Discover Silvermine: A walk on the West side
While its name doesn’t instantly conjure idyllic images of a pristine nature-lover’s haven; if you visit Silvermine, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
In 1675, prospectors believed that the mountains in the area contained silver, but when shafts were sunk to locate it, there was in fact no silver to be found. The name held fast, but today we are lucky to have this beautiful piece of nature, preserved and unblemished by any kind of mining.
Fortunately, Silvermine was declared part of Table Mountain National Park in 1998. And while human development has left its mark (the reservoir you see there was built in 1898 to be used as a water supply), since 1912 it has been preserved as a valued space for fynbos conservation and a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Reserve is divided into two parts, split down the middle by Ou-Kaapse Weg, with the West side contained by a gate and a park entrance fee of R30 required, and the East side openly accessible to the public with a small conservation fee of R5 per car parked.
Both areas are rich with tracks and trails to explore, but this week’s focus is on the West. A hiker’s, picnicker’s and nature-lover’s dream, this is a must-explore found right on our doorstep.
Things to do in Silvermine West:
- Swim: The reserve’s glistening reservoir is full of chilly, Rooibos-tinged water and makes a very inviting spot for a swim. In the early mornings and evenings, you might find athletes traversing its length, training for their next aquatic challenge. For the less energetic, the dam is perfect for lazy lilo sessions and cool dips after soaking up some rays.
- Picnic: A wooden boardwalk skirts the reservoir’s perimeter, leading to swimming spots and picnic hideaways on both sides of the dam. Bring a picnic and park right on the water’s edge to keep an eye on the kids in the shallows – you’ll find it hard to imagine that you are anywhere near a city!
- Hike: Hiking is the jewel of this reserve, and there are shorter and longer options for varying exercise appetites. The River Walk meanders along the river’s tree line, from the gate up to the reservoir, taking about 1.5 hours up and the same down. Otherwise, do a 2.5-hour loop to Elephant’s Eye Cave, a lovely shady hideout for a hiker’s picnic with great views over Cape Town. Also not to be missed is the Noordhoek Circuit, a 3-hour round trail, which takes you onto some of the reserve’s top ridges with magnificent views over Noordhoek Valley, Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak.
- Mountain bike: Get a permit and see the area by bike instead. The 7.5km Silvermine mountain bike trail goes from the gate past the reservoir and up to Noordhoek Peak. Limited distance covered, but views for miles!
1. Silvermine Nature Reserve – An oasis of fynbos for hiking & relaxing, Noordhoek CapeTown | Cape Point Route [Internet]. Capepointroute.co.za. 2017 [cited 8 May 2017]. Available from: http://www.capepointroute.co.za/moreinfoOther.php?aID=520