Will this heat never end?! That was my regrettably frequent utterance as we toiled up the quite treacherous trail from the Slangkop lighthouse up to the Cobra Camp from WW2, which was one of the coastal sites for radar which was introduced into South Africa in 1939. Only the red brick walls and a few concrete slabs remain at the site, which is liberally decorated with graffiti and being reclaimed by the natural vegetation of the area.
Despite being on top of the mountain, there was not even a zephyr to cool us, and we sought the shade offered high on the cliff face overlooking the lighthouse – a place not for the infirm and unwary, as a steep drop is within a few steps! From here we could see down the coast to Olifantsbos in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, and out to sea we watched the progress of a number of fishing boats setting off to the deep waters off Cape Point. They moved rapidly, their holds empty, and will return at a more sedate pace, gunwales brushing the swells, should the trip be successful.
The last three days of this summer season’s crayfish catching (for the law-abiding citizen) coincided with three days of nearly gale force southeaster – perfect planning to ensure that nobody got to use the permits they all had to buy. The day following, Easter Monday, dawned windless and warm, as Murphy’s Law predicts, and Tuesday was a notch up in both respects. It seemed as though the trail had become steeper, the dry branches scratchier as we lumbered along. It has in fact become quite overgrown, forcing us to hug the precipitous edge of the zigzag path that normally provides easy access. There is much evidence of shortcuts taken between the zigs and the zags, and speculation is rife as to whether they are baboon- or man-made, being a well-known escape route after nefarious activities in the outer perimeters of the village.
Perspiration was more abundant than water breaks and we arrived very thirsty at the top, where we settled down among the ruins to contemplate the endless ocean before us and the familiar landmarks of Noordhoek beach, the Sentinel, Chapman’s Peak and of course the beautiful expanse of Table Mountain, our very own Natural Wonder of the World. Still no breeze to break the heat, and soon we set off across the plateau – shadeless and now plantless after the fires at the beginning of the year. The fynbos was never very bountiful, just the right amount to make for pleasant walking in knee-high growth along sandy paths, but slowly the green shoots are reappearing, and thankfully most of the large mimetes and pincushions only suffered minimal damage. By springtime it should be restored to its former glory.
It was all downhill from Cobra Camp, ending up at the picturesque Rubbi Chapel, unfortunately kept locked nowadays and so we were unable to peek inside to admire this beautiful little chapel built by Italian artisans. A shortcut back to the cars under an avenue of flowering gums won the day over the scramble over the rocks at the beach. A very pleasant walk, nonetheless.