Woodstock Cave Hike is a memorable trail that starts from Rhodes Memorial on the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Devils Peak.
A relatively easy hike, however, in winter, be prepared for slippery clay trails up and down the mountain. This clay is the sedimentary layer of soil that makes up part of the geology of this ancient mountain complex.
As we departed the car park, up the slope, towards the King’s Blockhouse, we were covered in a canopy of Stone Pine Trees. These trees were imported from the Mediterranean, as according to mining magnate and politician Cecil John Rhodes, they made for a more aesthetically pleasing mountain side. Little did he know of the rich natural diversity that lay above him?
Off the jeep tracks, there are a number of trials that cut through the side of the slope. From these tracks, you can choose a variety of trails that boast thick fynbos. The most apparent on the initial ascent was the Silver Trees, the largest of the Protea family. Their leaves glistening like tinsel in the sun.
Looking back towards Rhodes Memorial I reminded my guests of the imperialist history of South Africa. The memorial stares out into the continent of Africa, where Rhode’s was fixated on building a railway line from Cape Town to Cairo, strengthening British Imperialism.
Halfway through the hike, you can relax at the King’s Blockhouse. This national monument formed part of the British line of defence from the late 1700s. The strategic importance of this point of interest is apparent in the panoramic views of both Table Bay and False Bay.
The trail from the blockhouse to the slope below the cave is flat and easy. This is my favourite trail on the hike. The Erica Baccans with its beautiful pink bulb flowers were all over. Soothing spring streams cascaded down the slopes were refreshing to drink from. A mystical cork tree forest teaming with Cape Turtle Doves in search of an insect snack. Your legs will enjoy the rest before the final ascent to the cave.
The trail turning off the contour path is clearly marked among a cluster of Sugar Bush Proteas. The electronic call of the Cape Sugar Bird showed us the way. We zig-zagged up to the cave, where we were surprised by multiple waterfalls that curtained her entrance. The sun filtering rainbows through the mist, this place was truly magical.
As we rested in the mouth of the cave I spoke of ancient hunter gatherer tribes who would have inhabited this cave and looked down on white sand beaches which are now covered with grey cement.
One of my guests spotted a Cape Grey Mongoose coming to investigate what left overs were forgotten by hikers. A reminder to clean up and leave nothing but footprints. Red Winged Starlings darted in and out of the cave for the same reasons but only to find we had taken the trash with us.
The descent is the same direction as the ascent but you can take alternate trails that web their way down to the Rhodes Memorial Car Park. With a peaceful tea garden at the memorial, we enjoyed a snack, watched an array of birds drink and bathe in the fountain and reminisced of our hike through some interesting nature and history of South Africa.