Sunday 14th September 2014
Report and photos courtesy of Alistair Nixon
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULL SIZE]
All 9 of us on this hike knew it was going to be hot! And it was.
The walk is graded as 2+ as there are no difficult ascents and the route is predominantly on roads. It is a 5-6 hour walk of approximately 15kms.
Our starting point Pleasant Places certainly lived up to its name. It is a cool green oasis set in the very dry, brown hills of the Midlands. Our hosts had already arranged Google map print-outs of our route for Peter, the walk’s leader.
The walk began with beautiful views and vistas of very tranquil and pastoral fields and rolling hills. It is evident by the farm names and signage that this is not only cattle but horse territory as well. Our first breather was at the entrance to Silver Streams a horse polo farm. Fortunately there was a brief respite from the sun as route now entered a forest and into an avenue of oaks. We saw buck at this point. From the trees it is a gentle climb to the very haunting, “Ruins” . This is a dilapidated house which in its time must have been a beautiful weekend retreat. There was something reminiscent of ‘Wuthering Heights’ about this ruin. It was quite haunting but a very good photographic opportunity. This was our morning tea break.
Pic 2: Silver streams
Pic 3: Forest trail
Pic 4: Oaks
Pic 5: Wuthering heights
Pic 6: Tea break
From here we began the descent into the Dargle valley. It was still very hot. Some cattle were cooling off in a small dam and their lethargy was evident by their reluctance to move from the cool of the water when we passed by. After the dry grasslands of the hill tops we were now walking into the inviting green fields bordered by an extensive area of indigenous forest well preserved and protected. A number of people on this walk had had the pleasure of doing a walk through the forest on a previous outing on the farm owned by Barend Booysen. Evidently the rare samango monkeys had also been seen there on that occasion.
Pic 7: Hot cow
Pic 8: Indigenous forest
Our second oasis was ‘Horse Play’ an interesting people-horse communication centre. (probably be corrected on that description!) It’s architecture was early Natal in style with corrugated iron roofs and wide verandahs. The main house is a wedding venue with a picture perfect chapel draped with rambling roses. At this point there were panoramic views out towards Midmar, Howick and Amblehurst. From here one descends further into the valley and past the chicken farm. You will not need a map to find it - all you need is a nose! The aroma was an excellent incentive to increase the pace and begin the gentle ascent en route to our finishing point. Here we met a lady who was returning home to Lidgetton carrying 8 dozen eggs on her head. From what we could ascertain from our limited isiZulu she had left that morning at 8am (it was now 1pm) to make her purchase and still had an hour to go before getting home. She had no water left and was very appreciative of the water and food donations made from our group.
Pic 9: Horse Play
Pic 10: View towards midmar
Pic 11: Lady with 8 dozen eggs
Over the hill, through the plantations and a view down towards the Lidgetton valley told us we were nearing home. From the plantations we joined up with the road and back to Pleasant Places where jugs of cold water awaited us.
Pic 12: Lidgetton Valley
Pic 13: Where?
Pic 14: View
Pic 15: "No Parking" - " No comment..."
Pic 16: Cold water
My advice. If it comes up again join the walk. Try and make it during the summer months when the midlands will be at its greenest.