One of the most renowned names in pass building in the Cape has to be Bain. Bains Kloof Pass, near Wellington, was built in the late 1800s by Andrew Geddes Bain and was also the training ground of Andrews son, Thomas Bain. After being petitioned in the 1870s by residents and farmers of Calvinia to build a good road to Clanwilliam, the Cape authorities was commissioned to build the pass. Construction on Pakhuis Pass began in 1874 and was completed within three years. The pass climbs up to 914 metres above sea level, a distance of 20 kilometres from Clanwilliam. The summit offers a breathtaking north-easterly view of the innumerable hills towards the Roggeveld, the Hantam and Calvinia on the horizon and it is now easily reached after the recent re-tarring of the road.
The name Pakhuis is a literal translation of the word warehouse, but no one really knows the true origin of its naming. There are three main suggestions, the first is that the piles of rocks that are a feature of the mountain slopes resemble the piles of goods stacked in a warehouse. Another explanation holds that the stacked rocks resemble the dry-packed stone walls of many Karoo buildings, kliphuis or pakhuis being the common local terms for such buildings. Finally, there is an interpretation that states that pakhuis is a corruption of Khoekhoe, meaning dassies rocky place. Whichever explanation may be correct, all certainly refer to the extraordinary rocks and formations encountered on the pass.
Bain also built a short route from the top of the pass to the settlement at Heuningvlei, which is being used for access to the world-famous Rocklands rock-climbing sites and also for donkey-cart rides to and from Heuningvlei.
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Clanwilliam can be found by travelling north along the N7 for approximately 230 kilometres from Cape Town, towards Namibia.
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