Sunday, September 24, 2023

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


Buffels Bay circular walk

The hike from Buffels Bay in Cape Point Nature Reserve that takes us up onto the plateau and then almost to Rooikrantz before circling back along the rocky shore is fast becoming a favourite of mine. There are no walks in Cape Point that are too strenuous or lacking in expansive views, and even the toil up the tar road from the carpark before turning off to the left near the top can pass unnoticed in the right company and weather. An early southeaster helped push us up the hill today, keeping us cool and bathed in the scents of the ocean – salt and ozone – as we wandered along the sandy track snaking down towards Cape Point.

Pincushions and mimetes lined the path, attracting sunbirds that twittered in the distance, not coming out of the shrubbery for fear of blowing away no doubt – after all, what resistance can a bird weighing 9g put up against a fresh southeaster – but we knew they were there, busy amongst the nectar-filled pincushions and pollinating future generations. The lovely China flower has made its appearance, in shades of pure white streaked with dark pink grooves, or delicate pink, their shiny petals almost wax-like. Deep purple babianas dotted with sunshine yellow centres were so small that only their intense colour drew the eye to their presence, and always deserve a closer look to appreciate their beauty. There must be thousands more among the bushes and other fynbos that will never be seen, and we must be grateful for those that are so accessible under our feet. It’s always sad to see them crushed by careless hikers, and this is listed as a reason for fynbos species becoming endangered in certain areas because the habitat can sometimes be as small as a few square metres. A true wonder of the natural world, our Cape floristic kingdom with over 8000 species. So a lot to see still!

A small cove with a rock pool filled by plumes of spray thrown up by the rising tide provided us with a sheltered spot in the sunshine to enjoy coffee and the views. To the left were the impressive sheer cliffs of Paulsberg, Judas Peak and De Boer and to the right the familiar curve and point of Dias Point, where the old lighthouse forms a pimple on top of the hill and the new lighthouse is obscured by the angle of the tip of the Cape Peninsula. Many a time we have walked down the steep, narrow track along the precipitous edge to gaze out into the wild blue yonder, and seeing it from ground level made me give ourselves a pat on the back for just doing that section. The climb back up is not for the unfit.

A southeaster churns False Bay into a lumpy cauldron of phthalo blue, that deep yet subdued colour much favoured in seascapes by oil painters, and today was no exception. Without the reflection of the sky on a smooth surface, the bay looked cold and very uninviting for swimmers and sailors, but conditions were ideal for fishermen who were casting from the rocks at regular intervals, each in the spot where they have caught fish before, perhaps. I have yet to see any fisherman on any beach or rock actually catch a fish, and I’m sure many wives get a nicely filleted fish from the fish shop if there is a mombak. I hope they were lucky today.

Apart from a short section of rocky scrambling, the trail is suitable for a very enjoyable and easy morning in the most beautiful surroundings, at around 7km. The lawns at Buffels Bay are lush and verdant, a warning that they are actually a bog, and many a boot got wet and pants splattered with mud as we waded back to the cars. When in doubt, stick to the road!

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