On Our Estate
On Our Estate
Lodge residents have exclusive use of the estate. There are numerous maintained trails – and many more to be forged – over the 1300ha estate. The estate is safe to explore on foot or bike, though the resident wildlife should please be given the respect they deserve. They are after all full-time residents.
Heysbrook is rich in its diverse fauna, flora, natural and human history. Numerous stone kraals (the Bakoni, who later became the Swazi’s when they were persecuted by dominant tribes) of some 800-year-old settlements can be found. There is a lot of Boer War history in our valley and several block houses used as vantage/signalling points from this war.
The kids are welcome to bring their bicycle, mom and dad too.
Clay Pigeon Shooting (by appointment, prior to arrival, only)
Typically, six different routines are undertaken for a total of 26 shots per person. This excellent team building activity is usually undertaken in a very colonial atmosphere with cold drinks and snacks under umbrellas, ensuring that this activity is enjoyed as much by onlookers as by the participants. This activity must be booked with Gerald, ahead of your stay, as it is provided by an outside service provider.
Paschner Gold Mine Walk
One of Heysbrook’s specialities is the historical walk to the old gold mine. This walk can be accomplished by anyone reasonably fit - or someone prepared to be stiff the day after. The oldest hiker we know of was well into her seventies.
An undulating walk along the banks of the Paschner stream, so named because Mr Paschner supervised the mining operation at the turn-of-the-century, under the canopy of many indigenous riverine trees and shrubs takes approximately forty five minutes, unless one is fortunate enough to be delayed by a sighting of the narina trogan or the more common purple crested or knysna lories.
The last 100 metres to the mine is a safe steep climb up the steps cut into the hillside. The effort is worthwhile as you experience a century old mine hewn from the side of the mountain by hand. There are several hundred metres of tunnels to explore with the gold bearing vein apparent in many places. Aside from some wet patches and a few bats the venture is safe and well worth the effort.
Returning to the lodge can be accomplished by returning along the stream or taking a short cut down the grassland path. If this is chosen a round trip of two to two and a half hours is usual.
On the eastern slope of the Heysbrook valley is a wonderful and stimulating hike up the steepest slope following a perennial stream through a forest of large trees. The trees on this walk are materially larger than those of the mine walk on account of being warmer and receiving more sunshine.
Whilst not being much more than a kilometre and a half from the lodge to the waterfall at which the kiepersol resides, the round trip will probably take two hours. The climb is fairly steep and there are several slippery spots. Much of the walk is along the bubbling brook and is almost exclusively in the shade.
The tree in question grows above a ten-metre little waterfall and is some six metres in girth. This would not shame a baobab tree! Whilst being a little unsure of our world record claim, we keenly await any qualified competition. Well worth the effort for those prepared to stretch their hamstrings. If one chooses, you can drive from the lodge in a 4 x 4 to the base of the climb.
Bakoni Ruins Meander
A reasonably flat walk (and that is unusual by Heysbrook standards) and of particular interest to those interested in South African history, is the meander through the old Bakoni ruins on the western high ground above the lodge.
One leaves the lodge and follows the road past Gerald and Santi’s house onto the plateau. Leaving the road there is a path cut that interlinks some fifteen or twenty stone kraals. These are the remains (many of them unbroken) of the tribe who occupied this valley hundreds of years ago. These were Iron Age residents and there are some iron smelters higher up the mountain.
We have found many artefacts in these ruins such as millstones, pottery fragments and gravesites. If you do come across any, please refrain from moving them. Please leave them for the next fortunate visitors to discover and experience.
One is immediately impressed by the sophistication of the settlements. Running water in stone-lined canals, contoured roads and demarcated cropping lands are still visible.
The walk brings one back to the road before the gate and thereafter a visit to the British soldiers graves and other residents of the turn-of-the-century cemetery is well worth the extra effort. The well-documented ghost Lt John Lawlor is based in an elaborate granite grave amongst the iron crosses of his comrades. The graveyard visit is moving and Willie can add several other factual stories relating to the cemetery if you’re not superstitious…
This relatively easy walk will take between two and three hours depending upon one’s historical bias. The views over the lodge and up the valley are worth the walk.
The climb to the highest point of the estate on the eastern boundary (1090) is some 800m higher than the lodge. It is often misty and cold up here whereas the lodge itself may be enjoying much higher temperatures. This round trip of some four hours is for the fit only. There is no water on this trip and therefore important to take sufficient water bottles.
The climb to the eastern high point (the koppie behind the lodge) is surprisingly attainable if one drives the first section to the sundowner spot in a 4X4. The trail is so named after George Heys who used this cutting to have staff (on a horse) collect mail from Waterval Onder returning to his home at Tudor, above the waterfall. Three hours should accommodate the round trip. On the top, you’ll be standing on the edge of some 100m sheer cliffs overlooking a waterfall on the Paschner stream. Klipspringer are often seen on this outing.
The best walk is to the waterfall at the end of the property where the Heys brook falls some 800m off the highveld. A round trip of ten to twelve hours is expected, though well worth every bit of it. There are many pools and small waterfalls, many of which you’ll need to traverse. Be prepared to get wet. It is not recommended that this walk be undertaken alone as the gorge becomes very isolated. You’ll need to be properly fit to enjoy this full day outing. You will know when you’re halfway - recognising that you still have to turn around and return downstream back to the lodge – when you reach the base of the waterfall which spills into a large, Olympic swimming pool sized square faced pool.
Details of several of the trails and hikes is included in the booklet which can be found in the bedrooms.