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active kids Archives - A Familia Adventure

The south of Llandudno rocks.

The Lesser-known Llandudno Rocks

By | Beaches, Cape Town | No Comments

A recent foray up Little Lions Head had us looking down on Sandy Bay and the southern end of some of South Africa’s most prime real estate. Llandudno. Oh, how the sun shines brighter, the air smells sweeter, and the houses are built for royalty.

Our not being royalty means spending time in this neck of the woods puts us at a distinct advantage, we can truly appreciate it. The views are spectacular, the cleanliness top notch, and being relatively remote meant the rocks we chose to explore were entirely devoid of people.

There is a huge rocky outcrop that extends around the southern bend of Llandudno, sneaking in and out around the coastline towards Hout Bay. Exploring the section before Sandy Bay was a treat we’ve been anticipating for a long while. Saturday’s weather was perfect form for a morning next to the sea, so we gathered the kids, had a delicious breakfast at our local favourite spot, and hit the rocks.

The more popular Llandudno rocks to explore are at the northern end of the bay, there are almost always people hopping around the rocks and solitude is a luxury you don’t have there. Now I realise having two children means solitude is a luxury we don’t have anywhere, but I would happily pick the company of my kids in the outdoors. They are happy, inquisitive and respectful. Three qualities we constantly encourage, placing great importance on them in our explorations. So, taking my monkeys (including my husband) and hitting the lesser-known rocks on the southern end, was bliss.

If you park in the Sandy Bay parking and walk down the road instead of towards Sandy Bay, you will discover a path leading straight out to the rocks. There is no bush whacking required, and the rocks are almost touching the road.

The view is breath taking.

Arriving in the morning meant we were lucky enough to catch the last of the cool misty air, giving the bay a magical quality and making you feel even further away from the mundane. We were pleasantly alone, and allowed to roam the rocks, climbing, hopping, and appreciating the beauty that surrounded us. We found a perfect rocky cove where the waves swept in and out at a pace that allowed us to play in the water without being knocked over. The water was as expected, unequivocally frigid, but a beautiful fresh start to the warmer weather and the promise of spring.

 

This is a hideout I intend to visit often in the coming warmer months. If you looking for something a little off the beaten track, I would recommend giving these rocks a try.

Would I do this again?  This is an affirmative. Absolutely. Yes. Let’s go!

What to be aware of?  Llandudno gets the sun quite a bit later than the rest of Cape Town, being on the west side and all. So if you go early in the morning take a jersey, there can be a nip in the air.
Some of the rocks are quite knobbly, I would suggest a pair of flip flops or comfy shoes to go rock hopping in.

Enjoy! Xx

 

Bottoms up!

The Wuth Hiking Initiative – Teaching Children to Climb in All Weather Conditions

By | Cape Town, Hikes | No Comments

Cape Town is largely considered the cesspit of foul winter weather in South Africa, but those of us who live here know that that is simply not the case. The majority of winter days are mild, sometimes cloudy, but usually sunny affairs. This is a great place to live! With that in mind, we planned our Saturday hike in the great outdoors. What we didn’t take into consideration was Cape Town’s temperamental, often moody countenance. Yes, if Cape Town had a sex, it would be female.

Reports of a gentle breeze on Saturday turned out to be more of a blustery surprise, like finding tomatoes inside your macaroni, it was unpleasant. After being marginally deterred, but deciding we all needed the fresh air, we packed ourselves up and headed out the door, onwards and upwards, we were Little Lions Head bound.

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Perched on the ridge between Llandudno and Hout Bay, sits Little Lions Head, so named for its close resemblance to the real Lions Head which overlooks the city and Atlantic seaboard. It is the cute little sister, but with more rocks on her head. This of course suited our children down to the ground. It was that alone that spurred our children on, calling them to the top of the mountain, despite the persistent wind.

This was a first for our family. I mean we have been up it before, but Lincoln was about 7 months old and strapped to the back of his Uncle, while Lola, being just over a year and a half, was securely fastened to her dad. So as far as actually climbing this little nub of a mountain is concerned, it was a first for them.
It is a relatively easy climb, where you can enjoy views over the surrounding valleys and the Atlantic Ocean while not being too out of breath. It isn’t ridiculously high so can easily be managed, up and down, in under an hour and a half. We took longer, we hid from the wind a bit, lingered on the top and soaked up the sun’s rays, so spent about 2 and a half hours playing and shooting the breeze. No better place to do it.

