Michell’s Pass, commonly misspelt as Mitchell’s Pass, is situated on the R46 at the junction with the R43 between the town of Wolseley and the town of Ceres in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
From its south-west entrance the pass ascends 190m to its summit at 473m before descending a short distance into Ceres. The pass is well worth travelling for its beautiful scenery and incredible rock formations, which some describe as “moonscape” and it is a favoured spot with birders. The drive is particularly popular during the winter months as there is almost assurance of snow.
The old Toll House situated just below the railway crossing, was the pay point for travellers to the diamond fields, in the early days. It is now a well-maintained national monument that houses a small restaurant offering traditional foods and treats. Further along the pass there is a large viewsite, where there is a lovely view of the waterfall at the head of the Dwarsrivier, which can be breathtakingly dramatic in the rainy season.
This annual scenic 21km marathon makes use of part of the Pass with a slight ascent in the first 3km and a steep climb at 18km, before a downhill meander to the finish line.The 10km route is run through orchards and the 5km Fun Run takes participants through the village of Ceres.
The pass was planned by Charles Collier Michell, Surveyor-General of the Cape Colony, after whom is was also named. It was constructed in 1848 by Andrew Geddes Bain. It was only after the completion of the pass that the town of Ceres came into being. A railway line through the pass was constructed during 1910-12. In 1938, just before World War 2, the road was widened and concreted. In 1969, after an earthquake shook the area and caused serious rockfalls, the pass was closed and given a revamp, utilising sections of the original Bain construction and drywall supports, which have become a national monument.
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