The entire Grahamstown – Cape Town trail of 1 200km can be divided into two halves of roughly 600km each. We have already developed the first half, which is made up of the Grahamstown – Gamtoosvallei (Patensie) and the Gamtoosvallei – Knysna sections, and are working on the other half.
This section is called 'Crossing Over' because from Day 4 you catch a glimpse of the Cockscomb mountains in the dim and distant future and then spend a week slowly getting closer, building up to the climax of actually climbing over the mighty range. 'Crossing Over' is also a metaphor for something special that happens in the process.
1. Meet at 4pm at the Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery outside Grahamstown
2. Walk along the quiet Highlands Road, sleep at St Cyprians Church. 20km
3. Through game farms and olive orchards to Alicedale. 28km
4. The Poort, along disused 1880 railway track/road, into Kromrivier Valley. 32km
5. Climb onto Zuurberg Ridge, along old pass to Village Inn. 20 km
6. Into the lovely Slagboom/Addo valley and on to Enon. 30km
7. Into the Sundays Valley, Kirkwood, and the citrus farms. 24km
8. Through the karoo veld, across Steenbokvlakte, to Palmietrivier. 31km
9. Soaking up the Eastern Cape bushveld, to Tygerhoek farm. 23km.
10. Rest day
11. Alongside the Grootwinterhoekberge to Pinnacle Gorge. 23km.
12. Over the mighty Cockscomb, down to Kammievlei. 22km
13. Stroll down into the Gamtoos Valley and end with a celebratory meal at Padlangs. 22km
The name of 'Kom Nader' comes from a small general dealer shop in the Gamtoosvallei on the first day's walk. It aptly captures the sense of invitation that pervades the entire trail, a spirit that draws you in to explore more, taste more, open yourself more ... Kom nader, it whispers, come closer ...
1. Meet at 4 pm at the Gamtoosvallei NG Kerksaal outside Patensie
2. Start walking ... through the gentle Gamtoos Valley (18)
3. Up the beautiful Grootrivier Valley into Cambria (18)
4. Through magnificent Poortjies, big climb to Bergplaas (19)
5. Down into the wilds, through streams to Doornkloof (20)
6. Rugged ups and downs to Rooikloof (Zandvlakte) (28)
7. Valley undulations, Babe se Winkel, sleep at BoKloof (32)
8. More quiet valley stroll to Makkedaat Caves (23)
9. Awesome climb through Niewekloof to Vaalwater (18)
10. Ververlate vlakte and flowers to Hartbeesrivier (31)
11. Lang pad and cross-country to Tossie in Uniondale (26)
12. Stunning ou-wapad, then down Prince Alfred Pass to de Vlugt (33)
13. Into the pine plantations and indigenous woods, to Diepwalle (33)
14. Through the Big Green Hug and down to the Knysna lagoon (26)
P.S. Running events take half the time, and cycling even less.
As Kate Clow, who set up the Lycian Way in Turkey, wisely advised me in an email, "You will find that there is both an art and a science to route-creation. The science is to create achievable daily stages using whenever possible existing paths and interesting natural features - but with a purpose/direction and a demonstrable effect of achieving a string of targets. The art is 'creating' the high-points of the route - a sudden view, a total change of pace, a social experience with shepherds or villagers, an opportunity to swim, etc. You can determine the science to a large extent from maps; the rest is art."
1. ‘achievable daily stages’ – because of the nature of our platteland and scattered farms, there are often quite long distances between possible overnight stops.
2. ‘using wherever possible existing paths’ – another challenge because we don’t have a tradition of ‘public paths’ and ‘public access’ as can be found in many European countries; and in addition many of our ‘public’ roads are locked by farmers.
3. ‘a purpose/direction and a demonstrable effect of achieving a string of targets’ – one simple implication of this is to make the route as direct as possible, as the daily distances are usually quite long and people do not want to wander too far off course, no matter how inviting.
4. ‘creating the high points of the route’ – we have tried to do this by choosing trails seldom used or inaccessible to the general public; having a huge variety of overnight stops – from hard country church pews to luxury guest houses; meeting the wonderful salt-of-the-earth locals en route; experiencing a wide range of geographical, botanical, and historical features in the countryside.
5. And one that Kate does not mention – security. Poverty breeds crime and there are unfortunately still too many areas of extreme poverty in our country. Pilgrims need to be able to walk in solitude at times and in safety always.So far, it seems as if we are getting a good balance. The countryside through which we pass is simply breath-taking, our hosts and local inhabitants are wonderfully warm and welcoming, and everyone has many opportunities to be solitary but safe.