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The weekend of 9 – 11 March saw Greg leading a climbing meet at Pinnacle Gorge and me doing the hiking option up Cockscomb.

Ed and Charles opted to leave Knysna at some ungodly hour on Saturday for a 7 am start. They would have been on time but for one misdirection into the farmer’s homestead road.

The 5 hikers on the day were Greg and Janet Moore, Ed Shuttleworth, Charles Smith and Cheryl Devine (leader).

The trek starts from the cottage, where there are several tracks leading up to a break in the rock band, near the crest of the hill. The path then follows the farmer’s fence for some way. The path is rocky but easy to follow, with the very impressive Pinnacle Gorge on your left. At some stage you cross over the fence and the walk from then on is forever upward. After about two hours of steady plodding you traverse around to the left, to a rising traverse line up to the base of the summit peak.

It was never Janet’s intention to do the scramble to the summit, so she waited in the shade, for our safe return.

To reach the summit you follow a fairly well-marked trail that weaves in and out of rock bands. At times the scramble is over very exposed areas and you must have a good head for heights. There is not much respite for the weary on the way up and like all summits, is very illusive. As I puffed and panted my way up, I said to Greg, who was bouncing along, “I think we are nearly there” and he looks at his GPS and says “nope, another 200 m to go”. I hate modern technology!!!

The return journey was uneventful and a refreshing swim near the cottage ended a great trek.

The tech savvy have supplied the info below:

Start: 513 m @ 07h35
Janet stopped @ 1161 m @ 10h00
Base of climb @ 1328 m @ 11h00
Summit 1747 m @ 12h30
Descent done in 3 hr 32 min
Distance covered: 5.7 km
Average moving speed: 2.2 km/h

The social aspect of all meets must not be forgotten, so thanks to all who joined in and made it a fantastic weekend.

Cheryl Devine – meet leader


The pick-up cars were parked at Coney Glen, Knysna Heads, and we drove to the start at Sparrebosch. The landowners had decided to repair part of the fire-damaged fishermen’s path down to the coast, so they had just recently closed the trail! The official there would not allow us access. It was quite a bind after all the planning, and in addition we had a visitor from Cape Town, who had come just for this meet. I knew that you can start a bit further down the coast from Noetzie. So that quickly became plan B. It just meant that we would have to do it a bit faster than planned, because we still had to get through key points on the coast while it was spring low tide.

Greg Devine, Gillian Forbes, Ed Shuttleworth, Dennis Lange, Cheryl Devine, Charles Smith, Wolf Schneider, and photo taken at Noetzie beach by Clive Louw (leader).


This route follows the very rugged and beautiful coast line to Knysna Heads. Because this route is best done at spring low tide, it is rare to see anybody else. There is the occasional beach, but it is 99% walking and scrambling the rocky coast, while avoiding the splashes from the waves.

Then a pleasant lunch spot in the shade. It was a somewhat hurried bite, and I hope I will be forgiven. The important point is that the rising tide did not catch us.

This was followed by a very large double arch rock which we climbed through. There was still a tough step to climb and finally we joined the Sunday afternoon crowds at Knysna Heads. The route took us 6,5 hours, the same time as previously from Sparrebosch, but it was hurried.

Clive Louw – Meet leader


First there were 20, then 15, then as day zero approached only 9 hardly souls swam down the river with me. Admittedly,  the weather was not ideal, overcast, not a patch of blue in sky to cheer us on, but I think we all had a great day nevertheless.

We started our journey from Strawberry Hill, walking down a well-trodden path to the river.  Without delay we enthusiastically jumped into the warmish water and swam, walked, waded and scrambled our way down the Kaaimans. The river level appeared to be higher than usual and the small rapids we encountered had a bit more force behind them, adding a little excitement to the trip. After the last long swim, we got out of the river under the N2 bridge in Wilderness. The total time to complete the swim was two hours, add half an hour for the walk down equals two and a half hours. If the weather had been kinder to us we would have been a lot more casual in our meander and stopped to smell the roses on the way.


