Now for Something not Completely Different

The Johannesburg Hiking Club is now launching HERITAGE HIKES in the Magaliesberg.

How many times have we hiked to Castle Gorge, traversing the peaceful Damhoek Saddle on the way? It was not always peaceful; in 1901, the shells were flying, as British forces tried to clear the Boers sheltering in the area. Only 100 metres from our regular path, you can see sangars (a small protected structure built from stones or sandbags and used for observing or firing from, which is built up from the ground. Sangars are normally constructed in terrain where the digging of trenches would not be practicable), or one-man forts built for protection by the British troops. The remains of a double blockhouse can also be seen to the right of our path as we pass the summit. Imagine carrying rocks while wearing an army uniform – hoping no Boer marksmen were watching!

Long before the Anglo-Boer conflict, these passes were traversed by Tswana tribesmen, and long before that – prehistoric man; we are privileged to hike through one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world!

Pim Commissaris and his team are putting together a series of heritage hikes for the club. This adds a whole new dimension to the hiking experience. We can still enjoy the exercise, nature, and fresh air, but now we can also get an appreciation of the rich history of our country.  Nooitgedacht and Silkaats’ Nek hikes are on the way, but there will be more to follow. Pim has been offered assistance by the very knowledgeable Andre Wedepohl; you may have attended his presentations at Mountain Club of South Africa meetings.

 

Andre explains the Damhoek conflict at a JHF Johannesburg Heritage Foundation function on 30 July 2017.

With all its problems, we live in a wonderful country – and we have a great club. Come along and see for yourself.

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