TABLE MOUNTAIN, SOUTH AFRICA
If you’re looking for an adventurous twist to your regular Table Mountain hikes, tackle Blind Gully!
The route takes an interesting line between Porcupine Ravine and Blinkwater Ravine, topping out at the small cairn marking Blinkwater Peak (989m).
The views are unique – Blinkwater Needle is an iconic rock formation at the northern extremity of the Twelve Apostles range and seeing it from the upper ledges is something truly special.
Blind Gully is an adventurous route on a minor path that needs careful route navigating and although I briefly introduce you to the core details of this trail it should be emphasised that the ‘important info‘ at the bottom of the page be read. It is always advisable to head on the mountain prepared and ideally with someone who knows the route well. Book me, Justin Hawthorne, to show you this stunning corner of Table Mountain and walk away with a fuller hiking experience.
- Start/end – Kloof Nek
- Duration – 4 hours
- Distance – 8 km
- Altitude – 749m AMSL (Start 240m AMSL)
- Grade – B
- Exposure – High
- Water – Only after rain
Setting off from the Kloof Nek hub you’ll head along the Camp’s Bay Pipe Track for a gentle warm up. The perk of hiking here in the early morning is that it is largely in shade for the first few hours of the day if it’s a scorcher it makes a significant difference to your mountain experience.
I was confronted with wisps of cloud dissipating at the Needle…
The wind was howling, a gale-force southeaster brings the thick cloud over Table Mountain, but I was heading onto the mountain – tackling Blind Gully – a route that cuts towards the wind head-on! The initial slog up the zigzagging Diagonal Path got my heart rate up, and soon I was on the minor track leading up the steep and deeply shaded Gully. Topping out at the small saddle, I was confronted with wisps of cloud dissipating at the Needle and the wind relentlessly pushing the vegetation around like a cat toying with a mouse. I hunkered down behind the ridge, enjoyed my morning cup of tea (Cape Union 0.5L Stainless Steel Flask) and pulled on my Kilimanjaro ’12 Shell Jacket to brace against the cold wind. This jacket truly is an essential for the Western Cape Mountains: sufficiently waterproof in winter, and windproof for the summer.
Once scaling the upper ledges, the view of the iconic Blinkwater Needle is at its finest and it’s hard to resist photographing. This upper section of the adventurous trail requires attention as you scramble up an interestingly stepped line, with exposure to heights in places. The route then steepens and you pass through a thick stand of cone bushes and climbers friend, where long K-Way Men’s Explorer Kloof Trousers save your legs from a good scratching.
Reaching Blinkwater Peak is just reward for the steep, off the beaten track hike and the view towards the Upper Cable Station gives new appreciation to the mountain. The peak is not far from the main Apostles Path and the best is to continue northwards to reach the cable station for the ride down.
This is a personal account of a Table Mountain hike, and not intended to act as a route guide. For good mountain practice, try one or more of the following:
- Do the hike with someone who knows the route;
- Buy a guidebook, such as Table Mountain Classics;
- Join a hiking club, such as COMEHIKE Hiking Club (https://comehike.wildapricot.org/);
- Always carry a map – Slingsby Maps: Table Mountain;
- If in doubt, or wanting to get more out of the hike, hire an accredited mountain guide such as myself – Justin Hawthorne. Going with a guide adds huge value apart from peace of mind (navigator and safety on steep ground) but also intimate knowledge of Table Mountain including the ecology of both forest and fynbos. Check out Table Mountain Treks and Tours for more – http://www.tablemountaintrekstours.com/