1st December 2013

Report courtesy of Penny Purchase, photos & corresponding comment by Rod Hart

This is the second hike we’ve enjoyed at Tillietudlem, the first being a winter hike in August this year. Tillietudlem is a trout and game estate, a working Nguni breeding farm and a conservation area, set amongst rolling green hills and blue dams. It reminded the early Scottish settlers, the Ogram family, of their native Scotland. There is an Old Colonial House and a self catering lodge.

There were 16 hikers that met at Piggly Wiggly and our hike leader, Annie Waterhouse, organised us into 4X4 vehicles to travel the 30+ kms to the game farm, the last 5 kms being a fairly rugged road. We drove to the self catering lodge and enjoyed a hot drink, while waiting for our young guide, Matt Haden, to come. Weather was misty and fresh and cool, perfect for walking but not so great for seeing the wider vistas. The summer flowers were out which enhanced our hike and the photographers had a field day. The first watsonias,a stunning soft orange, were beginning to appear. We had several river crossings, one being a challenge. The ground was soft and Cathy disappeared once into a deep hole but no damage was done.

Our snack stop was at an attractive pool with large rocks …. so attractive that brave, hardy Matt decided to strip …. well, half-strip …. and take a dip. We watched from the rocks in admiration. No-one joined him! We followed the river , crossed a long wooden slat bridge and arrived back at the Old Colonial Lodge, as it is called, after an easy hike. Here we enjoyed coffee and tea in the comfort of the lounge before a roaring fire. We said goodbye to half the party. 9 of us stayed for a delicious lunch prepared by Bronwen, Matt’s fiancée, tomato and brie tart, followed by a hot lemon pudding. This was served in the cosy dining room. It was good value at R60 a head. And a fitting end to a summer hike on a cool, misty day. Matt, the farm manager and conservation man at the estate, was an enthusiastic guide. He led us on a different route from the hike in August and this time it was sadly, too far to go and see the Nguni herd . We look forward to more hikes on this beautiful conservation estate and farm and appreciated the warm hospitality which greet us there every time.

Pic 1: We arrive - the entrance to Tillietudlem
Pic 2: The babbling brook at Hlega Manzi Lodge
Pic 3: Lounging at Hlega Manzi Lodge
Pic 4: Coffee laid out for us
Pic 5: Matt, Tillietudlum's in-house Ranger gives us the pre-hike intro

Pic 6: And we are off...
Pic 7: Looking upstream from just below the Hlega Manzi Lodge
Pic 8: We pause for a Group photo
Pic 9: Matt in the lead
Pic 10: Not certain of the classification of this beautiful purple flower but it may be Moraea elliotii
Pic 11: Cyperus obtusiflorus (Geelbiesie)grass
Pic 12: Looking back at the Lodge
Pic 13: This caught my eye because at first it looked like an out-of-place cluster of blackjacks, on investigation it appears likely to be Cyperus semitrifidus or rupestris (grass)
Pic 14: Greeny-yellow flower of the "Pinapple Lily" Eucomis Autumnalis
Pic 15: Matt gives some tracking advise...
Pic 16: on how to smell the difference in Wildebeest vs Zebra dung
Pic 17: And there against the skyline is a Widlebeest bull
Pic 18: We hike past the skull of a Wildebeest cow
Pic 19: Close up of the skull

Pic 20: Now we drop down into the valley
Pic 21: Across some rocks
Pic 22: The bush becomes heavier here
Pic 23: ladybird bug
Pic 24: Following the river
Pic 25: Chlorophytum or Anthericum cooperi
Pic 26: Perfect spot for a tea break
Pic 27: Matt helps with the photographing of a Gladiolus
Pic 28: Matt contemplating a swim
Pic 29: ...and he is in!
Pic 30: while the rest of us snack and relax

Pic 31: Getting ready to depart
Pic 32: Matt poses against the water slide
Pic 33: Dierama robustum "Angel's fishing rod"
Pic 34: Across the stream
Pic 35: Jill discovers an attractive yellow/orange flower - later shown to be "Littonia modesta"
Pic 36: Boardwalk skirting the Eland dam
Pic 37: Eland Dam
Pic 38: Back at the car park - Annie briefing the troops
Pic 39: Happy to be getting a ride out!

Pic 40 & 41: Identifying some of the wildflowers
Pic 42: The magnificent old oak tree at the entrance to Colonial House
Pic 43: Making our way into Colonial House
Pic 44: If you enlarge the photo you will find one of the bricks marked £1000 - the cost of building the original house
Pic 45: View from the front porch
Pic 46: Lounging around again - note the roaring fire!
Pic 47: A view from a side window
Pic 48: Delicious lunch
Pic 49: Scrumptious dessert
Pic 50: on our way off to home