Baynesfield Day Hike (Combined MHC/MBP/Durban Ramblers let by Dave Tighe & Philip Swart)
Saturday 12th October 2013

Report and photos by Rod Hart (flower identification courtesy of Christie Exall)

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

A good sunny day for a hike, predicted temperature of 29 deg was far preferable to the 39 deg experienced the previous day. A little more cloud cover might have been preferable, but heat was not a problem as a lot of the walk was within mottled shade of the forest or plantation.

We met just off the R56 to Richmond and travelled in a rather dusty convoy to the Cambells’ farm Osgodsby where we parked and prepped for the hike.

Dave handled the prehike briefing noting that we were a combined group of 18 hikers from Durban Ramblers, Mountain Backpackers, and Midlands Hiking clubs, and among us were 8 experienced leaders. The hike would take us over the boundaries of three farms and he had obtained permission to traverse these areas. Dave warned us to take sufficient water as there are no watering points along this trail. We were scheduled to set off at 9h00 and the hike up to the old Baynes Cottage should take approximately 3hrs, we were due to be back at the cars by 15h00.

We set off in the cool shade of an avocado orchard but were soon confronted with what Dave has warned us was “Heartbreak Hill” – well when you have an ascent of 400m to gain you can expect some heart thumping hiking, the route at this point follows a farm road so you can see where you are going and the pace was adjusted to accommodate the hill. We regrouped and took a breather at the top.

Pic 1 - We gather on a side road just off the R56 to Richmond to travel in convoy to Malcolm McKenzie's farm of "Osgodsby"
Pic 2 - Travelling in convoy on a dirt road is dusty work!
Pic 3 - The hiking party is briefed
Pic 4 - Leaders David Tighe (on right in blue) & Philip Swart
Pic 5 - and we are off, alongside and avocado orchard
Pic 6 - this is how I know it was an avocado orchard
Pic 7 - and on to "Heartbreak Hill"
Pic 8 & 9 - a rest at the top

We then went through a traditional farm concertina gate, which Phillip terms a “spoelmoer” because of their habit of smacking you in the mouth if you stand behind it when unclasping the latch.

Walking through the indigenous forest was pleasure, the dappled shade along a mostly well formed path was an easy hike, I was able to look around and get photos of some of the interesting aspects of nature that were all around us.

Pic 10 - Philip guides us through the concertina gate or as he calls it a "spoelmoer" gate
Pic 11 - A little more waiting and chatting Pic 12 & 13 - Into a natural forest section
Pic 14 - Fungi, the size of a dinner plate growing on a fallen log
Pic 15 - This was interesting - a tree stem growing within the hollow core of another tree
Pic 16 - more fungi growing in the hollowed trunk of a living tree
Pic 17 & 18 - Vines crisscrossing the trunk of a tree
Pic 19 & 21 - on the edge of the forest waiting to go out onto the grassland
Pic 20 - An interestly twisted vine

Once out of the forest and onto the grassland we passed by some seasonal clusters of Helichrysum vernum (Everlastings) with brilliant crimson flowers, from there we crossed over the wall of the much depleted Lewis dam and into another section of indigenous forest where we stopped in the welcome shade for “elevenses”.

Pic 22 & 23 - Helichrysum vernum
Pic 24 & 25 - Under the fence...
Pic 26 - Tree ferns
Pic 27 - On the wall of the dam
Pic 28 - Hypoxis multiceps
Pic 29 - Hypoxis argentea
Pic 30 - The dam, very low on water
Pic 31 - Heading back into a natural forest
Pic 32 - Our 11:00am "tea" break in the shade on the edge of the forest

Pic 33 & 34 - Knobwood or Lemon thorn tree (I think)
Pic 35 - Spiderweb on the grass
Pic 36 - The closest we came to seeing a snake was this unidentified shed snakeskin
Pic 37 - The dainty Oxalis smithiana
Pic 38 - Eriosema distinctum
Pic 39 - Helichrysum herbaceum

Refreshed by the break we continued through the short section of indigenous forest coming out and making our way along a firebreak to the Langa, “Sun” in Xhosa, trig beacon, 1406m above sea level and overlooking the Baynesfield estate. From this vantage point we were able to take in the panoramic view and from this viewpoint appreciate the extent we had climbed.

Pic 40 - Onward along the firebreak
Pic 41 & 42 - From 1400m the view is stunning
Pic 43 - Another fence to get under
Pic 44-47 - at the "Langa" (Sun) trig beacon, LA-SA 63
Pic 48 - and we are off again...
Pic 49 - I discover a number of what look like 303 shell casings close to the trig beacon...?
Pic 50 - gentle climb along the edge of the plantation

From here it was a short walk down to Joseph Baynes’ well constructed stone cottage, built around 1900 from natural stone as a get-away for a quite weekend. The cottage now stands on the edge of a Blue-gum plantation and has at some stage had its presumably thatch roof replaced with a corrugated sheet roof, it remains a very sturdy structure. At close to 12:00 noon, in the shade of the cottages’ heavy walls we took our lunch then headed back along a circular route through the plantation which rejoined our path up on the firebreak.

Pic 51-56 - The Baynes cottage
Pic 57 - Lunch stop in the shade of the cottage
Pic 58 - The "outhouse"

Pic 59 & 60 - The return route
Pic 61 - Wahlenbergia fasciculata
Pic 62 - past some yellow flowering wattle trees
Pic 63 - ants covering a fence standard
Pic 64-66 - across the grasslands to a brief stop while we ponder where the path enters the forest

A short detour just above “Heartbreak Hill” led us to the grave of Marue Ncgondo who worked as chief cook at Osgodsby until his death in 1968. A simple cement cross marks his grave, and a plastic wreath lies on the grave of his wife who was later buried alongside him.

Pic 67 - A Yellow Billed Kite (maybe) soars above us
Pic 68 - The red roofed farm house from where we had set off this morning
Pic 69-70 - Head count then setting off again
Pic 71 - Grave of "Mareu"
Pic 72 - A plastic wreath on the grave of his wife alongside his own
Pic 73 - through the dappled shade in the plantation

Around 15:00 we were back at the McKenzie farmhouse having had a most enjoyable days’ hike, thank you to Dave and Philip for having done the preparation and for leading this hike.

Pic 74 & 75 - our destination, the farmhouse seen in the distance through a gap in the trees
Pic 76 - timeout for a group photo
Pic 77 - a quiet casacde just off our path
Pic 78 - Bell, I guess to summons the workers, in the farmhouse grounds
Pic 79 - Grindstone
Pic 80 - Hikers tan?