To climb or not to climb

As I negotiated the sharp zig-zag of Red Hill Road, the scenic views across Simon’s Town harbour and the greater False Bay went unnoticed. All I could see was the straight stripe of steps leading up from the road to Klaver Camp on the ridge above Simon’s Town, resting place of Just Nuisance. The initial ascent up these 350 or so steps is probably a 45-degree angle, after which it settles down into a kinder gradient. Having done this climb a number of times, and every time saying ‘never again’, I had felt rather pathetic after seeing the eager response from my fellow hikers (it must be said that not all of them had done it before and so were cushioned by ignorance) and so I joined the group on another magnificent autumn day on the Cape Peninsula, mainly for the joy of being there than the route.

I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of huffing and puffing as we toiled up the steep streets, admiring the old buildings, many of which are well restored but others housing retail outlets which would do better in a shabby strip mall somewhere far from this picturesque naval town. A large part of the initial infrastructure from its naval heyday has fallen into dereliction, out of sight and out of mind, and one can only think it was the difficulty of access that led to their abandonment. Thinking of all those who had to access the Signal School at Klaver via the steps before a road was built along Red Hill fills one with admiration for their fitness and dedication to their chosen career.

It was decided to first go to the Admiral’s Waterfall further along the road and into the ravine, leaving the steps for the return trip and those who felt fit enough. Once in the shade of the ravine, a chill came into the otherwise warm air, and having confirmed that there was indeed no waterfall at this time of year, we scuttled back to a handy wall in the shade of some old eucalyptus, where we enjoyed coffee and the views over False Bay. The navy was firing flares over the sea for some reason – although they had warned it would be gunnery practice, the number of kayakers and fishing boats enjoying a morning out on the calm waters must have put a spoke in the wheel or a bung in a barrel!

By then the morning was well advanced and warm and some of those in the know decided not to go up and down 360 steps for a better view! A leisurely stroll down the hill and along the jetty near the yacht club, followed by beer and chips was a most satisfactory end for many to a lovely morning in beautiful surroundings, while those stalwarts who made it to the top could revel in their achievement and look down on us lesser mortals!

Perhaps I will do it again on a cool day!

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