Blackhill Pass (M6)

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Boulders beach with its famous penguin colony Boulders beach with its famous penguin colony - Photo: Wikipedia

Another scenic suburban pass near Cape Town that connects the Peninsula villages of Sun Valley and Noordhoek with Simonstown via a wide, safe and modern road, better known as the Glencairn Expressway which carries the M6 route tag. The 5,39 km long road descends 139 vertical metres, producing an average gradient of 1:39 with the steepest sections being at 1:14. The road is popular with cyclists as a hill training route and offers wide safety shoulders. Simonstown is the most southerly town on the Cape Peninsula and boasts a host of scenic attractions.

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Digging into the details

Getting there
: From Noordhoek head south out of the village on the M6. At the big four-way intersection, proceed straight on and continue up the hill which curves away towards the right, marked Simonstown / Glencairn Expressway.

This is a modern road built to good engineering standards and is suitable for all vehicles. Be aware that a range of speed limits apply and that the road traverses the Brakkloofrant Nature Reserve. The road was originally called Blackhill Road, but is today better known as the Glencairn Expressway.

Roman Rock LighthouseRoman Rock Lighthouse / Photo by Cape Town Sport PhotographyThe ascent begins immediately after the intersection at Sun Valley and climbs past a housing developement on the left through a wide and well designed S-curve which heads towards the low point with the Brakkloofrant ridge lying to the left. The initial three lanes (two ascending and one descending) blend into a standard two lane road with good safety shoulders as the road climbs fairly steeply at a gradient of 1:16.

The summit of 144m is reached at the 2,3 km point, where one can enjoy lovely views down the valley over Simonstown and False Bay. Simpntown's famous Roman Rock lighthouse can be seen and is well worth viewing from closer when you reach the village. The lighthouse is the only one in South Africa completely surrounded by navigable water.

The nature reserve spreads out on either side of the road and there are several excellent hikes that can be enjoyed. The fragmented Cape Peninsula National Park, has a smallish arm which extends from the south and over the summit section of this pass. If you're going for a hike anywhere on the Peninsula, ensure you leave no visible valuables in your vehicle and never walk alone.

The 3 km descent down the valley carved out by the Elserivier to the beach at Simonstown is fairly steep at 1:14, but the corners are easy and safe. Towards the last kilometre, the road enters a built up area where several roads feed in. Watch out for slow-moving traffic here. To the left is 'Glencairn Heights' and to the right are two suburbs: 'Welcome Glen' and 'Da Gama Park' which occupy the land to the south of the river. The pass ends at the T-junction and traffic lights at Main Road at a small beach called Elsebaai. The road is hemmed in at it's southern end by two peaks - Elsepiek [302,9m] to the north and Glencairn Peak [248,1m] to the south. The Glencairn railway station is very close to the end of the pass.

Near Sun Valley on the pass looking back into the northLooking north towards Sun Valley just after the first climb / Photo A.R.LakhaniThings to do in Simonstown: If you're into diving, this is a diver's paradise with a coastline peppered with wrecks at varying depths. Take a stroll along Simonstown's Main Road and enjoy the old colonial architecture and wrought iron work on the shopfronts. Take time to visit the famous statue of 'Just Nuisance' - a Great Dane which was adaopted by sailors at the nearby naval base. Visit the penguin colony at Boulders just to the south of town and if you enjoy olden day toys, a stop at the Simonstown Toy Museum is a delight for old and young alike. There are restaurants, bars and coffee shops to satisfy all tastes where one can soak up the traditional naval vibe. The Cape Point Nature Reserve which is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists is just 20 km from Simonstown.

Try these other scenic suburban passes in and around Cape Town:

01. Kloof Nek Road
02. Tafelberg Road 
03. Kloof Road (Camps Bay)
04. Victoria Road and 12 Apostles
05. Suikerbossie
06. Chapmans Peak Drive
07. Red Hill Road
08. Smitswinkel Road
09. Tyger Valley Road
10. Signal Hill Road
11. Camps Bay Drive
12. Constantia Nek
13. Rhodes Drive
14. Ou Kaapse Weg
15. Blackhill Road (M6) (The page you're on)
16. Boyes Drive (M75)
17. Slangkop Pass (M65)
18. Misty Cliffs Road (M65)


Fact File:

GPS START  S34.128628 E18.394759
GPS SUMMIT S34.145640 E18.402383
GPS END  S34.158466 E18.431823
DISTANCE 5,39 km
SPEED LIMIT 60 - 90 kph
DATE FILMED 16.08.2015
NEAREST TOWN Simonstown (5 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Blackhill Pass  (Note - this is a.kmz file, which can be opened in Google earth and  most GPS models)

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