Unique mountain-top accommodation for 18 Scouts, overnighting in a historic stone hut on top of Table Mountain.
The Scout Hut on Table Mountain is the best hiking venue available to Scouts in the Western Cape. It is situated near the dams on the Back Table, with easy hiking access from Kirstenbosch, Constantia Nek, Kloof Nek or Camps Bay.
Overnighting on Table Mountain is only allowed in a small number of mountain huts. SCOUTS South Africa Association maintains one of these huts for use by Scouts. The hut is heavily used and is usually fully booked at weekends and during school holidays.
The hut has comfortable bunks for 18 people, 12 in the main area, and 6 in a separate room. There is a separate kitchen area with counters, shelves, and a sink with running water. There is a large fireplace with grids for cooking. You should carry your own firewood or charcoal to the hut, because you are not allowed to collect wood in the Table Mountain National Park. The hut has a bathroom with a toilet and basin, and a shower (cold water).
The Jeep Track (Bridle Path) from Constantia Nek: follow the track all the way to the Woodhead Reservoir. Hike across the dam wall, and carry on to the Scout Hut under two or three large pine trees.
Skeleton or Nursery Ravine from Kirstenbosch: both ascents reach the Back Table at Hely-Hutchison Reservoir. Take the concrete road past this dam to Woodhead, cross the dam wall and find the hut under the nearby pine trees.
Kasteelspoort from Camps Bay or Kloof Nek Corner: from Kloof Nek, follow the Pipe Track along the contour until the Kasteelspoort turnoff. At the top of Kasteelspoort follow the raised path (which was once an old railway track) and you will see the hut off to your left.
Woody Ravine or Corridor Ravine are similar to Kasteelspoort, but a bit further South.
These routes take between 2 and 4 hours. The routes below take longer:
Platteklip Gorge from Tafelberg Road: this route takes you right to the top of Table Mountain, which is quite a bit higher than the Scout Hut. Descend gradually via Echo Valley or take a longer route via Maclear’s Beacon reaching the Back Table at Hely-Hutchison Reservoir.
Llandudno Corner at the end of the Twelve Apostles is another possible ascent, quite a long distance to the south of the hut.
Around the Scout Hut
The area around the hut has a rich history, since five stone reservoirs were built in the area between 1887 and 1907. The hut itself was an overseers hut during the construction of the nearby Woodhead Reservoir and Hely Hutchison Reservoir.
About 500m from the hut, a Waterworks Museum tells about the dams. Nearby are the quarries used to build the dams, and an old railway track runs from there to the top of Kasteelspoort, where you can still see the remains of the top of the old Camps Bay ropeway.
The area around the hut is known as the Back Table, and in the evening the hut has amazing sunset views. The Back Table is rich in fynbos including gladiolis, proteas, and restios (reeds).
From the hut you can do a morning’s hike to Maclears Beacon or the top cable station via the Valley of Isolation, or Southwards to Grootkop, the largest of the Twelve Apostles.
Weather on Table Mountain is difficult to predict and can become extreme at any time of year, so hikers should be well prepared, familiar with the route, and willing to change to Plan B, or to turn back (“Plan C”) if conditions are too extreme for the party. Heavy wind, thick mist and rain are possible at all times of year.
The stone building is more than 100 years old, and was built to house overseers during the construction of the Woodhead Reservoir between 1887 and 1907. It has been in use by Scouts since 1965.
Article on the Scout Hut, courtesy of the Western Cape Scout Heritage Centre:
Dommisse Hut (1941-1965)
From 1941 until 1965, Scouts had use of the Dommisse Hut in Ash Valley. When the Scouts were first given access to the hut in 1941, it was in a very bad condition, and over the next few years it was restored, and officially opened on 2 January 1945. In 1951 the Scout Mountain Club (SMC) had its first meeting at the hut.
Although the hut was ideally situated and well used by Scouts, water was scarce, and vandalism became a problem. In the 1960s, the Council was approached for access to another hut, and in 1965 the Dommisse Hut was closed and Scouts moved to the present SMC Hut. The Dommisse Hut (now called the Ash Valley Hut) is now used by the Western Province Mountain Club.