A brisk walk for the brave
The stairs are surrounded by mansions built on multiple levels up Westcliff Ridge, with overhanging trees playing host to spectacular garden birds. In October and November, the jacarandas lining the surrounding streets are a bright and magical sight. The first set of stairs can be found between Crescent Drive and Pallinghurst Road, and the second, shorter set between Pallinghurst Road and Woolston Road. A third set of lesser-known stairs found between the mansions of Woolston Road leading back down onto Westlcliff Drive offer an easier downhill option for those wanting to turn the step experience into a full circuit that will take about 20 minutes at a brisk pace. Walking this area, one will experience sweet birdsong, friendly security guards and dog walkers, and relaxed residents heading out for a stroll.
A training ground for the ambitious
Walkers strapped with heavy backpacks are a common sight on the stairs, as they serve as a popular training ground for hikers preparing for groot treks, from Drakensberg and Cederberg traverses, to Kilimanjaro. Even legendary ultra-marathon runner Bruce Fordyce is known to have trained here often. So don’t be disheartened if the stairs get the better of you – you are among giants if you attempt them!
Steeped in History
The flights of stone steps, consisting of various levels and three separate major sections, were built in 1922 by former miners who constructed the stairs using rock from the surrounding area. There are plenty of heritage properties found here – so look out for the blue plaques marking these out. Some of the finest Herbert Baker-designed homes can also be found here – many of them occupied by diplomats.
Once at the top of the stairs, visitors are rewarded with a vast view over the suburbs below, all the way past Northcliff Hill. For a reward and a magnificent sunset experience, the nearby Four Seasons Westcliff has a number of restaurant options where one can bid farewell to the light while sipping on a cocktail and looking on over the zoo and leafy suburb below.
To visit the Westcliff Stairs, enter this gated area via Crescent Drive and park your car either in Crescent Drive or Wexford Avenue. From here you can either head to the top of the two sets of steps for a good view, or do a few circuits up and down the stairs. Alternatively, head to the top of the steps, turn right into Woolston Road, carry on to the end of the road, and head down the third set of steps to come out onto Westcliff Avenue. From here, walk along the sidewalk and enter back towards the steps through the pedestrian gate on Wexford Avenue. While the area is relatively safe, it is best to go in a group.
Four Seasons Westcliff: www.fourseasons.com / +27 11 481 6000 / Facebook: Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg