27 June 2021
Report and photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders
[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]
On Sunday a happy excited group of fit "mature" hikers set of from the Crab Apple Chapel on Barend Booysen's Crag Apple Farm, to spend a beautiful warm winters day in the fresh air walking the lovely natural forest area of the valley bottoms and eventually reaching the highest spot in the area after a "viewsome walk" over hill and dale with brown veld hills and luscious irrigated pasture. Unfortunately the "long view" was a bit hazy, but that is to be expected at this time of year.
The walk started with a cool amble through the beautiful natural bush, heading for the higher ground. Times ago a lot of hard work was done to build the large stepping stones up and out of the valley. Once through the forest we headed up to the old boma for a rest and view break.
The walk was done at an easy pace, allowing time to take in the views from our vast area of dry veld grass lands. On the way, the remains of an old cattle kraal, made from huge stone boulders was clearly seen on the hillside. There are also many kilometers of strong well build rock boundary walks, very reminiscent of the many walls in Britain. These walls were built by Italian Prisoners of war during the Second World War. Old arable lands, long turned to veld grass had just been mowed and baled making walking easy and "chatty". Our next goal was to get to the windmill for a tea break.
From our tea break our next destination was the "Grand Old Oak Tree" for the lunch break. Coming around the corner of a large, long hill we looked down onto a "Super Green Oasis of green pasture" .A huge land of irrigated ryegrass/red turnips dotted by shiny brown cattle grazing happily and contented. The grazing area was managed with the use of an electric fence. A lovely warm day, incredible food, plenty of fresh clear hill water, what more could one want??? A happy place to be. Up around the next corner, high on the hill we passed an old Fisherman's Cottage. One wonders why it was built so far away from a water source. The house was built some 40 years ago, when the then owners of the farm were planning to build a dam in the valley and stock it with fish. Sadly the structure of the soil would not hold water, and that was that. Time has done what time does best. Stay healthy - or!. The views from up here were great, especially for the old window down onto the pasture and cattle.
More walking through valleys and around the patches of old bushes, the old Oak Tree (without the yellow ribbons), came into view on the hill top. This tree was planted about 150 years ago as a junction point of 3 farm boundaries. The POW rock walls still help form the boundaries of the farms. Lunch was had here, then we headed for our last destination - The Dam - for those who would like to tempt the cold winds and take a dip.
On reaching the dam, there seem to be NO takers for a swim, or a quick paddle around the dam. We were welcomed by the resident "Pot Bellied Pig" who was very laid back, enjoyed a scratch, and being photo graphed, then ambled off, so did we. However a last glance back across the wall showed something of interest in the bush. On investigating a very old Jo Jo Tank came into view. No doubt once upon a time a vital water source for an old homestead.
Our usually casual hikers, now knew that the cars were no far away, and like any good horse, the last bit home is always at the trot. By the time the cameramen had taken a few pics of the beautiful black horses in the paddock, our front runners were no longer in sight, just the last few hikers enjoying the last of the day.
A great day, spend in a wonderful environment. Special Thanks to Barend of Crag Apple Cottages for allowing us to regain friendships, energy, vitality and enjoying the fresh open air of the area. (for more info, google Crab Apple Cottages)
With the latest Lockdown time table, the KZN Wildlife Staff may not be able to do as much burning of firebreaks as should have been. When we do get back to the mountains again, be very wary of controlled fires or run away fires. You don't want to end as being the braai ! TAKE CARE - STAY SAFE