“Cool Bannerman’s”
MHC/MBP
Giant’s Castle Reserve
Central Drakensberg

30th March – 1st April 2012

Report & photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders




Bannerman’s Hut at Giant’s Castle Reserve, is the only available mountain hut in the Central and Northern Drakensberg at high altitude . It is situated on a small hill at the foot of Bannerman’s Pass, quite remote, but fairly easily available to the fit hiker. Don’t let the term “hut” mislead you, the hut is a strong shelter in a bleak mountain, it has steel and wooden bunk beds, that is all. All food , mattresses, sleeping and cooking utensils and food must be carried up in your back pack. No fires are allowed in the hut , cooking is done on your gas stove. Toileting is out in the fresh air and grasslands – well away from the hut

The Cardinal Rules for this hut are, make sure you book it before you hike there – you may be turned home by someone who has booked it , and KEEP IT CLEAN - there is no cleaning service up here.

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Our party of 6 left our homes with a bit of trepidation , the weather forecast was not encouraging, heavy rains on Saturday , cold at night , cold Sunday. Drakensberg philosophy is - Never cancel a trip before you get there !

We started our hike in our rain gear – some, well chose to hope that the weather would not be too bad. We crossed a very wet bridge on the Bushman’s River, and looked up to a mist and rain covered feature on the skyline called the THUMB



As we climbed we noticed that the winter Fire burning tracer lines had already been sprayed, and the grass was already brown and dead. Also the weather got colder, and not so nice. Later we saw our first signs of snow on the high berg - the reason for the very cold breeze that we were walking in



All of a sudden, while we were having a lunch break, the mist lifted, blue sky erupted all around, and the berg was beautiful it was going to be a good day after all .



This did not last long, then all went back to “not so nice”, mist , rain and cold , and as we neared the hut quite a lot of snow became visible in Bannerman’s Pass area, and around ‘The Judge”



We made the best of a long cold afternoon in the “warm hut” better than being in a tent – any day . An early supper was prepared, and not before too long we were settled for the night. Last words were, we will wake up when the sun comes up. The thing about this hut is, that one can get incredible sunrises over the valley, and on the escarpment behind the hut. The only problem is, is that it only lasts minutes –



Next morning the clouds were heavy , and looked like there would be no sunrise , then all of a sudden , the clouds were gone, the sun crept over the horizon , and it was a mad scramble to pull boots on and to run out into the wet grass to catch that special “moment of time” , and in a few minutes it was gone , back tomorrow – maybe !!!





After breakfast, we packed , cleaned the hut , and started off in the warm sunshine of a brand new day. We hiked past the old burnt out remains of a long forgotten Field Rangers mountain outpost. We turned right, and with a few bumps, and trips due to the uneven ground, and long grass in places, we headed down into the valley to see another part of this wonderfull world.



These lost and hidden valleys never fail to impress one with beautiful water and tree lined waterways, and sandstone overhangs.



Then it was onward at a faster pace to get back to the cars. At one stage it felt as if we might get a storm – thank goodness it rolled away. Long grass with a large seed head blocked the view at one time.



Then we hit the bridge , with that horrible long climb up to the car park. No matter we were strong , we were fit , we were flying – watch out hill , you are about to be trampled flat as we roar up to the cars.



Another great week end in the berg. However, the warning signs are out , leave the summer hiking kit at home, and pack in the winter kit – the cold has arrived.

Thanks to all for a great week end. It is great to hike with very fit people – “it makes all the difference.”

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There is a famous old mountain saying , that should NOT be forgotten – forget it at YOU peril “ANY FOOL CAN BE COLD IN THE BERG”

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