Back to the cars and dry clothes, then Strawberry Hill to end the day with a braai shared with Bill and Di Turner. While we were having fun in the river Di and Bill took Sandy, Nicky and Sandra for a walk their Fern Trail.

The intrepid enthusiasts who shared the day with me and made it such an enjoyable one, were Greg and Janet Moore, Gillian Forbes, Alexis Aronson, Clive Louw, Stewart Stiles, Greg Devine and guest Tony Rebelo.

Cheryl Devine

There are not many places these days where you can explore an absolute pristine environment and see no traces that other human beings have been there. Buffelskloof is such a place. It is the mother of all Swartberg kloofs (not including the poorts). It cuts deep into the Swartberg near Ladismith for about 5 km, separating Towerkop and Elandsberg. From the bottom of the kloof, Towerkop and Elandsberg tower more than 1400 metres above it. Now that is a deep kloof!

Fifteen members attended the meet, of which four were from the EP section: Derek and Jacomi Odendaal, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Clive Louw, Maretha Alant, Charles Smith, Johan Huisamen, Janine Smith, Ed Shuttleworth and Gillian Forbes. EP section: Derek Marshall, Terrence Travaskis, Ruban Snyman, Dale Gathercole.

Not on the photo: Greg and Cheryl; Derek Marshall

We spent the Friday night at the nearby Towerkraaltjie camping terrain and left early on Saturday morning to get an early start. From the parking spot (the same as for Towerkop), we hiked (and bushwacked and waded) into the kloof with our full packs for about 2 km. Reaching the big camping spot, we left our packs there and continued with day packs and dry bags, also prepared for the obstacles the kloof might present. The EP section climbers went their own way, scrambling up the western slope to do some bouldering and to climb a pinnacle. It was a cloudless day, and although not too hot, the sun was quite fierce.

The kloof is rough from the start, and you basically walk in water all the way (on slippery rocks and over boulders). We expected a few swims, but the deepest pool was about chest deep. The going was very slow at about 1 km per hour. The scenery was spectacular. In places the kloof is narrow, with rock walls rising over 150 meters. Other parts are more open, with overhanging rock walls higher up, thick bush and some glimpses of the high peaks. One can never see Towerkop or Elandberg – you are just too deep inside the mountain.

After about 3-and-a-half hours going up the kloof, it was clear that we will not reach the Elandsberg fork. Considering the tiring terrain to return to the camping spot, we turned around. It was rather surprising that we did not get any insurmountable obstacle this far. I believe the Elandsberg fork can be reached, if you have enough time and young legs. From that point you will be able to have the most amazing view up to the huge Elandsberg hollow, rising more than 1000 meters almost straight up. We leave this challenge for another day and another group.

We were all glad to reach our camping spot in one piece and to rest our weary legs. The climbers also had a good day out and came down the slopes in good spirits. They also discovered some San paintings in two shelters up the slopes. Most of our group went up to the nearer shelter on Sunday morning to admire this fascinating art of the shamans. After that, we walked back to our cars, satisfied with the experience of this fantastic kloof.

Hikers participating:
MCSA members: Dave & Margie Barnes; Hugo Leggatt; Geoff and Lorraine Ditchfield; Tannje Strauss; Clive & Sandy Louw; Elaine Smith; Charles Smith; Eric & Margrit Brack; Hans van Ameide; Saartjie v.d. Merwe, Wolfgang Schneider
Visitors: Gilian Forbes, Nelia and Stewart Neill (aspirant members); Natasha Leggatt; Britney Margues, Morris and Gail Berghoff.
Grade: 1M, distance 14,5 km.
Permit: Wildcard needed.
Trail condition: Excellent, good path all the way.
The weather : perfect!
The group: 23 in total

The hike:
With 23 people it took a while before everybody had signed in and the permit was received. Luckily most of the hikers signed in as soon they arrived.

