The last time we walked this delightful trail from Peddlars along the edge of the M3 and across a number of Constantia greenbelts, the mandala garden was still in its infancy and the fields were trimmed and smooth, almost lawn like. After a good winter and the City’s new policy of leaving meadows to be meadows, it was rather like the old Rolux Magnum advert where Livingstone pushed a lawnmower ahead of his travels through Africa. The overgrowth is astonishing, but perhaps we are comparing it to three years ago when Cape Town was in the grips of severe drought and very little grew anywhere. The grasses have grown past waist height and the paths are all but obscured, leading us in a new direction, but no less lovely in its aspect and ending up in the same place eventually – we managed to evade the huge drilling machinery where a resident appears to be sinking a borehole close to the garden, and he will doubtless soon have access to some of the finest drinking water in the aquifer below.
We wound our way through the leafy avenues up to the architecturally charming Kramat in the heart of suburbia, where we were able to enjoy our coffee break in the shady rose garden with fountains playing nearby. A little oasis, well kept and accessible subject to some very sensible rules. It was a short walk down to the next greenbelt, where a large area had been neatly mown by a resident’s gardener and we recalled having our picnic break on that patch previously. A sign on the fence read: Pick up your dog poop. Obviously they don’t like it to besmirch the view and we could only agree. There was no sign for horse poop, but then that is not at all offensive and would in any case require a wheelbarrow.
The route normally takes us wandering through the upper vineyards of Groot Constantia, but the clearing clouds and humidity was taking a toll and we kept to a circular route which saw us ambling in the shady Sillery Trail back to the cars. Here you pass by very modest cottages from the old days, hidden behind creepers and banks of nasturtiums rather than the high walls and barbed wire of the modern mansions up the hill. Somehow this little hollow has managed to retain much of the original character of Constantia, with a flower farm and rickety stables on either side, but I doubt it will last, as development of empty ground was evident with little regard for local architectural style. It will take years for the trees to grow back and shield it from view.
And so a pleasant 6km or so passed underfoot, with only the rolling hills enabling us to classify this as a hike, culminating in a well-earned beer at the local watering hole.