This short suburban pass is one of three that connects the Johannesburg CBD with the suburbs to the north, over the low rocky ridge that runs along the east-west axis. Stewart Drive connects the suburbs of Yeoville and Bellevue East with Bertrams and Judith's Paarl. Those older suburbs of Johannesburg have experienced a great surge of urban decay and today are considered dangerous, high-crime areas. Stewart Drive itself has earned the nickname of 'Snake Way' because of the high levels of muggings, attacks and even murders, that take place in the bushes along this little pass. Walking alone here can be life threatening. The nickname of 'Snake Way' is more likely due the serpentine like shape of the road. Either way, the nickname is appropriate.
This short suburban pass dates back to Johannesburg's early pioneering gold rush days and is one of only a handful of official passes in South Africa that are shorter than 1 km. Within that 900m of distance you will experience gradients as steep as 1:7, a full hairpin pin and many very old dressed stone walls on either side of the road. It connects Upper Houghton with Houghton. The low, rocky ridge that separates downtown Johannesburg from the northern suburbs is called Linksfield Ridge and this little pass is one of three that were first built to give residents of a rapidly expanding city, access to new places to live to the north. The other two are Stewarts Drive and Sylvia's Pass. The ridges cutting through Yeoville and Observatory/Linksfield are a natural barrier between the northern and southern areas of Johannesburg. These ridges were first populated in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The low, rocky ridge that separates downtown Johannesburg from the northern suburbs is called Linksfield Ridge. One of the roads that connects these two areas is called Sylvia's Pass. It is on record as being the shortest official pass in South Africa, but is nontheless quite steep along most of its length. The road forms part of the M33 suburban route and conencts the Observatory area with Orange Grove. Many locals prefer this route to the more congested Louis Botha Avenue.
Named after the little town of Van Reenen, which seems to stand guard at the top of this majestic pass which winds its way through the Drakensberg mountains between Ladysmith and Harrismith along the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the only record that the pass can lay claim to is that of the most dangerous pass in South Africa. Despite this, the long pass provides beautiful scenery as it descends towards Ladysmith in the KZN Midlands from the Free State.
Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
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