East Fort Hout Bay Trail to Skoorsteenberg – 22nd May 2016

East Fort Hout Bay Trail to Skoorsteenberg past the old Manganese Mines (1909), with some stunning views on offer towards Hout Bay, Little Lion’s Head, Constantia and towards Orange Kloof

We started the walk at the East Fort (1796) on the left hand side of Chapman’s Peak Drive on the Hout Bay side. From the Parking area on the left hand side of the road we followed part of the Hoerikwagga Hiking Trail along to the old Manganese Mines, that were in use from 1909 – 1911. Part of the Jetty can still be seen today dates back to 1909.

We stopped for our morning tea break around the old mines.

From here we headed uphill past Elephants Knee and Wrong Way Rock where we turned left to Skoorsteenberg. We walked past the turnoff so make sure to look out for the pile of rocks just off the side of the path.

We had lunch at the top with some stunning views towards Hout Bay, Little Lion’s Head, Constantia and towards Orange Kloof. After lunch we headed back down the same way.

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History of the Manganese Mines in Hout Bay: The Western Cape has a number of manganese deposits but the reserves are not large, and some have a high phosphorus level. In the Peninsula deposits were known and worked on Constantiaberg in 1880, but the best deposit is on the mountain slopes above present day Chapman’s Peak Drive, near Hout Bay. In 1909, Hout Bay Manganese Ltd was formed by A J Parker and a Mr Prior worked the deposit. In those days Hout Bay was a sleepy fishing village. Chapman’s Peak Drive hadn’t yet been built, and the roads to Wynberg and Cape Town were still untarred. So the best way of transporting the ore was by sea, and to get the ore there a 750 m cylindrical corrugated iron chute was made that ran downhill at nearly 45 degrees. From the workings at the top, ore was shovelled in to come rumbling down with a thunderous roar into a sump at the bottom. From there a crane hoisted the ore into cocopans, which were railed along a specially built jetty to an awaiting barge, and from there it was towed to an awaiting ship in Table Bay.

Click the link if you would like to know a bit more about the History of the East Fort Hout Bay

Thanks to Iain for organizing the hike. Feel free to join Soulful Nature Walks Cape Town Hiking Group, Retreats & Weekend Away