Day Trails from Manor House:
- Manzimyama Stream Pools – 1 – 2 hours;
- The Jungle Gym - 1 hour;
- The Pioneer House and Old School and Wasbank river – 2 hours
Manzimyama Stream Pools – 1 – 2 hours:
Walk down the road towards the entrance gate and turn left through the gate passing the graveyard. Walk down to the grave yard and past it where you will notice two half drums on either side of the fence.
You will cross the fence and see the markers from here. Follow the white footprints along the stream, on this stretch, if you are quiet, you should see either (impala or duiker or steenbok) continue walking first on the upper side of the stream and the trail will take a right turn down so that you walk quite close to the stream and continue until you get to the old railway line where you will take a sharp right and cross the Manzimyama Bridge. About 20 meters further the trail turns into the bush it turns left (the marker is on a tree branch) and continues in deep shade under the Wag ‘n bietjie and Acacia trees. The trail will cross a small stream flowing in from your right - take a sharp left immediately, continuing straight back to the Manzimyama stream. The trail will now be on the upper side of the stream. There are several swimming spots here where you can cool down. You can spend the time here either for lunch of just to enjoy the clean and ice cold mountain water. You can then return your steps to cross over the bridge. BUT instead of walking down along the stream as you came, you can walk on the old railway track – clearly seen with high side which will take you back to the gate at the top near the old (dead) blue gum trees and water tanks. You can either cut sharp left once through the gate down through the penny leaved blue gum trees which will bring you to the security fence and behind Goose cottage and Margaret’s quarters back OR you can walk past the water tanks and follow the track down back to the house.
THE JUNGLE GYM – one hour:
Leave the property through the gate to the right of the Sandstone Barn/Waenhuis. Carry straight up through the next gate with the lunging ring to your left. Walk up to the old stone kraal (a) and walk behind it where you will pass through the gate. You will now be on the old railway track. You can follow the railway track, through the camp (the young heifers graze here) and gate and to the next camp. Before you get to the next gate and camp (the young ox herd grazes here) there is an old quarry dam on your right where you should see water fowls. (Apparently there is bass to fish, but I have not tried to fish myself yet). You will clearly see the “Jungle Gym” - a big concrete structure built to help sort the coal from the proposed Merthyn coalmine. The owners’ three boys named it their “special jungle gym” as it afforded many hours of playing and clambering for all boys (young and old) to climb around on. Walking up behind the structure you will see the entrance of the Merthyn mine, built in 1940. The mine was closed due to the presence of Methane gas. The mine entrance is usually flooded. Please be cautious as there have been cave-ins behind the entrance and this area is fenced off. You can continue up along the fence and cross it at the top where the boundary fence cuts the camp – OR walk back on the old railway track on the way you came. Before you get back to the gate at the old Kraal (a) veer right down through the bush before the stream and pass another old stone kraal which will take to the Duck Dam very close to the road. This spot is a favourite of the kudu which you may encounter. From the dam, where waterfowl are always seen, you will clearly orientate yourself to go through the gate and reach the gate at the old Sandstone barn having passed the black corrugated shed on your left.
THE PIONEER HOUSE AND OLD SCHOOL AND WASBANK RIVER – 2 hours
Leave the house through the gate to the right of the Sandstone Barn/Waenhuis and walk behind the barn then turn right with the black corrugate barn on your right. You should pick up a footprint marker here. Go through the gate and follow the road (to the right is the Duck Dam) over the big green gate (A) at the road. Cross the main tar road and over the next gate (B), (Both gates are locked so please clamber over). Turn right (there is a marker on the post). Walk for about 50 meters and you will then see another marker to turn left. The markers are on the trees. The trail now enters typical Natal bushveld with thick acacia cover. Due to the tall Tambuki grass the markers may be obscure (all on trees and hopefully above the tambuki grass eye line!) and hikers need to concentrate on this stretch. After passing the Bamboo bush, the trail winds its way near the Wasbank River, where one can turn off to relax and swim (not recommended for drinking water). Many kingfishers and weavers nest in the reeds on the banks of the river. The trails are clearly marked. The trail crosses a fence at the lower end of the Manzimyama stream and will reach the dip kraal. You will find a spot in the game fence where you can crawl through to get to the entrance of Manor house. Cross the road, through the entrance gate and walk the path up to Manor House. Alternatively, walk alongside the tar road back to the gates (B and A), and follow the same path back as you started.
- Izemfene (place of baboons) 12 – 15 km;
- Option A: For the short cut back to Manor, follow the White markers going left;
- Option B: For the energetic hikers – Izemfene trail via “Uil se Gat” and the Waterpools.
Please regard these as “wilderness trails”, although there are markers we have not sprayed the trails i.e. killed the grass on the tracks, due to the excessive rains we have had!
