MHC – Fort Nottingham Common
KZN Midlands
5 February 2017

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders.

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



A large group of day hikers booked their spots for this new hike, so much so that I had to put some “would be” hikers to a waiting list. The weather on the day was not good, the long range forecast was not good, and it was right. Anyway we all met at the appointed time and place , and then discussed the weather, and decided if it was ugly, or looked to be ugly, we would abort the hike and call an early end to the day, but would give it a go.

Then a convoy of vehicles set of to Fort Nottingham , to meet at Roy and Val Tabernor’s restaurant Els Amics at Fort Nottingham.

With everyone kitted out, we set off for the forest where a steepish climb up the hill using an old loggers route through the forest towards the summit started. Early going was difficult as the brambles had grown considerably in the spring. However, steady progress was made, and soon we were out of the forest and finding our way up a valley covered in tall veld grass, brambles in patches and only the odd antelope track to follow.. Considering the overcast weather, the views along the way were great, and the cool air kept the “heavy breathing” down. The long stretched out line of hikers all enjoying the walk, and chatting away, but not really taking into consideration where they were going to or through, was a happy sight.



After crossing a second fence we eased up towards the crest where a tea stop was planned. On the flatter more open, and heavily grazed veld, patches of bright yellow veld flowers made a very colourful statement.



We reached the “tea hill” , and sat down for a break, and from here we could see across a long wide valley the clump of trees that I was hoping to get to, to have lunch. However a change in the wind sort of made me change my mind and quickly set us off on further up the hill and along the fence line, and from where we could see into the next valley, and down onto the Spring Grove dam. While looking at the dam, we could see the Kamberg Hill as well as the high berg from Kamberg across towards Lotheni, and the sight was not good.

Huge black rainclouds were gathered over the berg , and to our left one could see sheets of rain falling and heading in our direction. So after a quick deliberation, it was decided to abandon the rest of the walk , and head down back to Els Amics. Rain coats were put on, back packs cover , by those who had covers, and we set off. Unfortunately in rainy situations, cameras are put away, so no pictures of us “walking in the rain”, although I must confess that I did not hear anyone “singing the rain” At a point on the way down, the rain stopped, so it was raincoats off, but a bit later they were on again.



We arrived back at the cars early, but wet and cold. Dry clothes had been brought, so hasty changes into warm clothes was done, and it was home for lunch. As we left Fort Nottingham, the rain really came down, and the area we were to have hiked in was covered in a very heavy blanket of mist. It would not have been much fun to be out there at that time. Cold, rainy, misty, but hopefully, Not “where are we ?”

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With the weather being so changeable recently, it is well advised to watch your favourite weather channel for the area you are going to hike in, very carefully. Also to always pack a spare set of dry clothes for travelling home in.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED


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