Tag Archives: thomas bain

Heading over Tradouw Pass towards Suurbraak (2019-07-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 JAN 2020

I genuinely enjoy travelling over the magnificent Tradouw Pass as it snakes its way over the Langeberg mountains, linking up the three towns of Swellendam, Suurbraak, and Barrydale as one moves from the Overberg towards the edge of the Klein Karoo.

Having been built by the legendary road and mountain pass architect Thomas Bain, the 17 kilometer long Tradouw Pass was officially opened in 1873, taking its name from a loose Khoi translation meaning roughly “women’s path”.

The stunningly beautiful pass cuts through green mountains and runs alongside gorgeous canyons – though its original form did make it rather prone to flood damage. Over time a number of renovations would help stabilize the pass, with the biggest of these coming in 1974 when the pass was basically completely rebuilt, with hairpins removed, the road widened, and its surface completely tarred. As part of this process, an additional 4,000 aloes and 2,500 indigenous trees and shrubs were planted, adding another layer of landscaping to this already scenic mountain pass.

Today there are plenty of viewing points to stop at and admire the landscape, which is exactly what I then did as we travelled over the pass on our way to Barrydale for last year’s June School Holidays trip to Warmwaterberg Spa.

(That said, only Emily was eager enough to actually abandon the car and head up to the Drupkelder cave with me!)

Things to See in South Africa: Old English Fort and the Cogmanskloof Tunnel to Montagu Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 JUL 2015

The Cogmanskloof Pass connects the towns of Ashton and Montagu. Its entire 6.5 km stretch through a majestic landscape of towering rock formations. Renamed after Cape Colony secretary, John Montagu, the town’s original name of Cogmanskloof is where this pass took its name from.

IMG_20150708_135549 Cogmanskloof (R62) Tunnel to Montagu

The original route through the mountain included two fairly dangerous river crossings (Kingna River), and so following a few disasters, famed road and pass builder Thomas Bain was commissioned to build the pass through Cogmans Kloof in 1877.

Using a combination of dynamite and gunpowder (gunpowder because dynamite was apparently relatively new and they quickly ran out of supply), Bain and his team ‘dug’ (fine, blasted) through the Kalkoenkrans and opened the route in 1879.

IMG_20150708_135919 Cogmanskloof (R62) Tunnel to Montagu

The unlined tunnel is 16 metres long, and has a five metre high arched roof.

IMG_20150708_135452 Cogmanskloof (R62) Tunnel to Montagu

The tunnel is the oldest solid rock (unsupported by concrete) road tunnel in South Africa.

(Thomas Bain’s father Andrew Bain, actually built the very first tunnel along the western ascent of Bainskloof Pass near Wellington in 1835, but that collapsed during construction so it doesn’t count)

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At the top of the tunnel, blink and you will miss it, is the remains of a well camouflaged English fort (declared a monument in 1999), accessible via a short little hike starting to the right of the tunnel entrance, heading towards Ashton side.

old english fort cogmanskloof tunnel montagu 1

Taken from the Internet: “1899 heralded the Second Anglo Boer War and saw the construction of the English Fort above Cogmans Kloof. This was built by stonemason William Robertson at a site selected by Lieutenant Colonel Sidney, Commandant of the Royal Field Artillery. The fort was garrisoned by a company of the Gordon Highlanders who were survivors of the Magersfontein battle, commanded by a Lieutenant Forbes.

They were camped on the original road construction site below Kalkoenkrans (Turkey Crag) the site which is now the parking area below the fort on the Montagu side.

The fort measures 9,3 x 3,8 m on the outside. It has a simple entrance opening at the west end and 21 ‘waisted’ loopholes formed in the masonry without steel plates. The loopholes are 700-800 mm above the concrete floor and the 400 mm thick stone walls reach a height of about two metres inside the building.

Inside the fort, near the south-east corner, is a roughly circular mortared stone platform (400 mm high), together with a drainage channel and hole at the base of the adjacent east wall, which seems to indicate the presence of a water tank and hence a roof.”

old english fort cogmanskloof tunnel montagu 2

Related Link: Old English Fort | Cogmanskloof Pass