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Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge

Location: Kirstenbosch (pay to enter) or from Cecelia Forest along the contour path (free!)

Overview: These two routes provide the easiest and quickest ways up to (and down from) the Back Table from the east side.  They can be used as an up and down pair (either direction) or to link with many other routes to make circular trips.  

Can also be used to avoid the hot descent on the Atlantic side on summer afternoons by making an across TM traverse i.e. come up on the west side in the morning and go down the east side in the afternoon, assuming you can drop a car at both ends. 

Nursery Ravine: 
A pleasant shady walk in summer, but also usable in winter. Also useful as a descent route from many of the climbs on the East or West, especially in summer. The top of the Ravine involves some rough boulder hopping on large steps, which not all enjoy. There is also a ladder at the top which dogs cannot climb, so unless you have a small dog you can carry, or a very agile dog, this is not a 'doggy' route. 

Nursery - Key Statistics
Grade:  1 ** Shady most of the way. Lots of steps!
Height gain:  580mfrom 160m to 740m
Time:  2-3 hrs up, 1-2 down depending on route

Skeleton Gorge and Smuts Track:
One of the most popular routes up to the top of TM from the East side, linking with the Smuts track through to Maclear's Beacon. But the route should be done with care, especially as a descent route in winter.  From a century of use the ladders and rocks are very slippery when wet (and even when not wet) and there have been a number of deaths and serious accidents.  If wet, rather use Nursery Ravine as a descent route.  In fact, unless you can cope with steep ladders and slippery rocks, rather use Nursery as a descent route. Skeleton is not suitable for dogs. 

Skeleton - Key Statistics
Grade:  2 ** Easy scramble with ladders, but can be slippery so needs care
Height gain:  580m: from 160m to 740m
Time:  2-3 hrs up, 1-2 down depending on route

Route Description:
Both routes are well signposted and easy to follow, so no description is needed.  Follow the signs in Kirstenbosch up to the contour path (several options) and then onto the route up.  Or, a pleasant (free) alternative is to walk from Cecelia Forest, taking either the high or low contour into Kirstenbosch.  This works well if linking with one of the routes like Cecelia Ridge, Spilhaus Buttress, Constantia Corner or the Jeep Track.