Start – Contour Path (0-9km, 9kms) – Eat a Beast, one bite at a time!
Kicking off at first light, from the Newlands Forest Picnic site, the route begins on an upward slope. Taking in the Pine plantations, this initial section should be done conservatively, allowing your diesel engine to warm up. Beast is not a picnic!
Undulating through the trees, on easy trails for 4km, to the Old Barracks Ruins (1700), the first decent hill climb on Jeep Track lets you know you have arrived. Beware of descending, yodelling mountain bikers! At the top of the hill, you swing right onto the Hidding Loop, superb single track that links to the Woodcutters trail -a technical gem loaded with slippery roots and rocks.
A rapid descent through the gums as you enter Groote Schuur Estate (hence all the oak trees), and your second quad burner up a steep gravel track, and then the diagonal trail to the style, at the start of the Contour Path, under the Blockhouse. You’ve done 9kms. Turn left!
The Contour path does some contouring, but not much, should rather be called the Rollercoaster.
If wet, the board walks are treacherous, take it easy. It is a well walked trail, crossing several rivers, the water is drinkable. You will be rewarded with superb sun rise views over False Bay, looking at the distant Boland Peaks, which extend southwards to Pringle Bay. However, concentrate on your foot fall, especially at the ‘Aloes’ a scree slope crossing with multiple ankle breakers – ‘skeef’ rocks.
Nursery Ravine to Maclear’s Beacon – the Belly of the Beast (15 – 21km, 6kms)
If you have drifted off the Contour Path for tea in Kirstenbosch, you can gaze upwards at the magnificence of this excellent climb. Like a ladder, straight up! It is a direct 500m ascent, under the dramatic cliffs of Castle Rocks and Nursery Buttress. Nursery Ravine trail is in excellent shape, with a small section of dodgy scree near the top. At the top, Turn Left past the Cairn, there is fresh water at the small bridge, and then immediately Right (this is NEW), to head directly to Hely Hutchinson Dam, through Nursery Valley. (Not to Overseers Cottage per previous routing.)
At the Dam Wall, (a Cut Off Point) drop down to the metal ladder, and pop up onto the wall, to enjoy a flat, scenic crossing – an ‘energiser’ – of the wall. You are in the middle of Table Mountain. Continue past the Museum, to the start of Echo Valley Trail, at 17kms.
Echo Valley is proof of the ‘non flatness’ of Table Mountain. It is a quiet, seldom walked, medium tech section. Stay on course, as wrong trails left or right will add hours to your day. A Right turn towards Maclear’s Beacon, sends you to the Summit, over 1000 metres in the sky!
Eat your stash of grub, and dress for Winter.
Maclear’s Beacon to Corridor Ravine – All who wander are not lost! (20 -28km, 8kms)
Some of this event’s greatest tales emanate from this leg. Reports of Yetis, snowstorms, walking off cliffs. Be prepared! The route follows the front face cliff top path, it is easy to become disorientated in cloud and wind. Run with someone else. The trail is flat, until you reach the top of Platteklip Gorge junction, 2ndCut Off point. (If you are too slow, you will join the 30km route and descend Platteklip, continuing to the finish and a 35km outing).
From Platteklip, turn LEFT, and you are entering the top end of Echo valley, with zig zags and slippy boardwalks. Valley of Isolation, Valley of Red Gods make this a soul journey to help you along. You drop onto the Twelve Apostles trail and can look South towards Grootkop (which you do not reach), as you pass the halfway mark of 25kms, and soon turn RIGHT, down Corridor Ravine.
Big, chunky steps, concentrate!
Corridor Ravine to Kloof Nek – Your long training hours now makes sense, just believe! (28 – 34km, 6km)
If there is an easiest section of the Beast, this is it. A Cut off checkpoint awaits, so don’t dawdle along the Pipe Track. Good time to rehydrate, stock up on victuals, to prepare for some intense moments ahead.
Kloof Nek to Blockhouse – You are History, or part of it! (34 – 42km, 8km)
Once you have climbed up Kloof Corner, indeed cursing the warped humour of The Beast himself, you arrive at trailrunning heaven. The full contour path to the Blockhouse is a dream machine. All insane single track, with views overlooking the City, and beyond to Robben Island.
Wave at the Cable car as you pass below, keeping your eyes on the trail. You traverse Platteklip Gorge – natural water refill – and onwards to Saddle Path ascent. You are on Devils Peak, from where Van Hunks smoked his pipe and created the tablecloth …….. Past Oppelskop, enjoy the exposure of a high trail and soon pop out at the Mowbray Ridge descent, where you will WALK down slowly.
The Kings Blockhouse was built in 1795, so the British could take pot shots at any invaders. Like living inside Rubik’s Cube.
Blockhouse to Finish – Sting in the Tail (42 – 50km, 8km)
Hopefully the sun has not set, and you are using your own power to descend. First, a short loop ‘back’ along the lower contour path to reach Tafelberg Road, Turn Right. Short section of easy tar, and you are on the homeward straight. Gnarly downhill to Plumpudding, turn Right and staying above Rhodes Memorial on the jeep track, you will soon be on the 2ndof 3 horrible quad screaming hills. Follow markers to the final ‘Curve Ball’ and into the Picnic site for a Cold Beer, Hot Chocolate and Warm Hug.