Helderberg Farm: A Family Friendly Adventure. Nestled on the western slope of Helderberg Mountain, a short distance off the R44, Helderberg Farm provides breathtaking views of False Bay to Stellenbosch Winelands and plenty of outdoor adventure.
Established in 1695, Helderberg Farm is a nostalgic journey for the person with a soul child. Fields of vines, strawberries, and cabbages in season; the friendly farm workers with toothless smiles as you wave to great them. Today I chose to take my mountain bike for a test of physics, however, the farm welcomes trail runners and hikers alike. There are many more activities for those less inclined to face the burn and adrenaline. Jungle gyms and animals surround the reception area and tea garden and you can even drop your pooch off at the “Doggie Pub”.Although, slightly more expensive than other trails on the peninsula there is that added bonus of being able to bring the whole family along while you rip up trails that have recently been rebuilt to international standards.
There are various routes for all skill and fitness levels.Meander farm roads and paths through forest and fynbos or feel the burn on ascents like Bikini Beach and Heartbreak Hill. Ultimately the full experience of this ride will grind you up a mountainside where the panoramic views are heavenly and the ride down is a hell-bending adrenaline rush. Feel free to drop out at any time. Technical descents around steep turns and rock gardens will leave you disk brakes sizzling. The downhill tracks used for professional competitions form part of the more experienced routes and is a jump after berm experience. The distances are a good variation of two, three, ten and twelve kilometers. A great place to gain experience and build your fitness. For beginner and amateur riders, this is a great spot to bring your soft tail. For those of us with the die-hard-tail, be prepared for a sore tail.
The farmland boasts various vegetation. Sweet smelling pine forests, blue gum (eucalyptus) plantations at the base of the mountain and Fynbos at the top the trails. This time of the year you can see the spring flowers of the most diverse plant kingdom on earth. Home to our national flower the Protea shines brightly in the afternoon sun. Catch a small shrew or mongoose race across the path or a Dassie (Rock Hyrax) on the higher lying rock faces. The bird-life bustles with various species. Today I spotted a Cape Batis which is a new addition to my life list.
Reflecting on this adventure I remember fondly, sunshine beams enchanting the forests and heavenly views from the top of the trails. The Peninsula Mountains peaked above silver clouds as the afternoon sun illuminated the valley below. I was on top of the world. The warm smell of spring, blooming flowers and the peace and calm of buzzards riding the thermal pockets above me. The moon rose brightly above the Helderberg as the sun fell softly into the horizon. Crisp clean air sent shivers across my hot and tired body as I reached the highest point of the trail. The sweat and burn of the climb subsided and adrenaline started coursing through my veins. I dropped into a steep descent and my bike started shuddering and shrieking. The technical turns and drops of the harder sections got me off my a couple of times but for an amateur the rush was fantastic. Racing down, dropping off rocks and jumping on air into the sunset. I felt like I was soaring with the raptors. My body was used. A wild heart infused with nature. Legs covered in dust and mud mirrored a young farm boy. I was back at my car and reflecting on a challenging and uplifting adventure. I had arrived with energy and excitement and left with memories and joy. Once I knew a young boy racing down the slopes of his dad’s farm on his blue BMX. Today I saw him again; today I experienced the boy in me.