‘Between mountain and sea, Hoy’s Koppie stands free, guarding this school that we dearly love.’ I attended Hermanus Primary School, and that was the first line of the school song in English. I have fond memories growing up in there and have climbed Hoy’s Koppie multiple times. It has a cool cave and a fascinating history, so I decided to find out more.
Hoy’s Koppie is an isolated hill rising approximately 75 metres above sea-level on the otherwise flat plain of Hermanus. It is primarily composed of quartzitic sandstone and formed about 440 million years ago. In the mid-19th century, it was known by the early inhabitants of the town as Klip Kop (stone hill).
Sir William Hoy was a charming character in the history of Hermanus. He was the Scottish-born head of the Cape and SA Railways in the early 1900s. As so many people do, he fell in love with the town and couldn’t stay away from the relaxed lifestyle. He enjoyed climbing the koppie to appreciate the views of Walker Bay.
Wanting to preserve the pristine beauty of the village, in 1912, he vetoed the rail line to Hermanus. In 1916, he was knighted for his military service. Upon his death in 1930, at the age of 62, his wife, Lady Gertrude Hoy advised that Sir Hoy had expressed interest in being buried at the summit of the koppie. Arrangements were made and the first formal path was constructed. Five years later, Lady Hoy was buried alongside her late husband. Klip Kop was renamed Hoy’s Koppie and both graves remain at the top.
Locals and visitors have long enjoyed meandering the paths on the hill. In 2008, Cliff Path Management Group and Overstrand Municipality upgraded the trail system. The main contour path now offers a 360-degree walk right around the koppie on a 1.2-metre wide concrete path. The contour trail provides a total of 1.2 kilometres of wheelchair friendly paths. The original entrance on the north side has an improved parking area and a second entrance has been created on the south, with steps and a boardwalk coming from the car park.
There is also a cave that’s worth checking out. Dr James Drury and a team of scientists excavated it between 1925 and 1935. They found rudimentary tools and artefacts from the Middle Stone Age. They dated the cave at between 50 000 and 250 000 years old.
Even though security guards regularly patrol the koppie and surrounds, it’s always better to go hiking with friends,
Part of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hoys Koppie offers an easy walk, fascinating history, and splendid views. If you ever visit Hermanus, be sure to take a stroll. It’s walking distance from Bientang’s Cave Restaurant and is an excellent way to burn some energy.
When No time restriction
Where Central Hermanus (map)
Contact Emergency number: +27 28 313 8111
Photography courtesy Author