8 – 10 June 2012
Report and photos courtesy of Keith Ashton
This venue is well run by Sue & Rory Brighton & has accommodation options consisting of 5 en-suite rooms, two dorms & a large campsite with electric points - there is a fully equipped kitchen & good ablutions with plenty of hot water. Sue also provides breakfasts; light lunches & afternoon teas etc - recent additions include a licensed bar with large screen satellite TV - great for sports events.
We had 16 participants for this weekend – John Fourie & Christie Exall (who won the prize for 2 free nights in an en-suite room, kindly donated to the club by Sue & Rory), Margie Forbes, Stella Wells & Harry Holderness, Melody Verbaan, Veronica Stander, Kevin Knox-Davies, Tanya Hall & Brian Merryweather, Francois Bietrix, Almut & Bernd Schultheiss & son Max & Margaret & Keith Ashton (Leader).
Day 1 - Fri 8 June – Margaret & I arrived after lunch & as most of the others were only arriving later we had a couple of hours walk by ourselves along the delightful local river with plenty of birdlife & we also spotted a Reedbuck (Bushbuck & Duiker also frequent the area) – we finished at the small timber bridge across the river & retraced our steps back to join the other arrivals – thanks to Rory for developing this new very local lovely short trail. We all then socialised in the bar & communal lounge area for drinks & snacks followed by our supper of Beef Stroganoff, rolls & salad or the veg option prepared by Sue – a great evening enjoyed by all.
2. Margaret walking towards the river - ridge towards Nhlosane in background
3. Birds in flight with lovely farmland in background
4. Margaret on timber bridge across river
5. Same bridge with Margaret but emphasising unusual cloud formation
6. Spot the reedbuck
Day 2 - Sat - This was to be our longest hike of the weekend (about 15 km) on John & Anne Black’s Farm which requires a short drive of about 10 km. John & Anne welcomed us as we parked our vehicles in their secure area. Then we were off on a cool morning to climb up the steep slope though an indigenous forest before emerging into lovely sunshine at the top when it was time strip off our outer clothing, during which time John managed to lose a clip from his day-pack so he had to make a plan for repairs as no one could find it in the long grass & he dazzled everyone with his bright yellow shirt (see photo). We still had more climbing before descending over rocky terrain, then simultaneously ducking under a fence & crossing a stream to carry on with more climbing until we reached the high plateau with magnificent views towards Nhlosane & beyond where we could clearly see Cathkin Peak, Monks Cowl & Champagne Castle as well as the southern Berg peaks Thaba Ngangwe & Devil’s Knuckles etc. From here was gentler climbing until we reached our lunch spot with fantastic unusual end-views over Midmar Dam & surrounds. After lunch we made our longish scenic hike back(snowing part of the time) via a beacon & mast to eventually descend trackless down to the farm. After arrival back at Boston T & a wash it was time to socialize in the bar area (near Rory’s warm fire) with drinks & snacks & to cheer-on South Africa’s win over England at rugby on the big TV screen. Then it was tucking into our supper of Curry, rice, salads & rolls or the veg option prepared by Sue, plus more drinks before heading off (now nearly freezing outside) to bed – thanks for the hot-water bottles Sue – a very nice & welcome touch.
8. Lovely end view over Midmar Dam at lunch spot
9. Kevin & John take in the view
10. A closer image of the dam
11. Margaret & Christie also admiring the view
12. Lunch & carbo-loading - Veronica-Margie-Harry & Stella
13. Another view of Midmar Dam
14. Re-grouping on our return hike
15. Rocky terrain as we approach the beacon
16. The beacon & mast - we can see forever- but threatening clouds
17. Harry at half mast - Clouds & Nhlosane in distance
18. Looking down towards John Black's farm - the ridge & Nhlosane beyond
19. A closer view of the farm - note the very old buildings at left
20. A crowned crane near the Black's dam
21. The old buildings close to the farmhouse
22. How did they lift these massive stones a 100 years ago
Day 3 - Sun – Now a very cold start direct from our base onto Paddy & Sue Carr’s farm, with some of our group deciding to relax more & do the leisurely river walk – the rest of us continued through Paddy’s land over varied terrain & the obstacle course over or under fences, crossing streams & brambles in places. I had indicated a shorter hike today but we had to keep a fast pace in the icy cold wind & continued with much climbing until we reached our high freezing point where we had a quick lunch or snacks, keeping as low as we could to avoid the bitter wind. Then it was a brisk hike back to base (having covered 15 km) to say our good-byes after an excellent weekend. Thanks to all our participants for your company & making it a fun & enjoyable outing. Special thanks to Sue & Rory for again going the extra mile to make us so welcome & comfortable.
24. Cold with full gear on before we return to base