Izemfene: Place of Baboons - 12 or 15 km:
Walk down the road towards the entrance gate and turn left through the gate passing the graveyard. Walk down to the graveyard and past the two half drums on either side of the fence. You will cross the fence and see the markers from here. Follow the white footprints along the stream, continue walking first on the upper side of the stream and the trail will take a right turn down so that you walk quite close to the stream and continue until you get to the old railway line. You will take a sharp right and cross the Manzimyama Bridge. About 20 meters further the trail turns into the bush and meanders up the mountain staying mostly next to the stream. The trail will cross a small stream flowing in from your right - take a sharp left immediately, continuing straight back to the Manzimyama stream. The trail will now be on the upper side of the stream. There are several swimming spots here where you can cool down. Continue along the stream and it veers to the right to reach the fence where you can cross over or through the concertina gate and cross the stream. Follow the white markers up the mountain (it might be difficult to see the markers due to the length of the grass) – they are on iron pole or on trees or on aloes but they are present! If you do not see the markers veer right toward the border fence as you need to go through the gate further up the mountain.
Having gone through the gate you are now on Uithoek Farm, farm of my neighbour and second cousin, Carl Simpson. The trail follows a cattle track and then starts climbing. There are footprints painted on boulders, on iron poles and hanging from the trees. You should reach the next border fence and gate. Go through and follow the markers or walk up the mountain where you should see quite a big sign at the Four way crossing, here you have two options:
Option A: For the short cut back to Manor, Follow the white markers going on left:
For the shorter option, turn left to pick up the WHITE markers towards the Wasbank Matobos (13) and further on to the fountain where water for the house is piped from.
The trail goes up a small valley with the game fence on the right. At the top, the fence between Izemfene and Wasbank farms is crossed and the trail continues in a southerly direction, through a garden of aloes to the top of and along the ridge. Be very cautious as boulders are slippery in wet weather. There is a steep climb down the mountain before the trail crosses the fence. Keep your eyes open towards the short plateau areas as the mountain reedbuck is very fond of this area. It crosses the old Sleigh route, which used to carry provisions to the top farm and winds its way between the Bracken. The trail enters the Raptors Run - images of Jurassic park come to mind when the grass is very tall! A little while later one reaches the spot where the water is taken from the fountain to the house. A good landmark here is a red bricked (now empty) reservoir. From this spot you can easily see the house and make you way on an unmarked trail down to Manor House.
Option B: For the energetic hikers:
Izemfene trail via “Uil se Gat” and the Waterpools:
Should you still feel energetic at the 4-way crossing keep to WHITE MARKERS on the trail to the MbyeMbye Fort site look out and Uil se gat (No. 11). At this spot you will cross over the plateau following the yellow markers to join up with the WHITE markers at no. 12 where you can swim and enjoy lunch.
From the 4-way crossing keep right by staying on the WHITE footprints. The trail continues to pass ‘Atlas tree’ and then goes down the mountain to a well-used path. HERE there are two options:
- Take a left, follow the path and walk above the stream in a westerly direction (there is no other way) to where the pass opens up. About half a kilometer you will reach a big tree on the bend and just beyond is the swimming spot 12. You can then turn back again through Short Tom passes to make your way back to Manor House.
- For a longer walk, find the path that will descend the mountain to cross the stream. A short while downstream is a nice swimming place. The trail follows quite a steep climb up ‘Jon’s ascent’ and is not easy due to the presence of huge boulders and the path may be difficult to follow due to the tall grass during late summer. Keep the forest on your right and as you get to the top, there is a stretch of veldt between the two indigenous forests. Once you get to above the forest line, the trail turn 90 degrees right, follow the path before the trail enters the first of the indigenous forest called James’ jungles. Once you have passed through both the indigenous forests, you are on the plateau. These indigenous forests are all on the southern side of the mountain and there are several tree and plant species not seen before. Follow the white markers on the plateau passing several kiepersol trees. It dips down to a spot where several surprises await the hiker. Follow the markers into the bush for a detour where one reaches a big hole which disappears into nowhere. It is called “Uil se gat” (11) as a Barn owl resides here. You will also observe traces of Anglo Boer war activities with Sentry walls and the MbyeMmbye Fort site (10). Looking down into the Wasbank valley, the MbyeMbye Fort site is seen. In this secluded spot you can stop for tea and enjoy the variety of trees and bird-life present. Follow yellow markers across the plateau over a small mountain stream (not perennial) and then down a steep descent to the swimming pool (12). There are several swimming spots (12) along the stream and some slides as well. The water is clean and drinkable. You will pick up the white markers which takes you through ‘Short Tom pass’. This stretch is very slippery in wet weather and hikers need to be careful. It is the path where the cattle walk. The sound of the Manzimyama stream is audible far below. Keep on the look out for raptors and the mountain reedbuck. On leaving the pass you‘ll reach the four way crossing passing the Atlas tree again. You can exercise two choices: you can either return to Manor house following the same path taken the morning or continue on the trail following the white markers via the Matobos to the Fountain as per option (A).