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Offline Robin Brown

Fun in the Breedekloof Valley
« on: October 23, 2011, 03:00:35 pm »

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Fun in The Breedekloof Valley

By Robin Brown

LUCK was on our side in October when we arrived early one Friday in Rawsonville, the small village at the head of the Breedekloof Valley.
We were booked into the Monte Rosa B&B as friends had invited us to stay in the valley and enjoy the celebration of food, wine, music and most importantly the adventure.
And after spending more than 30 years merely stopping in the valley, parking the vehicles, before climbing, hiking and mountaineering across every peak in the Hex River range and the Du Toits Kloof range it was high time to see what really happens on the ground.
We had looked down on the Breede valley nestling under Goudini Sneeukop, Fonteintjiesberg, Slanghoek Needle and Du Toits Peak all often snow capped in winter but never spent any time visiting the myriad of wineries, eateries and places of interest in one of the country's most highly productive regions.
High above the valley on the slopes of the mighty Fonteintjiesberg the first snow skiing took place in the early 1920s but was stopped by the Worcester Municipality fearing that it would pollute the towns water supply.
The ski club then moved to the Matroosberg mountains.
Our first surprise was on arrival at the Monte Rosa situated in the main street of Rawsonville.
It was the last place we would have imagined a top class guest house to be situated.
But after turning through the gates we were amazed to see a large impressive house in large grounds, which we later discovered was built in the 1900s when the original family practically owned the entire valley.
And one of the legends goes that on many a night the young men would party and then race their horses up and down the main passage.
The house was bought seven years ago by Rolf Von Rudiger who while living in Llundudno survived a vicious knife attack in his own home.
He searched for a quieter safer environment and fortunately came across Monte Rosa, spent a year renovating and opened the guest house.
Friday afternoon burst into life to the sound of popping corks and last minute preparations for the bash of the year.
In fact it is so popular that all the eateries were already fully booked for Friday nights dinner.
Even Die Vette Mossel the famous outdoor eaterie in Mossel Bay travels to Rawsonville and sets up an outdoor venue at Deetlefs wine farm where diners kick off their shoes and pace themselves through a myriad of seafood courses all cooked over an open fire.
Our friends visiting from the UK could not believe their luck when we introduced them to outdoor cuisine South African style all washed down with some of the best wine in the country.
Deetlefs the third oldest family owned winery in the country offers the Stonecross range characterised by upfront fruit and soft tannins on the palate for easy drinking.
All fell in love with their Chenin Blanc, Chardonay blend and at R40 a bottle wanted to take a container home.
Saturday morning dawned and after a mamoth breakfast prepared by Laura, Rolfs wife the fun really began with all the wineries offering a huge selection of activities from slow markets for the shopperholics to raisin spitting competitions, the chance to drive ones own 4x4 up Sneeuberg a fairly low peak and have breakfast on the trai or target shoot with either a pellet gun or bow and arrow.
We naturally shopped and bought the freshest of mushrooms and strawberries, pigged out on vetkoek and washed it all down with homemade gingerbear at Picardis.
We then opted to drive into the mountains to the Dwarsberg Trout hatchery, which must be one of the best kept secrets in the Boland.
Tucked into the mountains 11km from the centre of Rawsonville and situated on the Smalblar river, which runs below the Stettyns Kloof Dam the hideaway offers several types of accommodation from cottages to camping in what must be one of the most relaxing environments and only 90 minutes from Cape Town.
And here avid trout and bass fishing enthusiasts can enjoy some of the finest beats in the country.
In fact it is so well renowned that Eddie Herbst a well known local trout fisherman hosts and guides fishermen from all around the world each year on the river.
We drove on a further seven km on the narrow gravel road to the base of the dam wall and then climbed up to view the magnificent catchment area of the dam, which was built in 1955 to supply water to Worcester.
Another great landmark created by a Gauteng visitor to the area is a huge dead tree that for some reason he had planted upside down alongside the road.
A further best kept secret is the sweeping road that runs through the Slanghoek Valley and is guarded by two giant peaks, Slanghoek Needle and Slanghoek peak.
Here in the shadow of the mountains lies several wineries, again fine eateries and places to overnight. The walks along the base of the mountain range can keep one occupied for many hours.
The valley is also famous for gliding and enthusiasts and pilots migrate from all over the globe to enjoy the excellent thermals offered by the huge surrounding mountain ranges.
After the weekend and reflecting on we had seen and experienced we know we will have to return and enjoy all the other actvities we missed.
After all a weekend is far to short to experience all that is on offer.
The good news is that most of the wineries and eateries are open every day of the week including Saturdays.
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