Cole's Pass was considered in it's day to be quite a serious road and contains three minor passes within its 21,6 km length, but with the excellent modern engineering methods having smoothed out the gradients and improved the banking and width, today the name of Cole's Pass has fallen into disuse as offialdom no longer consider it worthy of being called a pass. In essence, the road connects the Houw Hoek Pass in the east with Sir Lowry's Pass in the west and forms part of the N2 highway. The road traverses lovely mountainous scenery, dotted with apple orchards, forests, dams and rivers, but this is a very busy highway, so drivers will need to keep their eyes on the road.
Like Sir Lowry's Pass, this pass was also named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole. He served as brigadier-general in Sicily and commanded the 1st Brigade at the Battle of Maida on the 4 July 1806. In 1808 he was promoted to major-general, to lieutenant-general in 1813 and full general in 1830. He was colonel of the 27th Foot, commanded the 4th Division in the Peninsular War under Wellington, and was wounded at the Battle of Albuera in which he played a decisive part. He was also wounded, much more seriously, at Salamanca. For having served with distinction in the battles of Maida, Albuhera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthez and Toulouse, he received the Army Gold Cross with four clasps.
He was appointed 2nd Governor of Mauritius from 1823 to 1828. He left in 1828 to take up the post of Governor of the Cape Colony which position he filled until 1833. Cole was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath on 2 January 1815.
Houw Hoek Pass was built shortly after Sir Lowry's Pass was completed in 1833. The distance between the two passes is approximately 25km and covers some beautiful mountainous terrain. This middle section was known as Coles Pass - so named after the very same Sir Lowry Cole. The name Houw Hoek translates into 'Hold Corner' and is derived from the need to hold back, or slow down the ox-wagons whilst negotiating the steep descent down the pass.
Viljoen's Pass was named after Dr Antonie Viljoen who founded the area's famous apple industry in 1902. It is a well designed modern pass with a good accident track record, not withstanding the extreme hairpin bend on the northern side of the pass. The pass was originally built to a different line in 1860.
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Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
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