After a nice, moderately steep walk up the side, you have to climb a few, rather rocky ledges to get to the top. They are fairly easy to negotiate, and the children climbed them (under our guidance) on their own. They need help with foot placements sometimes, but usually it’s just for our peace of mind. The entire top of the peak is rock and offers great hiding nooks for the kids to play in. On this particular outing our children were squirrels, and commandeered our entire bag of nuts. While they ate enough to see them through a winter’s hibernation, Shaun and I lay on the rocks in the sun, sheltered by beautiful granite boulders, and counted all we had to be thankful for. This mountain was definitely one of them.

 

Climbing down the rock was as fun as climbing up it, and I think the kids would quite happily have done it all over again if they weren’t being blown around like dust-bunnies in a vacuum cleaner. After issuing instructions like “bend over so the wind can’t blow you away!” we knew it was time to hasten a retreat.

Hasten we did. Lincoln slipped potentially 10 times while clinging to Shaun’s arm for support. Lola slipped once, but properly, covering about 3 meters, bruising her rump and grazing her hand. Thankfully Shaun and I stayed on out feet, enabling a swift and happy return to the road and thence our car.

It was a great morning out, despite Cape Town’s surprise wind attack, and all the therapy we needed after a rough week.

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Would I do this again?  Absolutely. It was a quick and easy climb, getting us relatively high up with a great view in minimal time. There was no one else on the mountain and we always enjoy a bit of solitude on our excursions. A big thumbs up, especially for the climbing.

What to be aware of?  I wouldn’t recommend the climbing for inexperienced or first time child climbers, but most able-bodied adults should be able to manage without a problem. I remember when we did this with the kids in backpacks I was terrified. I definitely wasn’t terrified this time, but then my experience has come a long way too.

Chapmans Peak Drive with a view to Hout Bay

Kids, Scooters and Mountain Passes

By | Cape Town | No Comments

On our quest to find exciting outdoor activities to do with our kids, we had over looked something as simple as taking them with us when we head out for our average exercise session. Our kids are no longer toddlers. We are no longer stuck in the phase of having to leave them at home when we go out training. But we’ve been doing this, because it just never occurred to us not to. We take them climbing mountains but don’t think them capable of joining us on our weekend runs (obviously not running too – they would need wheels). So we have recently set about rectifying this.

We have an incredible mountain pass on our doorstep, we can’t stake it as our own however, it is world-renowned. Visited by thousands of tourists every year, raced on by cars when shooting advertisements, and serves as the bane for many cyclists as they slog their way up it during the Cape Argus Cycle Tour every March. It is Chapmans Peak, home to some of the most outstanding views along the Cape Peninsula.

Every weekend both runners and cyclists alike take to the roads, many making their way through Hout Bay and over Chapmans Peak, or ‘Chappies’, as the locals lovingly refer to it. Cars travelling that route have learned that things will be a little slower, they’ll have to watch the road a little more carefully, and most sports people out to enjoy the morning respect the fact that cars need to use the road too. Every weekend Shaun and I join in the mix, running or cycling with the other folk set on enjoying the spoils of living in this city. Most recently, we let our children join in our morning fun, we let them breath the fresh sea air and stretch their legs while whizzing along the incredible coastal road.

After a bit of transportation scheduling, Shaun and I set out with the kids, their scooters, helmets, leather biking jackets and gloves in tow. To ease them into the idea (and because they had recently been down with flu), we drove to the top of Chappies so their first experience would be going down hill. All kitted out, we set off down the mountain. Lincoln threw himself into it without a second thought, his smile reaching from ear to ear as he hooked his scooter into the corners at a pace Shaun could barely keep stride with. Lola, in her gentle cautious manner, proceeded down the hill with one foot on the break, gently easing herself into the corners and glancing nervously at me to make sure I was alongside her. It was beautiful and peaceful on our end, exhilarating and fast on Shaun and Lincolns. The boys would wait for us every now and then, stopping to catch their breath until they could see we might go whizzing by, when they quickly leapt back onto the road to keep in Lincoln’s customary first position. He’s not one for sitting idly by while someone goes ahead of him, this is not reserved for scooters, bikes or walking, it applies to all sports, all of the time. He simply has no capacity for second place. Lola on the other hand, has all the capacity in the world. She is far more comfortable coming in second than she is coming in first. She likes to be one of the crowd, and she likes to be comfortable. This is something I am keenly aware of, as I suffered much the same fate for most of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love to come in first position, but not at the expense of being pushed out of my comfort zone. This is still something I am wrestling with. But my guess is that Lola is going to be skipping along mellow road for a while yet, and I shouldn’t be in any hurry to spur her on as I could only just keep pace with her at the bottom of our 5km scoot-run. She had garnered enough courage to have me running at a pace I generally reserve for 100meter sprints. It was awesome to see her courage building like that! I’m not sure I could go much faster.

