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Table Mountain Helderberg
We parked in the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch and climbed out of the gardens to the spookily named Skeleton Gorge. This was apparently Jan Smuts (South African premier during the Second World War) favourite way up the mountain. We walked part of the way up with a South African lady who complemented us on walking so quietly. We explained to her that this was not due to high moral principle, but to the fact that we had no breath left for anything but walking. She said we were going very strongly, and called us 'Four Little Smuts'. I hope it was a compliment. She then steamed off into the distance, leaving us for dead. Well, either you're used to the heat or you're not, that's my excuse.

We got to the top of the gorge and followed the path around the rim to the high point, Maclear's Beacon (1087 metres), which is basically a trig point writ large. After arguing about who was going to eat the emergency ham sandwich (nobody did, it was looking a bit crinkley) we walked across the top to the edge of the Central Table over Capetown. The views from the plateau are stunning, even with the usual Capetown smog.

We returned more or less the way we came, except that we climbed down Nursery Ravine to Kirstenbosch instead of Skeleton Gorge.

There is a much easier way up by way of the Table Mountain Cableway, which we had done a few days earlier. This doesn't give the masochistic pleasure of climbing in soaring temperatures though.

Total time about six hours. Distance 10.6 km.


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