11-13th DECEMBER

Report by: Christie Exall, Pics by Rose Dix

The weekend at Sweetwaters Cottage near Drakensberg Gardens Hotel was again a most enjoyable one.

One is made welcome from the minute one arrives, this time by Keith-on-crutches, till one leaves, with the traditional “Margaret’s Waffles”.

The delightful Ashtons are so hospitable & kind & makes the weekend special, time & again.

Rose & I arrived on Friday at midday, after unpacking, took a much needed walk to “Three pools” We just had time for a swim & something to eat when it started to rain. So we made a fast retreat back to the cottage amidst thunder, lightning & heavy rain.

Meanwhile Margaret, John, Neville & Marie were doing a reverse hike of the Giants Cup Trail from Swiman Hut & also arrived back later in the afternoon, also drenched.

Graham & Liz Mannal arrived later & their charming daughter, Carol much later, via all sorts of detours……..Timbuktu I think it was!!

The weather on Saturday was very kind to us. John very kindly took us to the start of our hike in his truck, all nine of us!!!! The four “ladies” herded into the back of the truck amongst much joking & laughter.

Margaret our leader, took us to the beautiful Hidden Valley. We set off in delightful hiking weather, mild & slightly overcast. The mountains lush & green with huge patches of Watsonia to be seen everywhere.

Rose, Carol, Graham & myself opted to stay next to the swimming spots in the river while Margaret took Marie, Neville, Liz & John for a further 3km along the river to Sherry Cave. They joined us in swimming on their return.

A sunny Sunday saw us all up & ready to go for a hike to Three Pools with Keith joining us on crutches!!

Again a stunning hike to the pools. The paths lined with the ever present Helicrysums, Lobelia, Wahlenbergia & the odd Eulophia clavicornis & Eulophia foliosa, adding to the pleasure of hiking.

This time Graham, Liz, Keith & myself stayed at the pools in the river for swims while Margaret took the rest of the hikers to see the Bushman Paintings further up the valley.

We were all safely back at the cottage before lunch while another storm was threatening. Now it was time for Margaret’s scrumptious waffles.

Sadly we said our goodbyes to the cottage & our friends……..till a next time.

“Thank You” Keith, Margaret, Graham, Liz, Carol, John, Rose, Marie & Neville for your camaraderie this weekend. It was a most enjoyable weekend for me. Christie Exall.

Following pics courtesy of Rose Dix:

The Walking Wounded
The (k)need to hike surpasses the pain

Eager hikers with our brave leader

Knees up Mother Brown

Slip-Sliding across the Mzimude

Water-Baby-Carol being brave in the Big Pool at Hidden Valley

'Hydro Therapy' takes on a whole new meaning for Margaret

'Keith The Intrepid' leading us to Three Pools

Keith gathering his flock on the way to Three Pools

Grahams Opportunistic Cat Naps

Unexpected Treasures 1
Injured Emperor Bunaeopsis arabella. a rare find

Bonus Beauties - 2
Eulophia Foliosa