Lion’s Head Run: Short, Tough and Ultimately Satisfying

Over the past few weeks we have had one or two days of intermittent sunshine to remind us that our blazing African champion has not forsaken us and that summer is a mere few months away. On these days I have looked out towards Table Mountain and Lion’s Head and told myself that the next clear day like this I would make an effort to ascend those ranges that were very nearly calling out my name. Then another Spring-like day would arrive and I would vow the same once more.

Yesterday, however, I actually followed through. What a champ! I pulled my gear out from the far corners of my wardrobe, dusted off my running shoes (though to be honest the only dust that came off them was from the roads I have religiously been slamming in the winter months, I try to make sure I get at least two or three runs in a week), packed a bag with a warm top just in case it was chilly up there and threw in a bottle of water and some energy boosters in the form of Pocketfuel (but more on that later, watch this space for an upcoming review!) and off I set…

The city roads were abuzz with mid-morning traffic but as I pulled into Heerengracht I saw the beautiful mane of the peak I was about to ascend rearing up in front of me. I dutifuly hauled out my phone and snapped a pic – Cudos. The sky was clear and the sun was bright as an African one should be, I was in for some good views.


Right from the get-go the roar of the Lion was edging me on

It always surprises me to hear someone say that they have never been up Lion’s Head. It’s one of the best short hikes you can do and is especially great on full moon nights, when the paths and peaktop are lit up to iredescence by the night sky. I’ve never felt the necessity of taking a torch with on these hikes but I would say take one with anyway,  just in case.

On this day though I decided to trade the leisurely stroll up the path for an all-out trail run, which is much more to my liking. Be warned, this can be a daunting task, especially if you decide to tackle the path head on and set off running from the initial joining path that ascends from the road. I prefer to take it easy on this little stretch in favour of not making my heart skyrocket (and I’m a relatively fit bloke, mind you) and wait for the “staired” section of the path before I begin setting any sort of serious pace. The paths are well maintained but I have known a few surefooted eager beavers who have come short on some gravel sections so if you’re going to attempt a run, know that you will be tired and you will be prone to a fall if you are not careful. Otherwise it is an amazing little run, especially on the descent, where you can pick up a lot of pace as you head off mountain-goating your way down the rocks. There’s a small climbing section with chains and ladders near the top of the path which also adds a bit of fun to the whole adventure.


Decent little view of Table Mountain from the parking area

You can expect to be greeted with some of the most spectacular views Cape Town has to offer, with Camps Bay, Clifton, the Twelve Apostles and Sea Point stretching out to the left of the plateu and Signal Hill, the city itself and the rest of Table Bay and its hinterlands sprawling out to the right. Of course, you are afforded one of the best views of Table Mountain at your back as well. All in all well worth the climb, even in the sometimes disagreeable weather…


Amazing view of the city, with Signal Hill to the left and Table Bay in the distance. On clear days you can pick up a number of far-off mountain ranges…

Do yourself a favour and check Lion’s Head out if you have never done so, it offers so many variations even on one path that it is a Cape Town “must do”… (oh, and the path sets off from the road that takes you to Signal Hill, look out for the hut on your left and a small parking area on your right- enjoy!!)


Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostle spread out in glorious form…

 by ‘Baywatch’ Bergemann

About Baywatch Bergemann

Baywatch Bergemann is a wayward, transient academic who would rather spend his time on the beach or on a hillside than in the classroom. We're thankful for that and that he chooses to spread his wisdom here rather than anywhere else.

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