Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine

Trails

Sillery and Silverhurst

Work sometimes interferes with social outings, particularly hikes which naturally take place in daylight, and after a particularly long stint at the computer, my brain took a rest today while my body rediscovered itself – especially my legs and feet! The greenbelts of Constantia remain a source of tremendous pleasure for those who wish to amble a long distance or short, with stretches of sunshine and plenty of leafy dells along the way. It was remarked today – and I am sure it applies to many others – that although one can live in Cape Town for 40 years, it is still possible not to have discovered these lungs of the suburbs before becoming a hiker. Sometimes one associates hiking with travel to the foot of a distant mountain, where a day’s scramble up a rocky path and beating through dense undergrowth lies ahead, but there are different levels of strenuousness freely available across the Peninsula – you have only to join a hiking group to find out what you have been missing.

With a thick bank of cloud hanging low around the edge of the Peninsula, and looking forward to a cool morning, it was a little disconcerting to crest the rise over Ou Kaapse Weg and find the Southern Suburbs basking in early morning sunshine under a cloudless blue sky. Fingers of fog draped themselves over Devil’s Peak, dissipating before reaching the forest line, a harbinger of a cold front approaching Cape Town from the far South Atlantic. Our walk would not be quite so cool, but March signals the onset of signs of autumn even while the summer heat lingers, and we set off from Peddlars up the Sillery Trail determined to enjoy whatever the weather might bring.

Ancient cork oak

An early-ish start is always a good idea, and the sun was pleasant as we made our way up the track past the nursery and horse paddocks – a slight disappointment to find that the massive granadilla vine had been slashed away to the fence line and the harvest of purple gold had vanished – an awful shame and seemingly unnecessary, but heigh-ho! We passed the building site where three enormous houses have successfully covered what was once a lovely field, then meandered up to the crossing on Constantia Main Road, where we joined the Silverhurst Trail.

Leafy shade

This rates, for me, as the second best after the Klaassenbosch Trail, in summer, with its towering canopy of leafy branches (a totally different place in winter) and sometimes tinkling stream, but after a very dry summer only sand remains in the riverbed, and the dam is but a puddle. Perhaps this will all change if the weekend rain materialises. We crossed via the roads to the Bel Ombre meadow, taking the upward path through mown and manicured lawns – all the greenbelts have been recently mown and the effect is to make you imagine you are in an extensive park, a soothing and satisfying place to be in the middle of suburbia.

Some landscaping is taking place along the river banks, with multiple plantings of the beautiful silver tree being the outstanding feature. One can only hope they thrive in their new home; it is certainly looking good right now. Owl feathers lie on pine needles and tiny bones from long deceased mice reveal that the pine trees are still home to plentiful wildlife, a sign of a healthy ecosystem which we all seek to maintain for future generations.

The greenbelts are all easily accessed along short roads, and there are many variations to these trails that will suit every level of fitness and enthusiasm. A sojourn under the trees with coffee and a sandwich, enjoyable conversation and company, and it was time to meander along a slightly different route, this time into the breeze, which thankfully alleviated what was becoming a very warm day! Another highly recommended trail.

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