The first section of the hike goes through beautiful forest at the Perdekop trail. We turned off the trail at the bridge towards the valley. Here the fire caused major damage, it was clearly visible how the fire got into the forest by the gravel road, scorched the trees but didn’t burn the indigenous forest.  In the valley everything was burnt and it was a shock for me to see how little regrowth there was under the former pine trees. Probably because of the acid soil.

Luckily on the other side, the Redwoods were undamaged and again the forest was absolutely fine.

After a break we continued on the Harkerville trail in reverse back to Perdekop and the start.

For me, as a beginner meet leader, I was very happy to have Dave with me. He did a wonderful job as tail -end Charlie. And what a lovely group I had! Thanks everybody for making this very special for me.

Gonny Houtsma – meet leader – assisted by Dave Barnes

Meet Leader: Evie Bowen
Hikers participating:
MCSA members: Cheryl & Greg Divine; Dave &Margi Barnes; Janet & Greg Moore: Erich and Margarite Brach; Wolf Schneider; Wendy Thompson; Elaine Smith; Ian Clarke; Geoff and Lorraine Ditchfield; Ann McGregor.
Visitor: Gill Forbes.

Grade: This hike was advertised as a Grade 2m – for the section from the Car Park to the old dry dock wreck, and a 2+M for the final section to reach the caves. Thanks to the creative ocean, tides and winds, much of the beach sand was missing, thereby exposing the underlying rocks. So the hike was upgraded to 2+M for the entire route – at no
additional charge!

At the Wreck our party divided into 2 groups – Group “C” to continue to the caves, while group “W” opted to return by the same route– Dave Barnes very kindly took charge of this group.

Hike distance: Full hiking distance was about 6/7 km. To complete the full hike (on this occasion) – it was the not distance that was important. A good body workout was achieved by all who took part in the full hike. There were countless ups and downs, and in and out movements, as we clambered over and along the rocks.

Access and permits: Public coastal land – no permits required
Trail Condition: Excellent. Wonderful section of Coast to hike. A “there and back” coastal walk. However Group C did follow a small additional variation taking a fisherman’s path up to a viewpoint and then a descent back to the coast rocks, before continuing to the site of the main caves.
Duration: We set off at 8.30am.
Group W – to Wreck and back – about 3 hours ++
Group C- about 4++ hours – arriving back at the car park at about 1.00pm.
Tides: This walk does need to be planned around low tide. Access to view the caves is only possible at low tide.

Here a cloudy start to the day – with the sun soon taking full control.
The full party below.

On this Sunday the water levels seemed very high. As we arrived at the first set of rocks, I decided I must have got the tides wrong. However, it soon became apparent that the sand I was used to along this section of beach had all but
disappeared. The last few months of high seas and storms must have swept all the sand out – the hike was very different to the last 2 occasions on which I had previously walked – in both Jan and May 2017.

View looking back to Glentana

The hike begins in earnest – scramble up and over – hands and sticky footwear were necessary.

Looking out of one of the caves –a short snack break – before returning.

This previously was a lovely beach with the chance of safe swimming in the waves. Today only a rock pool would have been an option. All in all, a bit of a chilly wind – thus no one was inclined to take a plunge.

And so on to our return – hands and feet back to work. Quite an adventure!

The old dry dock wreck – breaking up – very slowly as it has been here since 1902.

The end of the hike. And the beautifully decorated restaurant could not even provide a cold beer!!! What a blow.White wine had to make do!!

Thank you to all who supported this meet. It was a lovely day out – and the newly swept coastline – has I feel improved the overall challenge of the hike. Lots of fun. Thanks to Dave for helping with leadership skills, and Wolf for some of the pictures.

Evie Bowen – meet leader

We spent the weekend in the Langeberg Mountains, at Riversdale where the Sleeping Beauty trail is situated. Our hikers could choose from 2 options.
A. The Soft option: Evie booked a weekend away, overnighting at a self- catering cottage and campsite in the foothills of the Langeberg. The campsite was situated just east of the Korentepoort Dam on a private farm. 2 day hikes were planned. Saturday, to undertake the “Sleeping Beauty Peak trail “. While on Sunday a shorter hike in the area surrounding the Korentepoort Dam, and foothills of the Langeberg was on offer.
B. The tough option: Derek however wanted to do the full 2 day overnight backpacking version of the Sleeping Beauty trail. This involved gaining permission to overnight at the “Ou Toll hut” on Friday night, and walk through to the” Rooiwaterspruit Hut” for the second night.

