Sillery – the leafy trail

I never enjoy the heat of summer, and hiking in full sun can strip all pleasure from what should be a restorative outing. The leafy suburbs of Cape Town provide many opportunities to walk along tinkling streams under a canopy of tall pines, oaks and assorted fruit trees growing vigorously after being seeded by birds. One of the favourites is the Sillery trail that winds up the valley past the old Silverhurst farm, now just another gated community (albeit magnificent) rather than the farmland I remember from childhood. Where mansions now dominate the landscape, children used to play among straw bales on a warm summer’s evening just before Christmas, throwing handfuls at each other to see how much would stick to them, and clambering into the trailer pulled by the farmer’s tractor for a short tour before the main event – the arrival of Father Christmas on the thatched roof of the barn, lit up by a spotlight as he appeared out of nowhere. Oohs and aahs were silenced as a fairy in an effervescent tutu danced through the trees accompanied by sparklers. Magic times, never to be forgotten.

Back on the trail, we stopped to admire one of the tallest horses I have seen – at least 17 hands, with a fairly small but chunky rider. She seemed to be in total control of this handsome gelding who showed no signs of excitability, but of course the homeward leg is always the telling one! Many a time have I been on an outride on an old hack who transforms into a Grand National winner as he turns his head for home! The presence of horses retains the rural atmosphere of the trail despite ongoing densification, and it is always with appreciation that we traverse these hills.

Although we haven’t had much rain this year, the little pond (the first dam built here) where dogs leap and bound excitedly is full, and the stream that marks the trail is flowing strongly, pristine and clear to sustain the beautiful tree ferns that line its banks. Swathes of striking acanthus cover the slopes, thriving in the shade with their feet kept damp – a plant that needs plenty of water! A male Paradise Flycatcher flitted in the branches overhead, his showy amber tail making it easy to follow him, and a Common (Steppe) Buzzard soared overhead, searching for a meal to fatten up after the long journey from the Russian steppes. The return of migratory birds is as much an indicator of the seasons as is the position of the constellations in the night sky – ancient civilisations based their agriculture on such things.

It seems that development will continue until the very last bit of open ground is filled, and so it is with gratitude that we are still able to step into nature thanks to these wonderful greenbelts that serve as a lifeline for the city dweller!

One thought on “Sillery – the leafy trail

  • Nov 12, 2022 at 11:07 am
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    Many thanks, Pamela. Bx

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