Saturday 30 May 2015

Report and photos by Penny Purchase

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

It was the most perfect May day, late autumn at its best. The trees still had the last of their autumn dress. The long grass had turned a tawny gold. 9 of us met at Piggly Wiggly and travelled in convoy to the Hulleys’ farm, Hopewell, situated along the Fort Nottingham road. Here the farmers, Kate and Ian Hulley welcomed us, outside their farmstead. This was the first hike by Midlands Hiking Club members on their farm and what a wonderful hike it proved to be.

Then followed 3 hours of a most amiable, slow-paced hike across beautiful farmland in sunny weather. Our guides, Kate and Ian, were chatty, informative and friendly. We circumnavigated their large dam, crossing the dam wall and climbing the low hills above. We were blessed to see blesbok and their young grazing in an irrigated green field. Our hosts pointed out the reedbuck springing on the hills and porcupine burrows on the slopes, a fish eagle, spurwing and Egyptian geese and water lilies on the dam. The best sighting was of 4 wattled cranes in a vlei area, having an argy bargy about territorial rights! Amongst all this beauty was also the ugliness of cable theft: Kate showed us pumps and cable lines that had to be protected. Plenty of scratchy brambles and prickly blackjacks reminded us we were in the bush. The views were stunning across the cobalt blue dam surrounded by waving golden grass and patches of green pastures on the hills.

We had a heroine that sunny autumn day – Christie Exall, still recovering from the muscle weakening virus called Guillain Barre. With 2 sticks to aid her wobbly legs and great determination and courage, she persevered, using the sliding- on- your- bum method down one steep slope. Her conversation with herself alternated between comely words of self stimulation and some robust words of self condemnation! She was a real trooper! Her bloody legs wore the battle scars of the brambles.The furthest distance she had walked previously was 3 kms. Ian fetched his truck to help her with the last kilometre. Christie had certainly extended herself and proved to be an inspiration to us healthier hikers. Another hiker to mention is Yvonne, friend of Jill’s, who was on her first hike and managed admirably.

Back at the homestead, we enjoyed our lunch, sprawled on the soft green grass under shady trees. Hulley hospitality with tea and coffee, cheese and biscuits were enjoyed by all. We were entertained by a little black faced orphan lamb that gambolled up to us, bleating for its bottle! The Hulleys’ dogs, the animal sounds and the cooing of the doves all contributed to the farm atmosphere. So ended a most enjoyable, Grade 1 hike of about 6kms, for Joan and Andrew Templeton, Annie Waterhouse, Carolee Thompson, Felicity Kromhout, Christie Exall, Jill, Yvonne and myself. Many thanks to our charming hosts, Kate and Ian, who are already planning the route of the next hike for us, maybe in spring. I think most of us will be there!

Photo 1 - Hiking group
Photo 2 - Farmer Ian Hulley and hiker Andrew Templeton getting acquainted
Photo 3 - Full Midlands Hiking group ( I was in this one as Ian took the pic)
Photo 4 - So much to discuss at the dam
Photo 5 - 1 dead man, 4 chicks and a dog enjoying the rest
Photo 6 - Cobalt blue dam and tawny grass was the backdrop at our snack stop
Photo 7 - Christie with our lovely hosts, Ian and Kate Hulley
Photo 8 - 4 wattled cranes competing for the territory

Photo 9 - Jill and first time hiker, Yvonne
Photo 10 - Lunch on the lawn
Photo 11 - Little orphan lamb came bleating for its bottle
Photo 12 - Felicity being mother to the little lamb
Photo 13 - Our wonderful hosts, farmers Ian and Kate Hulley