Saturday 2 June 2018
Hike organiser: Penny Purchase; Hike leader: Kate Hulley

Report and photos by Penny Purchase

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

It was a cold start at Piggly Wiggly where we assembled to sort out the transport for our hike at the Hulley' s farm. There were 13 Midlands hikers : Jill Plummer, Carolee Thompson, Julia Lloyd, Heather Anderson, Cynthia Elliot, Joanne Joshua, Kevin Knox Davies, Mike Perrin, Peter Comrie, Jan te Riele, Stan Jacobs, Eric Essenwein and myself, Penny Purchase.

We arrived at Hopewell, the Hulleys' farm, just off the Fort Nottingham road, at about 9 a.m. There was a biting wind at the farm but expectations of a brisk hike were high. As ever, we were warmly met by our hosts, farmers, Kate and Iain Hulley, and their cheerful crew of dogs. We set off with Kate leading as Iain had an appointment to fetch his mother from hospital. We walked down an avenue of trees to the dam and what a splendid sight to see the dam 100% full. Last summer it was 13% empty. We enjoyed some bird watching here.

We walked across the dam wall, bracing against the wind coming off the water & up to the gum plantations which provided welcome shelter. We reached a place on the road which winds down to Michaelhouse. Here we had lovely views down the Balgowan valley and the school in the foreground. Back into the trees we found a quiet place in the plantation to enjoy our snack and for some of us tea addicts, a welcome flask of tea.

On the edge of the plantation, we had an obstacle - you either climbed through a barbed wire fence or you could choose the safer option and go over a gate. We walked down a dirt road with grassland and past a herd of curious cows. We had glorious clear views of the berg in the far distance.

It was a hike of about 8 kms with a mixture of trees, grassland and open tracks. Sadly, we saw little wildlife and not many birds. We all warmed up on the trail but were ready for hot tea and coffee and biscuits back at the farmhouse. We sat in a circle under the big tree at the back and some enjoyed their lunch as well. I presented Kate with a MHC calendar as the photo for December was a shot of hikers on a winding road leading back to their farmhouse, on the last hike. I also presented the Hulleys with an envelope of money for the Lions River Conservancy, having collected a R20 donation from each hiker. Another enjoyable morning hike on the farm of the hospitable Hulleys was completed.

Photo 1: Hiking group
Photo 2 : Alongside the dam, 100% full
Photo 3 : Cold winter morning view across Balgowan valley and Michaelhouse
Photo 4 : Through the long grass to the Balgowan valley
Photo 5: Hiking group braving the chilly wind above the Balgowan valley
Photo 6: Broad road on the edge of the forest
Photo 7: Sheltered forest track through the gum plantation
Photo 8: Kate Hulley on the right holding up the wire, with help from Carolee and Mike
Photo 9 : Heather braves the wire

Photo 10 : It' s a squeeze through the gate
Photo 11: Heather' s on track for this hike
Photo 12: Lovely views of the Hulley' s farm and dam on the long road down
Photo 13 : Penny on the trail
Photo 14: A friendly herd of curious cows
Photo 15 : Bare branches let the winter sun through
Photo 16: Tawny winter grasses and green irrigated fields
Photo 17 : The picturesque dam
Photo 18 : The last hill gets you slowly back to the farmhouse