Hulleys' Farm Hike in the Nottingham Rd area
30 April 2017
Leader: Penny Purchase

Report and photos by Penny Purchase

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

It was a lovely autumn day. The yellow and russet leaves of the Midlands trees glowed in the sun as we made our way from Piggly Wiggly to Hopewell, the Hulleys' farm on the Fort Nottingham Rd. We were warmly greeted by our hosts, the farmers, Iain and Kate Hulley and their friendly dogs.

There were 13 of us: Debbie Stobie, Barend van der Merwe, Frances Chisholm, Anita Cohen, Darryl and Amy Jacobs, Dean Burn, Gill Plummer, Tony Mareno, Carolee Thompson, Eric Essenwein and myself, Penny Purchase. Sylvia Varty joined us from Mooi River.

Iain planned a different and longer route this time, incorporating his neighbour' s farm, Chris Worral. We hiked across open pastures and grasslands. There were a few mishaps the bossy organiser (me) set out in her crocs, forgetting to don her hiking boots!, then she fell on a narrow cattle path, Iain nearly slid into the dam & . and climbing through a barbed wire fence is always a challenge to both guys and girls, to keep their private parts intact. The highlight of the hike was undoubtedly the siting of a wattled crane family. They were prancing around the wetland close to the small dam where we stopped for our snacks. Mother, father and nearly full grown chick. An elegant family gathering in their handsome black and white plumage. We eyed them and they eyed us.They danced and paraded before us. Iain and Kate entertained us with their stories of cranes and their habits and lifestyle. We passed a herd of cattle, happy in their abundant pasture. Then a small dip in the land where the bright orange leonotis flourished, standing proud. Soon we were on the homeward gravel road back to the farmhouse, where the trees were beginning to turn into their autumn dress.

It was 1.30 pm and we were weary from the heat, the 12 km hike and 4 and a half hours on the hoof in quite exposed farmland and grassland. Before everyone dispersed, I presented the Hulleys with an envelope of money and a card( depicting a crane) to thank them for leading us. Kate planned to donate the money to Sunfield Home in Howick. Most of the hikers then left. A small group stayed and enjoyed the Hulleys' tea and hospitality in the welcome shade of the big tree at the back of the house.

It was an enjoyable hike in perfect autumn weather over grassland and farmland, with the youngest being Amy & . and the oldest? & . who knows and who cares?! It was a friendly group and gave the new hikers some experience. And who will ever forget that splendid family of elegant wattled cranes who danced and pranced for us on the edge of the dam.

1. Hiking group in front of farmhouse
2. Enjoying our snacks at the dam
3. Viewing the cranes across the dam
4. Lovely siting of the resident wattled crane family
5. Darryl and Penny in the leonotis
6. Leonotis in season

7. More than half way and still looking fresh
8. Careful Tony, mind your precious parts!
9. The long and winding road home
10. Jill Plummer on the approach to the farmhouse

11. Cranes (pic by Barend van der Merwe)