Curious to run the myriad of Newlands Forest tracks, but unsure of exact routes? We take you to the heart of this magical playground, and beyond. Special Stage 3 features Newlands Forest, resplendent in its Spring attire, with extensions into Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and some lesser known trails on Table Mountain back-table for the XL.
If you’re heading to The Forest for the first time, you’ll be entering a piece of Cape history that is as layered as the dense canopies of the forest’s ravines. Newlands is a natural transition zone between endangered Granite Fynbos and Peninsula Shale Fynbos, in an area that also originally supported large indigenous forests. In the late 1800s, most of the indigenous forests were felled and the fynbos cleared, to make way for commercial pine plantations, which still remain.
The original inhabitants of the area were the Khoi-khoi, who migrated and herded their cattle over much of what is now the city of Cape Town. Jan van Riebeeck (the first Dutch governor of the Cape Colony) came across the extensive indigenous forests on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and called them collectively "Boschenheuwel". Due to the need for timber, the local afro-temperate forests were, by the late seventeenth century, being severely over-exploited, and the colonial government issued a series of (largely ineffectual) laws to protect the forests. By the close of the eighteenth century most were gone, excepting a few pockets on the steep upper slopes of the mountain. As indigenous wood supplies declined, the authorities decided to clear the eastern slopes of Table Mountain for commercial plantations. When the logging was eventually stopped, the final crop of trees remained un-harvested. There are efforts underway to restore the ratio of indigenous plants.
Rumours of haunted houses, crumbling old ruins and fairy spottings abound; something for every family member to explore.
Visit www.trailseries.co.za for your entry. This special stage is not to be missed.