Access and permits: The day hikes are currently run by the Riversdale municipality and no permits are needed. The overnight hike is officially closed – in the future it seems that Cape Nature will be managing this trail, and they are planning to re-opening the overnight version at some stage.

Trail Condition: The Peak path is in an excellent condition. The marvellous fynbos and views occurring along the path make this an exceptionally rewarding trail.

Evie’s Day hike report

Hikers: MCSA members: Cheryl Devine, Clive and Sandy Louw; Greg and Janet Moore; Tony and Evie Bowen. A visitor Yvonne – who lives locally, and is very knowledgeable about the plants – also joined us for part of the hike.

Thank you to our hosts – Wilma and Robin King for a delightful farm stay.

Evie Bowen /the softies group meet leader for Southern Cape MCSA



I’ve been eager to climb the Sleeping Beauty Peak since I was a boy. My mother grew up in the Riversdale district and I came to know this mountain with the beautiful profile since childhood. It fascinated me, but I was always just travelling past it on the way to some holiday destination. After living in the Southern Cape for 6 years, it was high time to climb this mountain.
The overnight trail has been closed for quite some time and it was a mission to get up-to-date information and organise a hike on the trail. But persistence paid off and I managed to secure the huts and the trail for the weekend I wanted, right in the middle of the most fantastic Langeberg flower display.

Four other enthusiasts joined me on the overnight hike. We spent Friday night at the Old Toll hut in Garcia’s Pass and had a nice braai. Saturday proved to be a beautiful day for hiking and we made the most of it. On our way up to the Sleeping Beauty, Evie and her group caught up with us. They were doing day walks in the area and hunting rare plants. Three of my group climbed the peak and we then continued along “Oom Boet se Pad” towards Rooiwaterspruit hut. The Ericas and other flowers were a feast for the eyes. What a special day in the beautiful Langeberg! I was really delighted to find a few of the special Riversdale heath plants in bloom along the last stretch of the trail. It was a rather tiring day and we only arrived at the Rooiwaterspruit huts at 5 pm.

We took a shorter detour down the mountain on Sunday morning and thus concluded a wonderful weekend hike.
Group: Derek Odendaal, Jacomi Odendaal, Maretha Alant, Karin van Niekerk, Jacolise Joubert (guest)

The group, with the Sleeping Beauty peak in the distance

On the neck near the peak

On the summit of Sleeping Beauty

Hiking towards Rooiwaterspruit

A display of wild flowers

Erica blenna, the Riversdale heath


Our group of 7 hikers assembled on Saturday afternoon at Asante Sana private game reserve near Graaff-Reinet where we were greeted by out hosts Richard and Kitty Viljoen.

The giraffes came out in numbers to welcome us.

A collection of old souls was on hand as well.

Enthusiasm and energy levels were high, so it was agreed that alarms were to be set for 05h30 the next morning and after a braai around the campfire we all retired.

Assembled for the off
(L-R Greg Devine, Cheryl Devine, Maretha Alant, Ed Shuttleworth, Charles Smith, Gillian Forbes, Dennis Lange )

Sunday morning dawned without a cloud in the sky. We were kindly dropped half way up Waterkloof and from there the first stage of our hike commenced. We started at 1300 masl in fairly thick bush which gradually thinned out as we progressed along a jeep track. As we proceeded higher the cliffs above, which border the perimeter of the Asanta Sana crater, revealed themselves. Reaching the top of the kloof we emerged on a plateau and after crossing a neighbouring farmer’s boundary we proceeded across the plain which consisted almost entirely of short but very tussocky grass. This proved deceptively tiring to navigate especially when we tried to conserve height and contour round the valley on the return. It was only now upon reaching this plateau that our summit came into sight. The scenery up here can be best described as BIG COUNTRY and is very similar to that of the Southern Drakensberg plateau.

