Clovelly wetlands to Silvermine River

This is the perfect walk for those who wish to be up on the mountain but without much effort. Starting at the carpark at the bottom of Clovelly Road, you wind your way past the currently clogged reed beds of the man-made wetland, where bridge maintenance is way overdue and waterfowl have plenty of hiding places – nice for them but no good for birders – along the gravel pathways until you reach the footbridge that connects Clovelly with Fish Hoek. This footbridge conceals the metal pipe that was our only means of crossing the river way back in the 60s, and thick bush lined the banks of the river, making it a place where children were not meant to be; caution was always a good idea, even back in the day. The shortcut to our friends across the river was never taken, and it was always a long walk down to the Main Road and up the avenues, with a return trip later in the day. So development of the area into a managed wetland was definitely a step forward, turning a dubious place into an ecological delight for many.

Meandering up the quiet streets, you will arrive at a sharp bend in the road where a stream used to gush before a driveway was built across it – now a pipe leads the abundant water into the channel where it can tumble through gardens on its way down to the river. A short scramble up the path takes you to the firebreak, where you can walk behind all the houses along a mountain track lined with abundant fynbos and proteas and even the odd tortoise. In Spring there are hundreds of babianas in bloom, a great favourite of mine. As you approach Clovelly Country Club, the views widen to encompass Fish Hoek bay across to Simon’s Town, with Chapman’s Peak looming ahead and, at this time of year, the deep shade from Clovelly Mountain keeps you cool until late morning.

Beyond the clubhouse, a sand track takes you through the middle tees of the golf course and pause must be taken to allow those chasing little white balls along these magnificently maintained fairways to concentrate on their game. It must be quite off-putting to have a large and perhaps critical audience when you aren’t Ernie Els. Once all have safely teed off, hiking can resume and the track takes a gentle slope for about a kilometre, before you arrive at the little concrete slab bridge that crosses the Silvermine River. The flow never quite dries up, being fed from a number of tributaries and runoff from the dam at the top of the valley, and there is little more soothing than a quiet coffee break on the banks of the stream, listening to the tinkling of the waters rushing over little weirs, a rich tea coloured liquid devoid of pollution due to its remoteness from picnic sites.

The return route can be any combination of roads through this quiet suburb, rejoining the wetland path where you left it. The route is about 8km in total and is an excellent morning’s exercise, combing mountain and river in green and peaceful surroundings.

(Cover photo: John Wright)

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