On the 26th June 2023, Johan Fourie led a group of eight on the Devil’s Peak circuit. We were fortunate to have reasonably good weather, considering it was during a period of record rainfall.
A group of enthusiastic hikers started early, hiking at brisk pace along Littlewort trail and then Woodcutters trail. Just as one thinks it cannot get better with the beauty of sunrise in Newlands forest, the sound of birds singing, and streams gushing down, it does, with the sight of the beautiful waterfall in First Waterfall Ravine. We did a quick outfit change to prepare for some bundu bashing to enter the very overgrown trail into First Waterfall Ravine, above the waterfall on the Contour Path we had just visited. Much emphasis was placed on how treacherous this ravine is and generally one would only (cautiously!) explore to First Waterfall Wall, a reservoir that previously supplied water to the King’s Blockhouse. This spot provides a good view into the ravine, with a beautiful stream and falls after the recent rains, while some impressive cliffs and Knife Edge loom above.
Returning to King’s Blockhouse we had a snack break and then started the scramble up Mowbray Ridge. Conditions were more windy at this stage but everyone confirmed that they were comfortable to continue and extra special care was taken along the exposed rock steps. A quick visit to the old Fire Lookout resulted in some amusing comments on its “backdated graffiti”. Soon afterwards we started traversing along the 700 meter contour, encountering some beautiful pincushion proteas and other flowers. Visibility was restricted due to the cloudy conditions but we were aware of the imposing rockface and Knife Edge now on our lefthand side, while we carefully navigated a few narrow ledges with big drops to the right. The first section of the 700 meter contour from Mowbray Ridge is currently rather overgrown and it’s not recommended venturing here wearing shorts!
From the Oppelskop side, high up along Devil’s Peak we were subjected to very strong winds, reminding one of these poetic words:
‘There is, for instance, the Devil’s Peak – a perfect poem in itself, as it rises grandly over the military lines … It stands out boldly against the sky-line … a perfect battle-ground for the winds …’ (A diary entry of ‘A Lady’ – 26 August 1861).
This and some other interesting info on Devil’s Peak can be found here: https://www.gatewayguides.co.za/Gateway_Guides/Home_files/Devil%27s%20Peak%20Guide.pdf
As we hiked towards the Saddle we were slightly better sheltered from the wind and visibility improved much as we descended Newlands Ravine. A final break at the wooden picnic carousel on the Contour Path and then the final stretch back, arriving at the cars around 14:00. This was an interesting circumnavigation of Devil’s Peak along lesser frequented trails, around 14 km total distance with an elevation gain of 1050 meter. Thanks to the members who joined and were so enthusiastic and adventurous!