This headline comes from a blog on Cape Info. And few would disagree. Certainly no-one who knows Hermanus and its famous Cliff Path would. The blog goes on to say:

“The Hermanus Cliff Path is very special, covering the whole route along Hermanus’ coastline. It’s an easy walk and much of it is surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. For a break or to look out at the scenery, there are 120 benches along the route and signposts to tell you what to look out for.

“Originally constructed by the Hermanus Botanical Society, the Hermanus Cliff Path has been reconstructed and is maintained by the volunteer Cliff Path Management Group (CPMG). The CPMG has managed the resurfacing of the entire path through private donations and contributions from the Overstrand Municipality.”

From the time of its inception in 2002, the driver behind the success of CPMG was David Beattie. He literally and figuratively put the Cliff Path on the map. He drove the hugely successful initial campaign to construct a wheel-friendly path – a project for which he raised over R2 million in private funding. He conceptualised and designed the cliff path brochure, which has seen two print runs of 20 000 each, all of which he distributed to tourism establishments and other interested parties. Together with daughter Jenny, David developed the Biodiversity Walk on the coastal path between Gearing’s Point and Hermanuspietersfontein.

During 2018 the CPMG saw several sad changes. The greatest loss was that of David Beattie, whose sudden and untimely death left a huge leadership void. Founder committee member, Harvey Tyson also passed away and Werner Zybrands moved out of Hermanus. 

At the beginning of 2019 three new members joined the remaining CPMG stalwarts. Without David’s fundraising skills or a contribution from Ward 3, however, no capital-intensive projects could be initiated in 2019. Yet several projects were tackled, thanks to accumulated CPMG funds and some public donations.

CPMG accomplishments during 2019

Routine maintenance was continued, such as fixing vandalised structures, alien clearing and reporting transgressions. 

The cliff path brochure was redesigned and streamlined. A further 10 000 copies were printed, thanks to donations from a few private individuals. Brochures are available free of charge at the Hermanus Tourism Office in Mitchell Street, or contact CPMG at hermanuscliffpath@gmail.com.

The large CPMG sign boards on the Cliff Path have faded, been damaged or “relocated”. New boards have been made and will be erected by Michael Henn and his team from the municipality along the cliff path during this week. If you see the team at work, do stop and cheer them on.

What are CPMG’s projects for 2020?

There are unfortunately no path-specific funds in the 2019/2020 Ward 3 discretionary budget, but we are working with the municipality towards a number of objectives for which we need to raise funds.

Save a paw 

The surface of the path constructed more than 10 years ago is starting to deteriorate. The exposed aggregate is now over-exposed and tough on the feet of both humans and our canine friends. CPMG plans to resurface selected portions as and when funds allow. We challenge every lover of the cliff path, especially dog lovers, to donate R1 for every kilometre they have walked in the past or will walk on the path during 2020. We are standing by to resurface all the worn-out sections to be more paw-friendly.

Path to paradise

There is a lovely swimming spot down on the flat wave-cut rocks at Rietfontein in Westcliff. But the path leading down to the rocks has been largely washed away by storm water and is now almost impassable. It is CPMG’s desire to reinstate this path so that it can once again be a top swimming and lounging spot. 

Plans have been drawn up for the path in consultation with engineers and a landscape designer. The cost is estimated at around R120 000. Anyone who sponsors the construction will be given naming rights to the new path. Now wouldn’t that be much more fitting than a bench to remember a loved one who found joy in walking the cliff path or plunging into the sea off the rocks?

What a view

Ward 4 discretionary funds will be used to upgrade and beautify the look-out point at the start of the cliff walk at the New Harbour. 

Commemorate a loved one

The path linking Main Road in Eastcliff back to the cliff path at Micky is presently an embarrassment. The path surface is a muddy mess in the rainy season and the surrounding vegetation has been insensitively hacked in the name of “security”. 

This path is not part of Fernkloof Nature Reserve and thus not subject to the CPMG guidelines for path construction in the reserve. A project is planned, in collaboration with the municipality, to resurface the path and beautify the surroundings with cliff path plants.

This path provides the opportunity to include commemorative stepping stones or plaques into the path design. CPM has had numerous requests for a bench on the cliff path to remember a passed family member, but no more benches will be erected. A plaque set into the new path is a unique opportunity. For a donation of a mere R5 000 a loved one’s joy in walking the cliff path can be celebrated. 

Beattie’s Beat

Last, but not least, CPMG plans to commemorate the huge contribution David Beattie made to the enjoyment of all who visit Hermanus or live here. It’s not a coincidence that the Cliff Path is invariably and prominently featured in the promotional material of accommodation establishments in Hermanus. A commemorative granite plaque on a stone plinth is planned for David’s favourite spot along Beattie’s Beat.

Challenging accommodation establishments

Isn’t it time for establishments that use the cliff path as part of their advertising to contribute to the upkeep of the path? It doesn’t happen without funds and the dedication of a small team of volunteers.

Let me end with another quote from Cape Info:

“You won’t find better spots for watching the giants of the deep. During the months July to December, when the Southern Right whales arrive from their Antarctic feeding grounds to calve and mate along South Africa’s southern coast, the Cliff Path affords some of the best land-based whale watching in the world.”

I couldn’t agree more. Happy walking!


The CPMG team comprises Anina Lee (Chair), Frank Woodvine, Tania Pretorius, Peter Coxall, Jim Sweet, Jan Cilliers, Kari Brice, Lauren Rainbird and Tarron Dry. 

The CPMG does not seek membership subscriptions, nor does it expect payment for its voluntary services, but still depends on donations from the community for projects. 

Contributions to CPMG can be made to Investec Bank current account, branch number 580105, electronic account number 50002115857. For more information please email hermanuscliffpath@gmail.com.

About the Author

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Whale Coast Conservation passionately lives by its slogan “Caring for your environment”.

Its small staff and volunteers are dedicated to

  • raising community and visitor awareness of the unique, biodiverse natural resources of the Cape Whale Coast region and
  • to projects that convert awareness into practical actions that lead towards living sustainably.

WCC ensures expert representation in public participation processes that contribute to environmental and developmental policies and legislation.  We monitor regional development; and ensure compliance with legislation and guidelines.

WCC increases general public awareness of sustainability through environmental education, citizen-science research projects, community projects and campaigns.

WCC communicates with its audience through exhibitions, signage, technology demonstrations, workshops, talks, film shows, newsletters and articles.

WCC places emphasis on educating future generations through its Youth Environment Programme (YEP).  YEP is offered to 24 schools in its target area with a total of over 10,000 learners.

WCC facilitates schools’ participation in special events such as Earth Day, Walking for Water, Arbor Day and Coastal Clean-ups.

WCC facilitates educator development programmes to improve the capacity of educators to offer informed environmental content in their lessons across all learning streams.

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