But an approaching cold front forced a change in plans. The rain wasn’t heavy, but a contumacious northwester wind picked up and blew a gale. When we looked up at the top of the mountain from our cottage, the clouds were flying across it’s summit, like those documentaries you see of Mount Everest when someone is just about to die. Okay, this is only Twaalfuurkop of course, but still, the wind looked hectic.
The gale didn’t let up. For two days it blew and blew - and blew. At night we hunkered down in our cottage, fire blazing in the corner, listening to the howling wind screeching outside. I did not want to be on top of a mountain right then… Apparently Swellendam is one of the windier places in the country during winter, when westerly winds whip across the Agulhas Plain and get compressed against the steep Cape fold mountains. The wind farms in the Overberg are suitably positioned, clearly.
The next morning the wind let up just a little, and we certainly didn’t want to spend the day in the cottage, so we made for Die Plaat, which as the Afrikaans name suggests, is a plateau half way up the mountains, at about 600 metres. After a relatively easy ascent via Doktersbos, the easy contour path winds its way through pristine fynbos, including a splendiferous and flirty purple species of Erica that shone luminous in the bright sun. (I must ask my blommetjie expert friends which species it is…)
Die Plaat’s path is circular, and takes you above the forests in the kloofs where we had walked the previous day. Along the way, the streams and rock pools make for good swimming, but we just dipped our toes in. The wind was icy!