Kasteelspoort to Reservoirs via Old Cable Way Station
If you haven’t done this hike, it is a definite must
On a very chilly August morning, Belinda and I joined the Cape Hikes group on a hike to the reservoirs on top of Table Mountain. If you are interested in finding out more about the group, send a request this Facebook group link.
How to get there
The hike starts in Theresa Avenue, Camps Bay. Click here for a more detailed map. There is a small area at the start of the trail in Theresa Avenue where you can park your vehicle. There are several published blog posts that ask hikers to be considerate when parking there so as not to upset the local residents. Please don’t park in front of driveways or park peoples’ vehicles in.
The Speedy Review
This is an extremely beautiful and challenging route. If you enjoy uphills and some scrambling, then this is the hike for you. Be sure to take something warm, especially if you start this hike early in the morning. Much of the initial part of the trail is in shadow, and if the wind is blowing, you will definitely get cold. You don’t necessarily need to take the same route down. If you park an additional car at another point around Table Mountain, you can easily use another route down the mountain. This hike is a great alternative to the usually congested Platteklip Gorge. Although the terrain is a little more tricky , the views are totally worth the extra effort.
Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints. Although dogs are allowed in Table Mountain National Park if you have a My Activity Permit we wouldn’t recommend taking a dog on this route. There are many areas where you will need to scramble, and even a big dog like Nina would not make it up those areas and would need to be carried.
The Nitty Gritty
It was still dark when we set off just after 07h00 on Saturday 05 August 2017. We headed off at 07h02 and walked up the cement jeep track. We were 12 hikers in the group. This was the first time that Belinda and I had used the Theresa Avenue entry point to Kasteelspoort. We would normally park at the Tafelberg Road MyCiti parking lot and walk along the Pipe Track from there. It is a much longer route though.We followed the jeep track as it zigzagged up the hill. Looking back over our shoulders we had a glimpse of the sunrise over Lion’s Head and Camps Bay.
At 07h11, we came to a fork in the cement jeep track and turned to the right. The distance covered to that point was 512 m.
Shortly thereafter, we took the shortcut path left off the jeep track [587 m]. At 07h15, we reached the Kasteelspoort trail signboard on the Pipe Track [672 m]. The elevation at that point was 299 m. The photo below was taken on one of my previous hikes.
At 07h18, we headed straight over the Pipe Track and headed up along the Kasteelspoort trail. Although Kasteelspoort is rated as a tough ascent route, and it is, it much preferable to Platteklip Gorge as it is quieter and a lot more interesting than a straight forward up and down stone staircase.
After about 30 minutes, we reached Breakfast Rock. The distance covered to that point was 1.5 km with a moving time of 35 minutes. The elevation was 549 m. This is an ideal spot to stop for a breather and to enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic Seaboard.
We headed off again a few minutes later. There was an icy mountain wind blowing which kept things fresh and lively. At 08h12, the trail had closed in toward a mountain stream and we were able to access the stream right next to the path. We had covered a distance of 1.9 km. The altitude at that point was 684 m.
About 5 minutes later, we reached the top of Kasteelspoort. The distance covered to that point was 2.2 km. There was a wooden walkway there with a round pillar displaying a map indicating the different routes radiating from that point. We turned right there and followed the signs for the Twelves Apostles Spine route to the reservoirs. This was the same route we had to take to get to the old aerial cable way station. At 08h24, we reached another stone pillar with a map displaying the various route options.
We turned right at the map pillar and followed the path to the old aerial cable way station. Belinda and I had not visited the site of the old cable way station before and we were looking forward to seeing what remained. I took some photos of the wooden and iron remains of the station as the sun started to gain traction in the sky. The distance covered to that point was 2.3 km with an elevation of 742 m.
Some members of the group crossed over to the far edge of the mountain and stood on an outcrop in front of the old cable station. The wind was quite strong and still as cold as ice. This is where I say something responsible like, “don’t try this at home” even though it’s highly unlikely that someone is going to have a 750 m high cliff in their back yard.
