MHC - Michaelhouse
Michael House Conservancy
KwaZulu Midlands
23 August 2015

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders

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

Penny our leader for the day met 18 day hikers from MHC (Midlands Hiking Club) at a central venue not far from days hiking destination. Once transport was re-sorted so that as few as possible vehicles were used, we set off for the well known Michaelhouse Private School in the Midlands. The weather at this stage was rather misty and cool, but would later warm up considerably.

At the gate we met with Andrew, the Estate manger, who unlocked the gate and guided us to a parking area from where we start, and end the walk. A short walk took us to the newly built Lapa area- which was built to help facilitate the students into outdoor life and adventure. A short rest and look around at the building and the views below , and we set off in earnest.

Pic 2 - 6

From the Lapa, the paths drops steeply through a lovely natural forest area down to a clear sparkling cool stream at the bottom of the valley. As the path is new, extra care was taken negotiating some of the steeper sharper stony bits of path. Once out of the forest, a good grassy vehicle path was followed for the rest of the walk. The path followed down to a dam, then wounds it way up a longish hill, where a rest break followed. The slower walkers gradually made their way up the hill. From the top hazy views were offered of the lowlands below.

Pics 7 - 16
Pics 12 and 15 - Michaelhouse buildings in the haze

Moving on, a large group of Blesbok stormed away from us down the valley, and came to rest on the slopes of an adjacent hill. By now some hunger pangs were becoming evident, so a sunny, grassy spot ( where we stood), was the lunch spot. Carrying on after a rest, an electric cattle fence barred our way, however a place was found where we could lift the fence, and go under. The cattle thought we were bringing food, and jostled around us to look for the cattle lick that they were expecting. Luckily, no one was licked, but by now the hot sun was starting to lick into the energy of some of the walkers. As we crossed under the second electric fence, the animals were forced to stay in their allotted area of grazing.

Pic - 17 - Lunch on the spot
Pic - 18 - 21 - Cattle encounter

Greatfully, back at the cars, backpacks were off-loaded into the vehicles, easy shoes were exchanged for hiking boots, and another good day walk was ended.

This area has just been opened to the public by Michaelhouse, ( we were the 1st to hike there) so thanks to Andrew from Michaelhouse, and Penny our leader for organizing it to happen.

Just a point to bear in mind if you are going to hike out in the open grasslands or berg at this time of year, the grass is tinder dry, the winds unpredictable, take every care not to start a grass fire, dire consequences must be expected.