Newlands Ravine – from Kirstenbosch via Newlands Forest

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Newlands Ravine – from Kirstenbosch via Newlands Forest

My husband and I have never been routine people, we like to get out and explore different places (preferably mountains) every weekend – we love trying new things, experiencing new places and meeting exciting new people. But, to be honest, recently we have found ourselves getting into a rather gorgeous Sunday morning routine, which, if we don’t shake soon, could suck us in for life. This new routine involves an early morning breakfast at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room (which I highly recommend) followed by a trail run, usually decided while eating breakfast and inevitably chosen based on how much coffee I have had and how adventurous I am feeling. There is nothing better than gazing up at our beautiful mountain, while mug after mug of coffee is consumed, knowing that soon we will be lost in her forests and pounding along her trails.

This Sunday, as per our new routine, we were at our usual spot eating breakfast, when my husband declared that today we were heading up Devil’s Peak. I calmly pointed out that Newlands Forest would have been a more preferable place to start this adventure. That was met with scorn and the next thing I knew we were tripping, tumbling and being chased by bees as we ran/stumbled along the Contour Path from Kirstenbosch to the base of Newlands Ravine. I have to be honest I love to walk this path, but it isn’t my favourite run and I ended up kind of skipping/tripping/doing a weird walk-dance-run thing along most of it. Large sections of it are so rocky that unless you have ankles of steel it is not a pleasant experience running. I know, I know, guys and girls run it every day, but they are clearly made of tougher material than I am, so while hubbie ran ahead I tripped and tumbled my way along. That being said, this route is beautiful and every now and again you hit a section of path or boardwalk where you really can fly. It is just short of 5kms from the Tea Room to the base of Newlands Ravine, but don’t be fooled that this is a gentle and flat run, this part of the Contour Path certainly reminds you that you are on a steep mountain with some unexpected inclines and sudden descents.

Newlands Ravine is one of my favourite routes up Table Mountain and it is our preferred route when heading up Devil’s Peak – from the saddle it is a gorgeous and easy run/hike to the summit. Clouds were starting to pour in as we started our ascent and as our knees took a beating the spectacular view, that really makes Newlands Ravine so incredible, started to disappear and then my husband disappeared and then my feet disappeared and soon I could barely see my hands. Shrouded in thick cloud I slowed substantially – I had no intention of running off the side of the mountain. 35 min later I reached the saddle, in triumphant celebration, only to be hit by gale force winds and even thicker cloud that I presumed hubbie was lost in. On Table Mountain you have to know when to call it quits and between the thick cloud, strong winds and our now slower running time we decided to head down.

Running down Newlands Ravine is not for the faint hearted, it is very steep, rather slippery and there are definitely rocks and roots out to get you. If you are a new trail runner or a nervous trail runner I don’t suggest this as a run just yet, rather enjoy a slow hike down enjoying the views. We reached the bottom in just under 20 min (too fast for me, far too slow for my husband) and set off back to Kirstenbosch. Once again the ankle snapper path isn’t great to run on, but look out for the Kirstenbosch Gardens and Newlands Forest sign and head down it (thus cutting out a big part of the Contour Path) – this path is a fun and easy downhill run and eventually meets up with a jeep track that winds above SANBI’s office and takes you back into Kirstenbosch, where you finish up at the Tea Room (go spoil yourself with a much deserved ice cream). Just over 11kms makes this a great Sunday morning run/hike.


Sarah-Leigh Watson

After qualifying with a BA in Journalism and African History from Rhodes University, Sarah went on to qualify as a FGASA registered Game Ranger where she spent time in the South African Lowveld pursuing her passion for wildlife photography and nature conservation. Sarah joined TMF as a private consultant in 2011, to manage the Fund’s communications and marketing needs. Having grown up in the shadow of Table Mountain, Sarah is deeply passionate about the conservation of the mountain and the broader Cape Floral Region.

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