Approaching Woodhead Reservoir, our lunch stop.


- Table Mountain Day Walk -

Platteklip Gorge to Kasteelspoort

via Echo Valley

27th December 2011




The route via Platteklip Gorge to the edge of Echo Valley, through Valley of the Red Gods & finally, down Kasteelspoort.



Table Mountain fynbos in the vicinity of Valley of the Red Gods.

We headed back across Woodhead's dam wall, to pick up the path that led past the Mountain Club of South Africa hut, down towards the head of Kasteelspoort.  The sun glistened off the waters of the Atlantic. Just below Kasteelsberg, to the left, as you look down the gorge, a slab of rock extends over the edge, providing excellent views of the path leading down the gorge. I have included some photos on an earlier hike in 2007 that I took of Ralph (wearing longs) near the edge, looking somewhat apprehensive. Halfway down Kasteelspoort path, Lions Head and the coastline extending to Blouberg and beyond, comes into view towards the north-west . It is a splendid sight indeed! It's at moments like this, as one gazes across the vastness of the ocean, that times stands still. We made our way down until we reached the pipe track, which leads back to Tafelberg Road at Kloof Nek, within sight of Lions Head. En route we met some folk we had seen up Platteklip, who had come down the Diagonal Route via Porcupine Tree from Valley of the Red Gods, some 500 metres before the Kasteelspoort turn-off.

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Approaching Kasteelspoort with Kasteelsberg to the left - note the overhang at the head of the valley.



An iconic image of Ralph on Kasteelsberg ledge, in 2007.


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Disa Gorge below Woodhead Reservoir; Descending Kasteelspoort (in 2005).


Woodhead Reservoir


Contrasting views. Looking down & back up Kasteelspoort.



I have walked a number of routes on various sections of Table Mountain, however there is an opportunity of undertaking a walk  incorporating the spine of the Cape Peninsula from Table Mountain to Cape Point, straddling the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, known as the Hoerikwaggo Trail. It is a hiking trail ranging from two to five days, operated by South African National Parks and may be covered in sections or in its entirety. The word Hoerikwaggo is derived from the Khoi-San word meaning ‘mountain in the sea’.

The Hoerikwaggo Route distances are as follows (see map):

• Table Mountain - Orange Kloof= 18.4 km
• Orange Kloof - Silvermine = 17.5 km
• Silvermine - Kommetjie = 18 km
• Kommetjie - Simonstown = 17 km
• Simonstown – Cape Point = 17km


The moment Camps Bay, Clifton & Lions Head come into view on the descent of Kasteelspoort.



Camps Bay Beach


Camps Bay, paradise of the idle rich!


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A short history of Table Mountain (by wikipedia):

Prehistoric inhabitation of the district is well attested (see for example the article on Fish Hoek). About 2000 years ago the Khoikhoi migrated towards the Cape Peninsula from the north, displacing the San and bringing with them their herds of cattle and sheep. It was the Khoikhoi who were the dominant local tribe when the Europeans first sailed into Table Bay.

António de Saldanha was the first European to land in Table Bay. He climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it Taboa do Cabo (Table of the Cape, in his native Portuguese). The great cross that the Portuguese navigator carved into the rock of Lion's Head is still traceable.
In 1796, during the British occupation of the Cape, Major-General Sir James Craig ordered three blockhouses to be built on Table Mountain: the King's blockhouse, Duke of York blockhouse (later renamed Queen's blockhouse) and the Prince of Wales blockhouse. Two of these are in ruins today, but the King's blockhouse is still in good condition. and easily accessible from the Rhodes Memorial.

Between 1896 and 1907, five dams, the Woodhead, Hely-Hutchinson, De Villiers, Alexandria and Victoria reservoirs, were opened on the Back Table to supply Cape Town's water needs. A ropeway ascending from Camps Bay via Kasteelspoort ravine was used to ferry materials and manpower (the anchor points at the old top station can still be seen). There is a well-preserved steam locomotive from this period housed in the Waterworks Museum at the top of the mountain near the Hely-Hutchinson dam. It had been used to haul materials for the dam across the flat top of the mountain. Cape Town's water requirements have since far outpaced the capacity of the dams and they are no longer an important part of the water supply.

The mountain became part of the new Cape Peninsula National Park in the 1990s. The park was renamed to the Table Mountain National Park in 1998. Fires are common on the mountain. The most recent major fire came in January 2006, destroying large amounts of vegetation and resulting in the death of a tourist. A charge of arson and culpable homicide was laid against a British man who was suspected of starting the blaze.
In November 2011, Table Mountain was provisionally named one of the new seven wonders of nature by New7Wonders of the World.


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Ralph points out the upper cableway on Table Mountain plateau.


Looking back along the Pipe Track.


Turn-off on the Diagonal Route & Porcupine Ravine.


Pin cushion flowers along the Pipe Track - in the distance, the cableway;


Lions Head along the Pipe Track (in 2005).

The wind had picked up on the city-side of the mountain. We had covered the 15.4 km circuit in roughly nine hours, though at no stage had the intention been to rush the walk, but to use the opportunity to appreciate the splendour of what must rank as one of the most stunning parts of the world. In no rush to get home either, Ralph and I decided to quench our thirst, so we stopped off for a drink off Kloof Kek Road.

Jeb Corliss, born March 25, 1976, is a professional BASE jumper, skydiver, and wingsuit flyer. He indulges in what is known as Wingsuit Proximity Flying or proxy flying, the sport of flying the human body through the air using a special jumpsuit, called a wingsuit, which adds surface area to the human body to enable a significant increase in lift. He is renowned for having flown through the Tianmen Hole in China, having jumped from a helicopter at 6,000 feet. A few days after my return to the United Kingdom, on 11th January to be precise, he completed a jump off Table Mountain but miscalculated the strength of the wind. As a result he crashed and ended up with two broken legs for his trouble, a lucky escape indeed. A video, shot from a distant angle, shows what happened.


Views along the Pipe Track of Lions Head near Kloof Nek...nearing the end of our 9 hour walk.


[Home Page]

Table Mountain Walk Dec Plateau 2011 [1] [2]

Table Mountain Walk Tokai Dec 2011

Table Mountain Walk Hout Bay Jan 2012 [1] [2]

[South African adventures]

Table Mountain Walks - webpage

The hike - Ralph's perspective

The History of Table Mountain Aerial Cable - website

The Mountain Club of South Africa - website

The Scout Mountain Club Hut - webpage

Hoerikwaggo Trail - Table Mountain National Park brochure

Hoerikwaggo Trail - tour website & map


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