Emerging onto the plateau we caught our first glimpse of our destination.

Contemplating the BIG COUNTRY

Whilst the day was warm and very sunny we were cooled by a gentle breeze throughout the climb. The final stage of our hike was the last 200 metres which necessitated a clamber / climb over large angular boulders right to the top. The topography in this respect is, not surprisingly, very similar to that of Kompasberg which we were able to see from the summit silhouetted proudly on the distant horizon to the north.

A short rest crossing the plateau with our target ahead

Nearing the summit @ 2429 metres asl.

Soaking up the sunshine on the summit.

Seven of us set out and we all reached the summit which at 2429 masl is the second highest peak (after Kompasberg @ 2502 m) in South Africa outside the mighty Drakensberg. We spent about 45 minutes at the top soaking up the sunshine, views and enjoying our assorted snacks. For once there wasn’t the slightest hint of any cutting wind that would have pushed us off the top and we could have dawdled there all day were it not for the need to get back to from whence we had commenced.

Back to from whence we came

In total we spent just shy of 10 hours on the mountain excluding the ride to and from the trailhead. In that time we covered 18 km. It would only be fair to admit that after the days exertions the groups collective energy and enthusiasm was somewhat blunter than the preceding evening so we resolved that rather than tackling another peak (Skuwekop) we would opt for a shorter hike the next morning.

An early night allowed the batteries to recharge and when alarms sounded at 05h30 we were soon into, by now, a regular routine. Dropped at our trailhead some 5-6 km from our camp we completed a lovely circular walk around the Glen Haven valley. We completed this in exactly three hours and were packed up and ready for the drive home by 11 am – we set off to our various homes not before we had all made a mental note of which peaks we would like to climb on a future visit should we be lucky enough to be invited again!

Heading down the Glen Haven valley

More photos can be viewed by pasting this link into your browser: –

Ed Shuttleworth – meet leader


Quite a while ago, one of my much-younger climbing partners turned up at the crag with a new climbing rope. When I asked him how much it had cost, he said that he had pinched it from his father. His dad, he added, didn’t climb anymore. He went on to say that his parents were still quite active hikers, but “they only go out on prepared trails”. This last bit was loaded with something akin to contempt.

I was reminded of this the other day when, not only were we not going rock-climbing, we were actually going out on a “prepared trail”. The only thing that saves us from being totally busted down to rank of slack-packer or worse, is that the Arangieskop Trail is not your usual “prepared trail”.

The trail, situated in the Langeberg behind the town of Robertson, rises some 1150 metres on the first day, another 150 metres up to the summit on the second day, and then the whole 1300 metres back down again. It is all on a good, clear path, but it is very steep, especially down. The trail is managed by the Robertson Municipality and booking is easy, though getting a bit expensive at R352 each.

We spent the Friday night in the Dassieshoek House at the start, so that we could make an early start onthe trail. We left some clothes and food in the house, rather than in the cars, as we had heard that there had been some cars broken into. Reassuringly, there was no broken glass in the car-park and our cars were safe while we were away.

The top hut is superb, with fire-wood, water, a hot-water donkey, an external braai as well as an inside kaggel or braai. The only problem with the internal fire, as experienced on a previous occasion, is that the chimney rises through one of the bunk-rooms. The chimney leaks and gets very hot, so that room becomes a smoky sauna.

I had lectured everyone beforehand on the disadvantages of not having braai meat while everyone else did, but of course I had not taken my own advice. In the end it was only Ed who had brought meat, and he braaied it outside, so no one got really jealous.

