If you’ve ever wanted to experience the land of the hobbits first-hand then head off to Red Hill reserve and the Kleinplaas Dam, just above Simon’s Town.
First of all, it’s not inundated with people and their dogs (although dogs are most welcome; this is purely a figure of speech), and secondly it is an enchanted countryside that transports you into a virtual otherworldly zone, although few will tell you this (we have to have some secrets in Cape Town), and it does depend largely on the time of year that you head up to Kleinplaas Dam (the enchanted aspect does tend to disappear below the water line after a fair amount of rain).
Getting there is generally unexciting, and gives no hint of the scenery to follow. You head up the hill, off the main road between Glencairn and Simon’s Town and just before you reach Simon’s Town, past the Scratch Patch, until you join up with another road and on past Just Nuisance’s grave that finally winds its way up to the top of the hill above Simon’s Town.
Quite close to a number of remains of what were once houses (and the site of a land claim, I believe), is a parking area, where one can leave one’s car. Head off in the general direction of the path, and you’re on the way up to Kleinplaas Dam.
For those preferring an actual hike, there is a clearly marked trail from Redhill Road, but we took a shortcut as we were walking with little ‘uns, so didn’t do the official walk that one can finish, I believe, in just over 2 hours (when you have little people with you, walking to the corner cafe takes just over 2 hours!).
One of the Hoerikwaggo trails takes people from Red Hill to Cape town across four days, and begins along the paths past the Kleinplaas Dam. The first day of this particular walk winds over the other side down along the top of Ocean View, to Kommetjie’s Slangkop lighthouse, which might be a great walk for those more inclined towards a day hike.
On the day we headed up here, rain looked not only imminent, but it had begun to fall in that ‘it’s going to rain for ever’ way that Cape Town sometimes gets. But we could see a patch of blue on the horizon in the direction of the opposite coast. Head up here at the right time of year, and you’re in for a pleasant array of pelargoniums, watsonias, Cape snow and butterfly lillies, and, of course, the dam and its gorgeous rock formations.
Because that is why one heads up here. The dam sits at the top of the hill, built in 1964 on the eastern portion of a farm that was known as Klein Plaats. Suddenly, one is upon the dam and one feels distinctly as if one has entered another world, or, at the very least, the film set for Lord of the Rings.
The dam is gorgeous (by this time, the sun had come out for a while and the place was lit up with an almost surreal light) and surrounding it are rocks that have been beaten into incredibly unusual shapes by both wind and water.
The banks of the dam are similar to those of a beach – sandy, white and inviting – and it wasn’t long before backpacks were thrown down in wild abandon and children were rolling up pants and pulling off socks and shoes to paddle, despite the cold.
After a snack some of us headed off to venture further into hobbit land, but we had not far to go before there was more fun to be had on the banks of a little stream, running with golden water, its banks thick with an unusual clay that provided hours of happy fun.
You don’t need much besides shorts, shoes and possibly a pullover, to have fun in Cape Town!