Report and photos by Keith Ashton
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
It was a beautiful sunny day as our participants arrived at our house in Amber Valley at 08h00 & after all had signed the Hike Register we were off into the grassland areas away from all the houses.We were soon spotting several of our many zebra, blesbok, impala, warthog, duiker & reedbuck. We continued along the fence-line between Amber Valley & Amber Lee, eventually reaching the bottom corner of Amber Valley, then it was a steep climb upwards over rough & uneven ground following the perimeter, still between Amber Valley & Amber Lee until we reached higher ground for a brief rest to view the beautiful scenery all around us & into the distance beyond Umgeni Valley. From here we continued climbing further but more gently along the perimeter between Amber Valley & Kwa Wula spotting more animals in both estates. Eventually we reached the highest corner point in Amber Valley which is adjacent to Amber Ridge & at this point we had a rest near the bench which Margaret & I donated for the benefit of Amber Valley residents (those of course who are able to walk up to this highest point).
It was then a descent down a grassy track & eventually along the grassed wall of the lovely Falcon Dam which is stocked with trout, courtesy of the Amber Valley Fishing Club. After a detour around some other grass tracks we walked along the banks of Falcon Dam & it was pleasing to see many Egyptian geese on the water surface with others checking out one of the round platforms anchored in the dam to provide nesting spots. From here we climbed up to the top fence-line between Amber Valley & Amber Ridge. Shortly after we entered Amber Ridge to circumnavigate their lovely estate which included more climbing & descending. Part of this route was along the fence-line between Amber Ridge & Kwa Wula where we were able to view a healthy herd of blue wildebeest.
After exiting Amber Ridge we re-entered Amber Valley & took a very scenic route along a secluded valley (Margaret & I call this the "Serval Track" as a serval took up residence here for about 3-months & we were able to see it & photograph it during our regular very early morning walks). Part way along this route we had short rest & had snacks next to a little stream & waterfall. We were soon off again behind the two lovely indoor heated swimming pools & made our way to the fence-line along Karkloof Road which we followed until we reached the Amber Valley main gate.From here we took the perimeter route alongside the servitude road & Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve & eventually reached the pedestrian gate between Amber Valley & the road to Amber Lee.(Security Card entrance needed here). Then it was up the grass alongside the road until we reached the main entrance into Amber Lee (Again having to use my Security Card to gain entry). Once inside Amber Lee we did a complete circumnavigation of the property, seeing a couple of Nyala on our route which included some quite steep & rocky ascents & descents before we stopped for lunch in a beautiful spot under the shade of trees on the banks of a lovely dam. Then it was onwards to complete our circumnavigation of Amber Lee, stopping en-route to look at the lovely outdoor pool & club house. We eventually re-entered Amber Valley & made our way back along the grass to our house where we all enjoyed ice cold water first followed by tea & coffee & Margaret's home made scones with jam & date cake. Our route distance was 14.25 km & we climbed a total of 427 meters (These figures being accurately recorded on my Garmin GPS). The attached pictures illustrate parts of our route. Thanks to all those who participated & sorry to those members who were too late to secure places.
1. Ready to roll from our house - starting point in Amber Valley
2. Starting a steep climb within Amber Valley
3. Noel doing well on the climb, Libby next in line
4. Lovely setting for houses in Amber Lee
5. One of the many zebra in Amber Valley
6. Admiring the views from Amber Ridge over Amber Lee & Umgeni Valley
7. Egyptian Geese on Falcon Dam within Amber Valley
8. Egyptian Geese testing the platform installed as a nesting base
9. Julia & Margret K taking a rest after another steep climb but now in Amber Lee
10. Taking it carefully down a steep slope in Amber Lee
11. Still going down - Margret K foreground with Peter next in line
12. Making our way to our lunch spot under the trees in Amber Lee
13. Peaceful setting near our lunch spot next to one of the dams in Amber Lee
14. Peter, after lunch, training for the Annapurna Circuit
15. On our way again after lunch in Amber Lee
16. Still in Amber Lee
17. Daryll & daughter Amy with Dean nearly back to our house in Amber Valley
18. Nice way to end the hike with ice cold water, tea, coffee & jam scones & date cake on our veranda