Report by Brian Henwood, photos complements of various hikers in the group

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The middle South Coast of Kwazulu-Natal is known by caravaners and campers alike as a popular destination for beach holidays where many of the coastal resorts are located close to the beaches. What is not of common knowledge is that these resorts also cater for the active visitors who are looking for more than just the beach.

Our weekend programme comprising four activities involved a 12km hike along a well-marked walking trail maintained by the Rocky Bay Resort, a 5km Parkrun event adjacent to the Umdoni Golf Course in Pennington, a 5,5 km trail in the Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve and a 5km beach walk to a neighbouring resort.

The numerous trails at the Rocky Bay Resort cater for both the mountain bikers, trail runners and walkers. We had the option of a 6, 8, 10 or 12 km walking trail. Our group of 16 chose the 12km trail which passed through fields of sugar cane and small lots of macadamia nut trees then entered indigenous coastal forest lands where the shaded paths meandered amongst the indigenous thicket and tall well-established trees. The trail could be described as gentle as the accumulative climb was only 250m and the entrance fee of R30 was well worth it as the trail was in good condition and well-marked.

Photo 10 - 11: Macadamia plantation

Parkrun events occur in many countries around the world having been first initiated in April 2011 in Bushy Park, London. There are now more than six million registered parkrunners internationally. The concept is that the event can occur where there are sufficient enthusiastic volunteers to manage the event on a regular basis according to set rules. There is no charge for participants and the 5km event shall cater for young and old, walkers and runners, and shall occur at 8:00 every Saturday morning. Twelve of our group joined the field of 317 parkrunners at the 148th uMdoni Parkrun and one of our group was second home in his age category.

Photo 12: Good turnout at Parkrun
Photo 12: Viewpoint
Photo 13: Finish
Photo 14: Finish the other two were still running!

The 2 200 ha Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve is situated about 25km inland from Park Rynie and is known for its coastal scarp forest and coastal grasslands which support many mammal species such as zebra, blue wildebeest, bushbuck, blesbok, impala, oribi, duiker, jackal, hyrax and mongoose. Apart from the 12 km of gravel roads there are also three trails. Our group of 18 walked the Hlathikulu and Mthakathi Trails, a total distance of 5,5 km, half of which was through coastal forest which turned out to be a paradise for bird watchers.

Photo 23: Lunch spot
Photo 25: Hornbill
Photo 26-28: Evenig braai

After two days of sunny but windy conditions we awoke on Sunday morning to idyllic weather conditions and so with talk of coffee and scones or mini-breakfast at a nearby venue it was not difficult to gather the group together for a walk along the beach towards Pennington.

Photo 29: Sunrise
Photo 35: Didn't find it!
Photo 41: Happy Wanderers
Photo 43: Nearly full campsite
Photo 44: Packing up
Photo 45: One of our sites
Photo 46: Going home toll

All in all another great weekend of tenting, exercising, braaing, fun and laughter!