There are two schools of thought about what is the right and proper time to have dinner in a mountain hut. There are the feed-your-facers who eat when they are hungry and for whom a dinner-hour is a mere construct. This group usually boil up a big pot of something and chow it down immediately. Then there are the fine-diners, who feel that one can’t eat before seven, or eight even. This lot cook up something fancy, with many courses, using lots of separately packed ingredients, such as a clove of garlic to fry in a pat of butter and a bit of milk to make a white sauce to go with the fried mushroom.

The split between the two groups is perfectly replicated at bed-time. The fine-diners are horrified at the idea of bed before 10 pm, as it’s “going to be a very long night”. Yes, it is going to be a very long night, all the more reason to get quickly into bed and spend the very long night in dreamland. Unfortunately there is always a third category, the faffers. This lot mean to eat and go to bed early, but by the time they have fiddled about it is actually quite late. So the top hut is a good place to observe mountain hut rituals, while being tired enough to go to sleep early and not mind the goings-on.

This is one of the best trails around, prepared or otherwise, and we really enjoyed doing it. Apart from a freezing wind on the summit, the weather was good and all went well.

The party consisted of Cheryl and me, Ed Shuttleworth, Karin van Niekerk, Joan Lourens, Maretha Alant, Derek Odendaal and Tony and Evie Bowen. The weather was fine and cool and we had a great hike.

Thanks to Ed Shuttleworth for photos.

Greg Devine – Meet Leader



Thirteen enthusiastic people attended this hike. We gathered in Ladismith on Saturday morning and drove the last few kilometres to the starting point on the Buffelskloof farm. The planned hike was not too strenuous, but some preferred to go up all the way to Nel’s Cave that day (1400 m ascend). The rest of us walked to the tin shelter, some 800 m up the mountain, in perfect weather. The shelter is small, so a few tents were pitched around it.

Barren Towerkop

The higher parts of the mountain burned down in March and it was still rather barren. But winter snowfalls and recent rain helped a lot to spur re-growth and germination of new plants.

The shelter group

A sky with brilliant stars added to our joy that evening. The night, however, brought a strong wind that almost blew our tents down the mountain. It was still blowing on Sunday morning. We walked up the mountain with day packs in gloomy, cold conditions. As we approached the cave, we met up with the four cave-sleepers as they returned from exploring the slopes and cliffs around Towerkop. They were making ready to head down the mountain again that same day.

The Cave party

We also followed the way around the cliffs of the Cave Buttress to the eastern scree slope, past the water cave, the view points, walking below some of the famous rock climbing routes up the Buchu Buttress and the two Towerkop buttresses.

Near Nel’s cave

The wind was still uncomfortable and cold, while the clouds still hung overhead and seemed to get lower. The planned circumnavigation of the higher peak was abandoned and we started back on the same route we came.

The pinnacle on Buchu Buttress

The eastern scree slope

After having lunch at the cave, we went down again. The wind subsided somewhat and the temperature became more comfortable.
Myself and Johan went east during the descent to a viewpoint and had a wonderful view of Elandsberg, Buffelskloof and the impressive rock arch down below.

The view towards Elandsberg from the high part of Towerkop.

Arriving back at the shelter, we found that some of the others in our group also went down the mountain (expecting bad weather), and six of us were left to spend another night at the shelter. The weather has improved and we had quite a pleasant late afternoon with sunshine and warmer weather.

The next morning we walked down the mountain and arrived at the cars before 12 am. The weather turned bad soon afterwards, with rain coming down. It snowed on the higher parts of Towerkop that night, so we were fortunate to have had rather good weather, despite the strong wind.

I just love Towerkop. Many others feel the same way. It is a challenging, impressive and magic mountain in a beautiful and dramatic part of the Swartberg. Truly one of the classics in the Western Cape.

People who attended the meet: Members: Tony Bowen, Evie Bowen, Maretha Alant, Karin van Niekerk, Derek Odendaal (leader), Charles Smith, Ann MacGregor (Cpt), Ed Shuttleworth, Janine Smith. Visitors: Johan Huisamen, Theunis Schutte, Wynne Groenewald, Jacolise Joubert.

Derek Odendaal (meet leader)

Mountain Club of South Africa