Day 186 – Up the mountain

The Boy Wonder is leading a hike up Table Mountain this weekend, and so we decided to do a quick recce in case there had been any changes since the last time he/we were up there.

Not much had changed since I was last up there except that the dams were a whole lot fuller.

Here’s proof:

The image on the left – showing 11 rungs going to the water level on the Woodhead Dam – was taken on the 24th of March last year. I took the one on the right this morning and the water level is above the third rung down. 18 months and 4 days change.

The overflows were hard at work:

It wasn’t raining while we were up there – it was all gorgeous and sunny – but we did get caught in an unforecasted and therefore unexpected downpour on the way down. A stark reminder that conditions can change very quickly on the mountain.

13km (and 650m of ascent) later, we dragged our soaking wet bodies into the car and headed home for hot drinks and showers.

It was a great way to spend a morning.


Lovely day with the berg wind blowing today, so we walked the beagle early and then I used the opportunity to get a few jobs done (including bathing a reluctant canine) and watched a bit of the cricket.

A far cry from a few months ago up the mountain, where it was grey, cold and wet. Especially for these guys:

Such were the conditions up there that it was only the next morning we saw the sign saying that perhaps swimming “wasn’t allowed”.

So obviously, if you see any of these individuals in the street, please remind them that they were inadvertently very naughty up in the clouds and they really shouldn’t do it again.

Now on Flickr…

…(finally) some photos from the last week or so.

They’re here.

And when they were lined up, I couldn’t help but noticed the sharp juxtaposition between the photos taken in Cape Agulhas last week, and those taken on Table Mountain just a couple of days later (not least the ‘grass-in-the-bottom-left-hand-corner’ pics, top left and fourth middle):

Check out the washed-out, near-monochrome top four, compared with the bright, heavily contrasted, colourful selection below them. But that wasn’t merely my photographer’s eye: it’s a genuine representation of what was there.

Cape Agulhas was sunny, full of vivid blues, greens and whites, busy skies and reflective seas. Table Mountain was the complete opposite: greyscale, dull, grim and sullen. ‘Togging the Victorian infrastructure of the dams on the mountain top was easy in those conditions: the dour, powerful, solidity fitted perfectly with the elemental, moody, unforgiving weather.

I enjoyed the fresh air and the walking on each of the days we were out and about, but it’s interesting to note that I probably wouldn’t have taken any photographs at all had the weather conditions been reversed for the two locations. It just wouldn’t have made sense.

Good job I was there on the right days, then.


A night up the mountain at Overseer’s Cottage last night then. A 10km hike to get us there, up into the clouds and the peace and quiet of the Table Mountain National Park.

And a great night around the fire with friends, beer, wine, brandy… and some education. The clouds occasionally broke just enough to allow us to catch the odd glimpse of Cape Town below us, before the rain rolled in overnight, blanketing the plateau in thick, chilly fog for our walk down this morning.

No real review here. Suffice to say that the accommodation was basic, but decent enough. The beds were great, although I only managed to crawl into mine at about 2 this morning. Take plenty of water, food and booze, some power banks and battery-powered lights and a variety of clothes for the distinctly variable weather. Be advised that whatever your forecast says for Cape Town really doesn’t apply to the top of the mountain.

And then just chill in the peace and quiet and take in this sort of view of the hustle and bustle of the city below.

I’ll be getting some photos up onto Flickr this week as well. But weirdly, having drunk out the whole of the summit of Table Mountain last night and then hiked back down this morning, I’m feeling rather tired today.

More tomorrow then…

Mountain Heights

This would be a TIL, but I actually learned this some time ago and just never blogged it.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa and Snowdon, Wales, United Kingdom are exactly the same height.

That height is 1,085m or 3,560ft.

Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales, and the 19th highest in the British Isles. All the higher mountains in the British Isles are in Scotland (Ben Nevis being the highest at 1,354m/4,411ft), meaning that Table Mountain is higher than any point in England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man. I knew this bit anyway, but I didn’t know that Ol’ Flat Top (as no-one calls it here) and Snowdon were exactly the same height.

For the record, Table Mountain isn’t even the highest peak in the Western Cape, let alone South Africa. Those records go to Seweweekspoortpiek (2,325m/7,628ft) in the Klein-Swartberg and Mafedi (3,451m/11,322ft) in the Drakensberg.

And for another record – and just because it’s a number that has stuck with me since I visited it in 1986 – Mafadi is just 10ft short of being the same height as the highest railway station in Europe: Jungfraujoch sits at 11,332ft. Aside from its altitude, one of the things I will always remember about going there was running along the train platform despite several warnings not to, and becoming very short of oxygen, very quickly.

Something I should probably keep in mind when I pop up Mafedi on my next visit to KZN*.


* Presented solely as a nice conclusion to a simple blog post. I have no plans to climb this extremely remote peak.