Hike to Muizenberg Cave
Circular walk beginning at Bailey’s Kloof, via Mimetes Valley to the cave and then via Nellie’s and Junction Pool along the Silvermine plateau and down again via Peck’s Valley. Touted as a moderate walk (tiring but not strenuous), the ascent and descent are pretty steep. Great for children over six years. Take hats and bright torches (preferably head lamps).
Mike Lundy’s Best Walks in the Cape Peninsular has this wonderful walk begin at the Muizenberg station – the idea is that you catch the train to Muizenberg, and for visitors to the city without access to transport, this is a real win; there aren’t that many hikes you can do in Cape Town where public transport drops you off virtually on the hike’s doorstep.
Hike to Muizenberg Cave: But for those with access to a car, you can cut a substantial initial uphill from the walk if you start on Boyes Drive at Bailey’s Kloof – park just a little way up from the Shark Spotter. Like me you might be grateful for the car’s presence once back down the mountain again…
We picked the most glorious Sunday of the year to do this hike in early September. Little to no wind meant that the sea was like a giant glass orb, the early spring heat was such that you could see all the way across to Gordon’s Bay, the Helderberg mountain range clear as if it was the other side of the bath tub.
The initial ascent is up a succession of stone ‘steps’ (both the ascent and descent have been lovingly created with the use of stones and boulders of the valley to make getting up and down that much easier) that, because the views out over False Bay are so impressive, distract one from the intensity of the climb.
Below you is the thatched roof of Bailey’s Cottage that belonged to the mining magnate, Abe Bailey, around the turn of the last century.
Interestingly, this is also the site of the Battle of Muizenberg (I know, I hadn’t heard of it either) fought over two centuries ago when 18 English war ships gave the Dutch something of a pounding to remember on the shore.
Another fact Mike Lundy gives you with which to distract yourself whilst busy placing foot over foot on your perpetual climb all the way up Bailey’s Kloof and on into the Mimetes Valley (named after the Mimetes fimbriifolius – a member of the Protea family), is that a particular Erica known as Erica urna-viridis (green urn) is a white-greenish Erica that one finds only on this mountain above Muizenberg in spring (we didn’t manage to see it).
Up the mountain side you’ll stop periodically as the view keeps opening up and presenting vistas that demand notice, on all sides. Actually we could see all the way from Hangklip to Cape Point at one stage.
Walking gets a little easier once in the valley and you’ll manage the valley in roughly 30 minutes, depending on how many stops you make. At the top of the valley the white sandy trail changes distinctly as it joins the brown gravel road where there is lovely round raised metal map that looks like it might be a sundial until you get closer and realise that it shows the various paths you can take.
The cave is not far now. It is not, however, indicated on the ‘sun dial’ map (nor on Peter Slingby’s Silvermine map). In fact, it’s not mentioned in many books on hiking in the area probably, we think, because of the San paintings you’ll see on the walls (in amongst a whole lot of graffiti) that need protecting, and because there is a sheer drop of about 6 metres inside the cave about which you need to know.
We were lucky. There was already a group of people at the mouth of the cave, one of whom was a regular and took us through. The cave itself is large and gaping, but there are two little entrances off to the right. There was a lot of water in the cave and the rocks were slippery. Not my thing, but exciting nonetheless.
After the cave the rest of the walk is relatively easy, so don’t be tempted to go back the way you came, particularly as the views out over Muizenberg on the descent in Peck’s Valley – named after the Peck brothers who ran the well known Farmer Peck’s Inn during the mid-1800s down in Muizenberg where there is now a block of flats – are magnificent.
Up on the plateau is peaceful and beautiful, before the descent. Solitary, still, surrounded by fynbos.
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By the time I reached Boyes Drive again, my legs were jello. Restored by a very late lunch at The Brass Bell …
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