4. Richmond. December 2020 to July 2021
After 4 months in the UK and unable to do any travelling due to Corona Virus lockdown levels we were glad to be able to return to Richmond in December 2020. We had nearly a month of seeing family and friends before we went into another lockdown in January 2021 but,after a month the pubs, restaurants and holiday accommodation re-opened. In March Kevin had another small operation on his hand (dupytrens contracture again) so we didn't do any proper travelling until April, however we did take the opportunity to do some driving around our local area, exploring new areas as well as visiting places we'd been to before.
Very happy to see our cat again. As usual Geoff had done a great job of looking after our house and the cat while we were away.
Lovely to be able to sit outside on our veranda and enjoy a braai.
Soon after we returned there was a family get together - an early celebration of Charlie's birthday, she is one of our great neices. It was well over a year since we'd last seen them.
In December 2020 the twins, Jason and Mark, turned 21 and there was a birthday celebration for them.
In September 2020 Pat and Colin sold their house in Richmond and moved to Hilton for a few months and then bought a house in Howick. We had a family get together in March. The Umgeni RIver is at the bottom of their garden and the kids and their parents had a crab fishing competition.
The back of Pat and Colin's house from the garden.
Crab fishing in the Umgeni River.
During the 4 months we were in the UK we only went to a pub once so it was great to be able to see our friends again and have a drink with them.
Friday night pool competition.
Kevin and Geoff enjoying a beer after Kevin's hand operation.
Richmond is surrounded by productive farmland. The biggest crop is sugar-cane with forrestry also covering thousands of hectares. There are also cattle, chickens, oranges, lemons, avocados and market gardening. We took the opportunity to have a few days out exploring the area, mostly on gravel roads.
Eston is a tiny village, about 30km from RIchmond via the tar road, but is known in the area because of the nearby sugar mill. There are several gravel roads in the area which we explored on 3 different drives. The landscape is hilly with lots of dams which have been created by the farmers.
Newly planted sugar cane with forests in the background.
When ready for harvesting cane is burnt and then cut by hand - a very dirty job.
Cane is transported by lorries and tractors to the sugar mill.
Eston sugar mill.
All the farms have plenty of dams which were full after the good rains early in the year.
A small, very pretty dam that we passed.
We (visited Hella Hella which is on the Umkomass River and then followed a track which took us down to Long Pools further downstream - a lot shorter than going all the way round via the tar road. There were 4 vehicles altogether and our freind Graham assured us that it was straightforeward but since the last time he's used the track the rain had created several gullies, however with Graham's excellent guiding we all made it down.
The Umkomaas valley.
The first of the gullies - not too bad!
We had 3 m
Near the bottom there was a deep gully - over 1m. Graham had to cut down some branches so that we could get past it.
Graham guiding Geoff past the gully - he had covered the gully with the branches he'd cut down.
The quickest way to get to Midmar is via Pietermaritzburg but there are a couple of other routes that utilize gravel roads and go through some lovely countryside. Midmar Dam, which covers 1,788 hectares) is primarily known as a major water sports and fishing locatio. It has campsites and chalets and is also popular with day visitors. The Midmar Mile is an international swimming event that takes place annually and is the world's largest open water swimming event. The Nature Reserve is on the opposite side of the dam to the leisure activities area and is much quieter.
We spent a couple of hours driving around the reserve and only saw a couple of other cars. We saw quite a few animals, but mostly from afar as there aren't that many tracks.
A view of part of the dam from the highest point. There were a few fishermen, speedboats, sailing craft and waterskiers out on the dam.
A group of blesbok.
Cosmos flowering along the roadside.
After good rains the dam was still 100% full in April.
We saw several groups of zebra.
On our way back we found a lovely road that wound its way through the rolling countryside down to Byrne.
Another visit to one of our favourite places. It's always lovely to have a walk around the gardens which have a variety of habitats.
There are some lovely old established trees.
A stream that runs through the gardens.
We had 3 m
One of the forest trails.
A new ropes course has been set up recently - we weren't tempted!
From Hella Hella there's a steep road up the mountainside. We stopped near the top to look back down to the Umkomaas River.
On the uplands there's less sugar cane. It's mostly timber and cattle farms.
We had 3 m
A large herd of dairy cows.
Beaulieu Dam, just outside Richmond.
Fort Nottingham was built in the 1850s to protect local white farmers from attacks by bushmen from the Drakensberg. Nowadays it is a tiny village at the end of a small road. We took the back roads through some lovely countryside to visit it. This area is called The Midlands and is also a good farming area with cattle, chickens, forestry and arable cros, but no sugar cane as its higher elevation means that it gets frosty in the winter.
Sadly the Fort Nottingham Museum was close, however it was a lovely day out.
Open grassland above RIchmond.
One of the farms that we passed.
Typical Midlands landscape.
The 'Town Hall' at Nottingham Road.
Richmond Riders had organised a bike weekend at HIghover Nature Reserve and asked the Richmond MOTHs to do the food for 2 breakfasts and lunches. We took our van and stayed overnight. There were about 25 bike riders who rode and could choose from a couple of different gravel road routes each day. Several had brought their partners so we catered for about 60 people altogether, including the MOTH helpers.
Riders and marshalls getting together for the Saturday morning briefing before the start of the ride.
A couple of riders setting off.
Late afternoon we lit a fire down by the river.
Sitting around the fire after a great evening braai.
Last updated: October 2021