After spending a little time at the old cable way station, we returned to the stone pillar map and continued straight across and back on to the recommended route to the reservoirs. The path morphed into a jeep track which continued toward the overnight huts on the mountain. The surface of the jeep track changed from a grass and dirt track into a very rocky track.
At 08h46, we arrived at the untreated water fountain. The path we took was to the right of the circular pillar toward the Woodhead Reservoir and Constantia Nek. The distance covered to that point was 3.3 km with a moving time of 01h12. The elevation was 749 m.
We continued along the path and Woodhead Reservoir came into view on our left hand side. About 5 minutes later, we arrived at Woodhead Reservoir after covering a distance, to the middle of the dam wall, of 3.6 km.
History of the Woodhead Reservoir:
A plaque mounted on the wall of Woodhead Reservoir advertises that it was declared as a International Historic Civil engineering landmark. The plaque says the following:
“Built between 1893 and 1897, the Woodhead Dam was the first large masonary dam in South Africa. A regional water system with a major reservoir was a bold venture requiring difficult construction in a remote area. Innovative techniques, including an aerial cable way to carry materials, were needed.
The dam’s successful completion paved the way for sister dams that continue to supply water to Cape Town and environs and established young Thomas Stewart, the engineer who designed and managed the project, as a leading water engineer and reliable consultant. Stewart is known as the Father of Consulting Engineering in South Africa.”
At about 09h00, we reached the other side of the dam wall and turned left on to a cement road. This road followed the Woodhead Reservoir toward the Hely Hutchinson Reservoir. The road goes all the way to Constantia Nek. About 5 minutes later, we crossed over a cement bridge near to the Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir. The distance covered to that point was 4.3 km with a moving time of 01h28. The altitude was 737 m. After crossing the bridge, we turned right and climbed up a ladder on to the wall of Hely-Hutchinson.
We walked across the dam wall in the direction of the Water Works museum. It is incredible to think that the Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir was completed way back in 1904. How they got all of those heavy blocks up there to build the dam is beyond me! There is an alternate route along the bottom of the dam wall which is used by runners and dog owners alike. At 09h17, we reached the Water Works museum which was closed. We have never found the museum open in all the times we have visited it. We had a welcome snack break there for a little while. The distance covered to that point was 4.8 km with a moving time of 01h36. The Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir was nice and full. You are not allowed to swim in it, but I can imagine that it would be difficult to resist on a hot summers day. It is a source of drinking water for the City of Cape Town so I completely understand the prohibition.
After a 15 minute break, we finished up and headed off along the cement road leading away from the Water Works museum. We walked along the cement road and on to the jeep track and turned right at the rock pillar toward the top of Kasteelspoort.
At 09h53, we reached the top of Kasteelspoort again, turned left and headed down Kasteelspoort. This route was just as tough going down again.
It took about 20 minutes to reach breakfast rock again and we carried on passed it without stopping. The distance covered to that point was 7.1 km with a moving time of 02h16. After another 25 minutes, we reached the Pipe Track and continued straight across it. The total distance to that point was 7.9 km with a moving time of 02h36.
At 10h40, we reached the cement jeep track and turned right toward Theresa Avenue, Camps Bay where we had started the hike. In just under 10 minutes after re-joining the cement jeep track, we had completed the hike with a total walking distance of 8.6 km and a moving time of 02h46. The total walking time was 03h46.
We walked a total distance of 8.6 km. There are no distance or trail markers for this route.
The hiking stats for this hiking route were:
|Trip Odometer||8.6 km|
|Moving Average||3.1 km/h|
|Overall Average||2.3 km/h|
|Max Speed||9.8 km/h|
|Elevation||189 m – 761 m|
I have attached a GPS trip log for the hike, including a side elevation profile. Click on the images to enlarge them.