some loud religious chanting. It was very peculiar!

We were here for the Watsonias and here they were!

They weren't quite as splendid was earlier in the week, but almost! There was a fair bit of yellow mixed in with the pink, daisies mostly.

We took a path to our right, heading up the hill.

The path zig-zagged through the flowers.

Dotted between the Watsonias we came across more yellow flowers: Bobartia indica, covered in little black beetles.

Mostly though, it was just PINK.

After a while we climbed beyond the band of pink.

Growing on the stretch above we found many Pseudoselago spuria. The little lilac pompoms were very pretty, but the steep slopes were rather treacherous with very loose stones.

We were heading towards Woodstock Cave, midway up the slope.

It was a bit of a scramble to get there.

But the views from up here were great.

And when we arrived we saw that the cave was full of people.

It appeared to be a church group. Were they there for the day, the weekend, or maybe living there? The rocks were full of religious graffiti. As we approached the group started to sing hymns. Not wanting to intrude on their worship we kept our distance. Also, there was a strange vibe - not very welcoming at all.

So we headed down the hill again, taking a left onto the lower traverse contour. We followed this path for a short way until it led us back down to Tafelberg Road. Then we strolled back along the road.

(Photos by Helen & Michele)