On top of the world

Today was a beautiful day in Johannesburg.  Ashley and I had an appointment in Parkview with a potential client but we had some time to kill beforehand.  So we decided to get some takeaway lunch and hopefully find a place with a nice view to enjoy it at.

Now when we stayed in the Western Cape, we were totally spoiled for choice.  Whenever we had time on our hands we could go to the beach, we could walk along a river or one of our favourite spots was Table Mountain.  We would sit there and listen to the dulled hustle and bustle below…but felt quite far removed from it.

Ashley always bragged about the great view Northcliff ridge offered.  So today seemed like the perfect day to do it.  We meandered slowly up the hill and admired the great mansions.  We arrived at the public area of the ridge, an area of around 11 hectares which is controlled by City Parks and Johannesburg Water (JW).  It has a large water tower, a distinctive landmark, on the very top of the ridge, built in 1939.

72-year old water tower

I was not actually prepared for adventure as I was wearing smart (and slippery) pumps.  So Ashley had to literally pull me up.  It’s an easy climb to the viewpoint…and he wasn’t joking.  It is breath-taking!

360º view of Johannesburg

Northcliff ridge is Johannesburg’s second highest koppie at around 1 807 metres.  The city consists of a number of ridges and one of the most northern ones is Northcliff ridge, the site of early 17th century Stone Age settlements.  Here are more pics:


More views

Pathway in the sky

Shrike in the air

The tower has become a perfect nesting place for swifts but the ridge is also home to larks, kiewiets and shrikes.

Squatters also make the ridge their home when they get a chance. The result is that graffiti, broken bottles and occasional fires are a problem in the area. Although the gate is locked after sunset, people do gain access to the ridge and problems with alcohol and drugs have been reported.

But although the ridge is visible from most northern parts of Joburg, it is not as attractive as it used to be. Twenty years ago its soaring cliff faces and base was free of human habitation, and the tower stood tall. The ridge was originally called Aasvoëlkop, a reference to a time when its crevices were home to vultures, now long gone.

Unlike its counterpart, Melville Koppies, which was declared a nature reserve in 1959 and, when in 1963 an Iron Age furnace was uncovered, became a national monument, Northcliff ridge was never recognised despite the discovery of Stone Age artefacts on it. The artefacts have disappeared, as have the two Iron Age furnaces that were discovered on Hearn Drive, just below the ridge.

Read more here:

There is something captivating about being on top of hills, mountains and koppies.  Sometimes you literally just need to be on top of the world to feel on top the world.  It was perfect.  Great company, the sun on my face and a boerewors roll to chow on!

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