Lincoln and Lola were both psyched when they reached the end and expressed an unquestionable desire to do it again. The scooters worked incredibly well but they both complained of 1 tired leg the next day, while in their more dramatic moments walked around dragging it behind them complaining it wouldn’t work. I guess this spells more practice 🙂

 

Would I do this again? 

Absolutely! It wasn’t only the kids who loved it. It was so great to be out as a family on an ordinary morning doing our training. We are crossing into areas we haven’t attempted before and it’s exciting to be able to do it as a family. This obviously wouldn’t work all of the time but for an average training session it was fantastic.

What to be aware of? 

Your kids must have a very good awareness of road safety, and they must listen to you at all times. You have to set the boundaries upfront and be firm. If they don’t listen, game over. Make sure your kids are kitted out in protective gear, without question a helmet, but gloves and a jacket are great too, they will prevent scrapes on minor falls.

Summiting Table Mountain … With Kids

By | Cape Town, Hikes, Parks | One Comment

Ok, so I know there are people who would argue with me when I say there is little better to do on a perfect day in Cape Town, than to head on a hike up Table Mountain, yes, on your feet – leave the cable car for the grannies and grandpa’s. But you can’t knock it until you’ve tried it, and it is beautiful. It is beautiful in a way you almost can’t describe. The way the sun hits the mountain and misty morning air with absolute peace. The sound of tiny creatures scampering through the bush desperately trying to flee the delighted cries of the children. The feeling of your heart pounding in your chest as you work your way higher up the side of the mountain, and the silence that meets you when you crest that final rise. Standing 1000 meters above the sea, looking down over Camps Bay, is nothing short of bliss. The quietness is strange at first, almost like you’re not sure what’s missing. You are completely removed from the constant droning of the cars, the incessant talking and hammering and barking. A bird chirping becomes a crystal clear sound, piercing the quietness, but then evaporating as quickly as it appeared. It’s magic up there.
This enchanted world isn’t lost on the kids either. They hear the quietness, they feel the peace, it’s taking them to a place where they can experience nature and see wonders in this world that can’t be bought in a store. It is such a vital experience for children of this generation to have, and not just once off either. When their everyday lives are constantly bombarded with images and sounds, flashing lights and perpetual adverts, they need to learn what it means to escape, to find their peace. Giving children some ‘quiet time’ is so often associated with veg’ing out in front of the TV or playing games on an iPad, when you compare that to real quiet time you realise how extremely twisted our notions of ‘quiet’ have become.

Lincoln running along the board walks on top of Table Mountain.

Lincoln running along the board walks on top of Table Mountain.

 

Our kids love the climb. We have learned that they prefer to climb rocky paths which require actual climbing, rather than hike a trail that requires only walking. They like to use their whole bodies, and they like the challenge of finding their own way over rocks in their path. It keeps the hike interesting for them, and saves us having to encourage them the whole way to the top.We have also learned they need frequent breaks, lots of little ones. Stopping for half an hour is actually more damaging than good as it lets the body relax and beginning the climb again is harder. Stopping for 1 minute every 10 minutes is great for them. They can have a sip of water and a small snack. It keeps energy levels up and gives them something to work towards. Telling them they have to keep climbing when they are needing a break is both dangerous and demoralising. Your wits have to be sharp but so do theirs, they need to be able to concentrate on their climbing and their balance. Regular breaks are key to that.

 

Watching your children reach the top of a mountain is one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent, especially when they are only 4 and 5 years old. You walked it too, so you know the effort that was involved and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t proud, it is a real achievement for them, and us of course, our inspirational pep talks were invaluable.

In our case, we climbed this particular climb a year ago with them, so we decided to extend a little further and hike across the top to the cable car. The walk along the top is extremely beautiful, you stroll through valleys filled with the largest Proteas I’ve ever seen, and climb rises covered with both ferns and fynbos. The vegetation is outstanding and the silence extends across all of it. We picnicked on a rocky outcrop with views over False Bay and across to Gordons Bay. We could see the entire mountain range that burned in the March 2015 fires, including Muizenberg, Kommetjie, Hout Bay and Camps Bay – our views were extraordinary.

