Bushmans Nek and Swiman Hut 30th May to 5th June 2011

Report by Margret Kirsten

Keith and Margaret Ashton, Margaret Robberts and Margret Kirsten

A stark blue sunny sky greeted us when we arrived at Busmans Nek. With that also a hard, icy, cold wind but having been invited by Keith and Margaret in their time share was luxury.

No sooner we had settled in when we had to move as the kitchen sink drain was blocked. Later on we gathered in the hotel lounge for a welcome word, drinks and snacks. The wind was so strong that the sprays from the swimming pool water blew against the lounge windows. How are we going to enjoy hiking in such weather we thought.

The tops of the mountains were covered in snow from the previous week's bad weather. It looked like fairy land. But the following morning we wrapped ourselves warmly and braved the wind which had subsided some what. We took a leisurely walk to the Twin Pools. Leaving Margaret R. behind as she was recovering from an operation the previous week. She was given some duties though....making sure the kettle was boiling on our return, which she did diligently every day. Relaxed the rest of the day. In the evening lovely hot Glühwein was appropriate I thought and enjoyed by all.

Wednesday the weather had improved as there was little or no wind but still bitterly cold. Keith suggested, we must explore Sherry Cave for possibly sleeping in, in July. We left at 08.00h, the first ¾ hour we walked in shade, it was at least minus 3 degrees, even the fast walking did not warm us. Eventually we reached the sunny hills and our frozen noses began to drip and the temp. more comfortable. We passed painters cave then crossed a frozen stream before climbing the steep hill and soon found the cave. Sussing it out we thought there would be enough space for 8 hikers. Satisfied with the findings we had lunch and then returned in lovely sunny weather.

Margaret R. had also done some walking close by and enjoyed herself too. In the evening we played Rummy-cup which was new for the Asthon's but they learned quickly.

Thursday we ventured in the same direction but after an hours walk turned onto an old Jeep track discovering that this must have been the old giant's cup trail path before the present hut was built. Some rocks with white footprints were still lying around. The Jeep track must also have been quite old and had build-up retaining walls in the corners of the track. We came across fascinating rock formations which made a change from the path and scenery we walk on now days. We got to the river eventually which was low enough to cross easily.

Arriving 'home' Margaret R. was sulking much better and insisted that she would walk with us the next day. ( Her daughter had strictly instructed me that she should NOT walk too much.

Friday morning we transferred ourselves to Drakensberg Garden, Swiman hut for a club weekend.


Drakensberg Garden, Swiman hut 3 to 5 June 2011

Leader; Keith Ashton,

Participants, Margaret Ashton, Margaret Robberts, Margret Kirsten, Max Ramseier and Brian & Marie Drury

Drakensberg gardens, although less luxury, still very pleasant. Max had already arrived, in the afternoon we walked to Pillar Cave, allowing Margaret R. to come with, we did not want her sulking again, it's not her nature really.

In the evening Brian and Marie (visitors) also joined us. We had a very pleasant evening in front of a big log fire and lots of chit-chat.

Saturday, Keith took us into Hidden Valley to another cave, he also calls sherry cave!! Margaret R. who had had a 'rest day' had noticed that one of the tyres on my car was low. We did not worry that day and hoped that she was wrong. A young couple from the Czeck Rep. had arrived, they were doing the Giant's Cup Trail, and joint in on the evening in front of a big fire.

Sunday morning we noticed that the tyre was right down the able bodied men saw to it that the wheel was changed, many thanks chaps, especially Max.

The Czeck couple had gone on their last 'leg' of the giants cup trail, Brian and Marie decided to go home and Max aimed for Pillar cave in order to climb Rhino the following day.

That left us four, Keith and three Margarets. It was a beautiful morning and decided to aim for Sleeping Beauty Cave and if that was not enough we carried on to Engagement Cave, two of us had never been there but how disappointing, I would certainly expect to be taken to a better place in order to get engaged!!! It's windy and very open, space for 2 only and uncomfortable, may be that 's why it got it's name??

We returned at about 3.00pm when we sadly had to head for home after a fantastic hiking week. I am sure Margaret R. joins me in thanking Keith and Margaret most sincerely for a super week and the company.

Margret Kirsten.