7th Feb 2016.

LEADER : Penny Purchase. Report and photos by Penny Purchase

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

Group photo and Group with Kate and her dogs in front

There were 20 eager hikers who assembled at Piggly Wiggly at the early misty 7.15 a.m. start. We travelled through thick mist to the Fort Nottingham road and on to the Hulley’s farm, Hopewell. Once there, it turned out to be sunny, clear weather, to the relief of the leader.

On arrival we were greeted cheerfully by Kate Hulley, who farms the animals on this beef, sheep and crop farm. We had 7 new hikers, who were welcomed and the basic rules were explained. See the photo of them and their names below. We set off with Kate and her 3 energetic dogs leading the way. We walked past mealie fields and green pastures on wide farm tracks and narrow paths. A steep slope took us to the top of a hill where we had a magnificent 360 degree, clear view of the rich farmland below, dairy, pastures and crops. A good snack stop to take in the scenery which a clear view of Inhlasane. From here we were lucky enough to sight a couple of crowned cranes in the wetland below.

Pic 3 - Kate leads to way down the farm track
Pic 4 - Starting the trudge up the hill with Whiskey, the corgi, leading us
Pic 5 - Nearly at the top
Pic 6 - Beautiful 360 degree all round views over lush farmland
Pic 7 - 3 keen new hiking club members : Bibi, Gerry behind, and Ansie
Pic 8 - Mother and daughter, Rose and Storm, also keen new hikers
Pic 9 - Katie enjoying the hike

Down the other side, a little tougher going with no path to follow at some stages, we climbed through a barbed wire fence and hiked through natural grassland with summer wild flowers. We were treated to a sighting of a group of blue cranes flying high overhead and hearing their wild call. Past the possible old ox wagon route and a stream with a cluster of tree ferns and we were back at the farmhouse all too soon.

Pic 10 - Steep downhill and no path
Pic 11 - View of Hulley’s farm and dam
Pic 12 - Go lower, Keith!
Pic 13 - Inhlasane beyond the rocks
Pic 14 - Summer wild flowers abounded

We sat under a large shady tree and were entertained by a mother sheep and her 2 black and white lambs frolicking about. Kate kindly provided us with welcome cups of tea and chocolate cake, while husband, Iain, joined us to chat about the farming life.

Pic 15 - Our 7 intrepid new hikers: Darryl, Stan, Ansie, Gerry, Bibi, Rose and Storm
Pic 16 - Mother with her lambs
Pic 17 - Relaxing in the shade and enjoying Kate’s tea and chocolate cake

It was an easy grade 1 hike of 5-6 kms with one hill to test us. The weather was perfect, sunny with a breeze. It was a good mix of seasoned and new hikers. The new ones - we hope you’ll join us again after this gentle introduction! Thank you to the Hulleys for their hospitality. We were soon heading for home as the Hulleys had a lunch commitment. I can’t think of a more pleasant way of spending a Sunday morning!