 

Our rocky outcrop, and our views. Something extraordinary.

Our rocky outcrop, and our views. Something extraordinary.

 

Our travels across the top took us to Echo Valley, from where we could both see the cable car and hear the noise of the habitation. In the stillness and the quiet from where we had just come, the sight of the hoards was like crashing back to reality. We made a sharp b-line for the closest path to avoid the masses and began our descent down the mountain. What I neglect to mention is that in our haste to retreat, we chose to descend down a path that was ‘closed due to safety reasons’. If you choose to argue our sanity on this point I would not disagree with you. It was foolish and we were negligent.

What started as a peaceful, happy climb, deteriorated into dogged determination and perseverance based solely on the need to reach the bottom.

We ran out of water on the top, expecting to find a stream where we could fill our bottles, only to realise there is almost no water on the top of the mountain come March, the middle of the dry season. Just when we were turning into crusty semblances of our former selves, we found 2 puddles of water on the rocks that were the bane of our descent. We scooped those water swimmers aside and put our noses to the ground as we drained the fresh mountain water. It was our saving grace. Never have I been so happy to swallow unfiltered water lying dormant on a rock. Never did I think I would encourage my children to do so. After quenching our Sahara dessert thirst, what better way to celebrate than to sit down and have a good cry. As a pressure cooker does to release steam, so did I. My steam came out in big droplets, one at a time, each patiently waiting their turn, until I was once again calm. Nothing like a cry of frustration to ease the weight of knowing you made a bad judgement call, of knowing it when you made it but not listening, or recognising it for what it was. I knew the only way home was down, so we resumed our climb down the rocky ravine, guiding the children as they climbed down one immense boulder after another, passing them down to each other when the rocks where simply too high and too dangerous for them to climb.A 2 hour climb up, a 1.5 hour hike along the top, and a 3.5 hour hike down. What was meant to be a 4 hour hike turned out to be almost twice as long. After some choice language, nearly dehydrating, a good weep and a few discussions on when it would be a good time to call in a helicopter, we finally reached the bottom. We were all deflated, our feet hurt, and we were desperate for an ice cold drink, but we were down safely.The lesson to take from our epic hike, is don’t let the idea that you may have known better in the past, cloud your judgement on what you are currently attempting. When that more-than niggling thought tells you to stop and re-think your plan, don’t disregard it because in the past you have, and it turned out alright.

Shaun and I didn’t need to have the conversation on our errors up the mountain that day, we saw it in each others faces as we cuddled our kids before bed that night. While we tucked them in, congratulating them on their incredible tenacity during our adventure that day, I promised myself I would never take them down a closed route again. This was the last lesson I needed in that regard.

Closed route aside, it was an incredibly awesome hike! What an escapade.

 

Our family-selfie on the top of Table Mountain.

Our family-selfie on the top of Table Mountain.

Would I do this again?  

We will never do an unadvised route again with our children. But we will absolutely, one hundred percent, be taking them on the first part of this hike again! It was challenging, but an ideal hike for our family. We climbed up Kasteelspoort from Camps Bay.

What to be aware of? 

Plan! Plan! Plan! Stick to your plan. Changing your mind about the distance when you are half way through your hike is careless unless you know you have enough supplies on you. Running out of water is no joke. Realising you have no medical supplies on you when you need them is also no joke. Use the tips below!

  1. Have a map of your route and the surrounding area.
  2. Carry more food and water than you think you will need. Our kids eat significantly more than Shaun and I on a hike. This surprised us on our first major hike and Shaun and I had to go without in order to keep their energy up.
  3. Take a first aid kit. Just the basics. You’re packing light remember.
  4. Don’t walk an unadvised or closed route with your children! Putting yourself in danger is one thing, doing it to your children is iniquitous. This doesn’t mean you can’t do challenging routes, just stick to the advised paths.
  5. Tell at least one person where you are going before you leave.
  6. Take a phone with you, but keep in mind there may be no signal on the top of a mountain.
  7. Have the number for the mountain rescue service with you.
  8. Always carry a thermal, even on a hot day. The top of a mountain can have a vastly different temperature from that at the bottom.
  9. Pack a good sense of humour – things don’t always go your way!
  10. Remember you are there to have fun!!

If you have any hiking tips please feel free to share them.

Happy hiking!!