Report courtesy of Libby Deysel; Photos by John Fourie

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

“Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”, but mad Natalians go hiking in the pouring rain!! Suitably kitted out with ponchos, anoraks and umbrellas, ten Midlands hikers namely Stabhile, Heather, Anita, Julie, Debbie, Keith, Margaret, Linda, Eric and Libby met John, our leader at Piggly Wiggly at 8.15 am. We managed to squeeze into two cars to drive the short distance to the start of the hike on a farm in the Dargle.

I had imagined some serious bundu bashing through long, wet grass. However, we were pleasantly surprised after having walked along a farm road for awhile to be led onto a well maintained grassy path which John said had been specially prepared for us. He did, however, later own up to the fact that the farmer keeps the path mown for his wife to ride her horse. John showed us a stone wall running for some distance along the boundary which Linda correctly identified as having been built by the Italian Prisoners of War.

The rain was persistent and quite heavy at times, but being the eternal optimists we hoped that by 11 am the sun might have appeared. There was mist on the hill tops, but luckily we not enveloped by it and were able to see the views. We walked through parts of the farm where many different species of proteas were growing. There were some beautiful Watsonias, Redhot Pokers and a very delicate, pretty blue flower identified by Margaret as an Aristea. We sheltered at snack time in a lapa overlooking Midmar.

The second part of the hike was through a beautiful indigenous forest. There was a natural spring which was the source of water for the farm. We did hear the call of monkeys in the forest, but they kept out of sight. There was also a sighting of a buck as we left the forest, unidentified as I only had a glimpse of the white under its tail as it ran off into the bush. Having left the forest, we were back on the muddy road where our boots were getting heavier and heavier with the collection of mud. We passed a large herd of very inquisitive Brahman cattle, who actually all gathered at the fence to watch us as we prepared for our departure in the cars.

Many thanks to John for the pleasant company and interesting hike. Apologies to Stabhile if I have spelt her name incorrectly!

The photos were taken by John Foourie.

Libby Deysel