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Dingaan's Ridge

Location: Ridge out of Disa Gorge about halfway up frpm the tunnels to Woodhead Reservoir.  

Overview:delightful short easy scramble on a ridge above Disa Gorge.

Key Statistics
Grade:  3 **** Many variations possible
Height gain:  520m: from xxxm to xxxm
Time:  4 hrs up, 2-3 down depending on route

Route Description:

A permit is necessary (maximum 12 people), and can be obtained from Table Mountain National Park. Any time of year is good, but obviously inadvisable to walk when the rock is wet.

Start from Constantia Nek car park and enter Orange Kloof through the gate marked ‘Waterworks’ along a tar road. After a short time, turn right through a boom on a dirt road.

As the road flattens out, there is a large area below where trees were felled by an ingenious method of lifting the cut trees on a pulley system. This method protects the soil to enable indigenous seeds and bulbs that have lain dormant for many years to grow.

Continue along the ring road to a waterfall running underneath a weir. This is Original Disa Stream, 30 min. To the right of the waterfall is a bushy path that eventually leads to De Villiers Reservoir.  However, your route continues along the road, which flattens out and runs parallel to the ridge of the Back Table. Soon you reach the next main path and Disa Gorge, 20 min.  Ascend the well-marked path to a junction, 15min. 

For those who wish to make a detour and see the Woodhead Tunnel, take the left fork down to the river, where you cross on a ‘sleeper’ bridge, followed by a flat path to the tunnel. Return to the junction and continue along the path upper path that runs parallel to the river. Take this upper path, following a line of telephone poles, 15 min. 

Just after the fifth telephone pole, and where there is a row of trees, go right off the path up the slope. You need to leave the path, on the upward side, following cairns and a vague path. Keep to the rock as much as possible, crossing an upper sloping knobbly rock. 

There are many variations of this route but this description is by the geriatric hippie, Dave Carter. He is not a cairn builder but marks his routes very subtly with two rocks at strategic points, for which you will need eagle-eyes.  The rock scrambling portion climbs 100m vertically and a 100m horizontally, but with a (welcome) tea break in the middle. This 100m can take 1 to 1 ½ hours to complete.

Head for a bulging rock high above, marked by a narrow gully below and to the right of it. Scramble on the rock to the right of the gully and then go right on a ledge around the corner and up a crack. Go left on top of the ledge, and then scramble up the rocks, up a chimney and then straight up the rock. Cross to the right heading for an overhang, where you will probably have to remove your backpack.

Scramble up the rock for a short distance and then traverse to the right through vegetation. Then scramble again up rock and thereafter go left and underneath a large overhang. This is another point where it may be necessary to remove packs. On the opposite end of the ledge, scramble immediately up a crack and proceed on rock for a short distance, then right to the final overhang.

This is a wonderful view point across to the rounded dome of Grootkop, as well as the ‘Flying Saucer’ rock at the top of Corridor Ravine, with the Back Table in the opposite direction.

There is one final pitch to end this little gem. Scramble up to the overhang and either climb through the crack or continue left along the ledge and then scramble up the rock to the top, 45 min.

In the direction of the reservoirs you will see a large cairn. Head for this. Continue along the ridge, keeping to the rock and not treading on the moss, 15 min.

You eventually join a path which leads to the main concrete road, at the end of Victoria Reservoir, 15 min.

Route finding: Difficult on the scramble.  The GPS track will help find the start but is of little use on the rock portion of the route because of intricate ledges and overhangs.  Follow the cairns – and your common sense! D Carter, P Carter and party designed this route on 16 December 1978, on what was then named Dingaan’s Day, after the Zulu king. It is a delightful short easy scramble on a ridge above Disa Gorge.


The old Woodhead Tunnel, built in 1891, is marked with the names of the consultant and engineer, T W Cairncross and R Edson. T Brown and son were the contractors.

Work started on the Woodhead Tunnel in 1887 with a plan to cut a tunnel through the Twelve Apostles and bring water from the untapped Disa Stream to the Camps Bay side of the mountain. From here it was fed by gravity through a 700m long pipeline to Kloof Nek and then to the Molteno Reservoir on the slopes of the front of Table Mountain.

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s five storage dams were built on top of the mountain to augment the supply of water to both Cape Town and the suburbs.

Mountain Meanders,
Oct 9, 2016, 7:55 PM