Report and photos by Keith Ashton

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

As a dedicated conservationist Barend leads a two hour walk on the first Thursday of every month through his beloved Kilgobbin Forest from his & his wife Helen's lovely home in the Dargle, passing on his expert knowledge of the fauna & flora in such an entertaining & informative way. Barend does this to educate all & sundry to assist in the protection of our indigenous forests & the environment in general.

Having known Barend for over 37 years I generally arrange with him once a year to lead us on a full day hike of about 12-14 km through his beloved forest & onwards to include other areas of the beautiful Dargle which surround his property. It is a very popular hike & today was no exception with 16 participants including Barend.

Today our participants were :- Julia Lloyd, Heather Anderson, Margret Kirsten, Daryll Jacobs, Alistair Nixon, Cathy Nixon, Sean Ebrahim, Carolee Thompson, Astrid Fraser, Brigitta Simpson, Chris Dobson, Peter Comrie, Sue Rawley, Margaret & Keith Ashton.

We left our vehicles in the parking area of Crab Apple Chapel, Barend being instrumental in the building of the chapel. Initially Helen, Barend's wife, met us & welcomed us with open arms which was very kind of her before she left for a busy day After being welcomed by many of Barend's dogs, chickens & Helen's horses etc we assembled on the veranda of Barend & Helen's beautiful home & then made our way into Kilgobbin Forest which is part of the Dargle Conservancy. Gently walking through this enchanting forest is like being in a fairy tale which enhances all our senses & Barend amazes us with his detailed knowledge of the fauna & flora as he imparts his knowledge in such a passionate & enthralling way. (The photographs illustrate this better than mere words).

Eventually we exit the forest & climb into the surrounding grasslands which Barend also knows so well. We then stride out across the grasslands taking in beautiful views all around us as we climb higher & just when we need it we reach a very small stream with crystal clear water to quench our thirst, re-fill our water bottles & have a snack. At the top of our climb we reach the ruin of an old trout fisherman's retreat, but not a successful venture, which appears to be in the middle of nowhere.

From the ruin we made our way to a lovely spot to enjoy our lunch under the shade of a beautiful big oak tree adjacent to a long old dry-stone wall.

After lunch it was gently downhill until we reached Old Kilgobbin & were welcomed by the impressive horses at "Horseplay". We inspected "The Old Cairn of Kilgobbin" & all the plaques celebrating the marriages of many couples at this venue before making our way back to our parked vehicles after a very enjoyable day.

A couple of extracts from the sign as you enter Kilgobbin Forest Walk read "You are now entering a wilderness area, home to a wonderfully diverse community of fauna & flora. Please tread lightly as you go & respect all life-forms who call this home" - "And remember - Take nothing from here except wonderful memories and leave nothing but your footprints. Enjoy the wonders of this place. Barend & Helen"

Thanks to all our participants & special thanks to Barend for sharing his precious time with us on another memorable day.


1. A samango monkey on the roof of Barend's stable says thanks for the apple
2. He is a lovely specimen but guards his apple as he is the troop leader
3. Assembling outside Barend & Helen's lovely cottage
4. Carolee making friends with one of Barend's 7 dogs
5. Barend explaining some of the history of the Dargle
6. On our way through the lovely indigenous forest
7. Brigitta enjoying her first hike for quite a while
8. Keeping a close watch on where to put your feet as a glimpse of sun shines through
9. Barend passes on some of his expert knowledge about the trees in the forest

10. Time to strip-off as the day warms up
11. Time for a rest & to enjoy the view from the boma.
12. Enthralled with the view
13. Barend pointing out some landmarks in the distance
14. Picturesque Dargle scenery

15. Brigitta in deep conversation with Margret K as others climb up the track
16. Lets not forget to stop to admire the views
17. The ridge & Nhlosane Peak stand proud in the distance
18. Time for a break & snack besides a lovely small stream
19. A close-up of the lovely perennial stream
20. Making our way towards the old fisherman's cottage
21. Ruins of the old trout fisherman's cottage
22. An unusual sighting of 4 waterbuck in the distance

23. Our lovely lunch spot under the tree & near the old dry-stone wall
24. Cathy, Daryll & Heather enjoying their rest under the tree
25. The sad sight of a dead cow, having been scavenged & now full of maggots
26. Making our way back to Barend's Crab Apple Chapel Parking