A trail for all seasons

Who would think, as we walked a well-trodden path under a canopy of leafy boughs, that on the one side we were passing manicured gardens surrounding opulent residences and on the other the constant traffic of the M3 highway into town – barely a rumble of tyres on tar and only the occasional barking dogs disturbed the peace.

The Spaanschemat RIver Trail begins opposite Peddlars on the Bend and takes us down to the Grootbosch meadow, where an indigenous garden laid out in a labyrinth has been established to highlight the plight of our fynbos species facing imminent extinction should habitats continue to be eliminated. Signage serves to educate, and although being a far cry from a lush garden, it demonstrates fynbos for what it is – sometimes insignificant and drab, being the survivor of harsh climatic conditions, yet ready to burst into bloom at the slightest encouragement. It is heartwarming to find that there are people who will make great efforts to preserve our environment.

As we continued along the trail, deep in the mink and manure belt, two young horse-riders passed along a higher path, their steeds glistening chestnuts in peak condition, cantering easily in flowing rhythm – a beautiful sight on an early autumn morning. Meandering through tall bushes past the currently dry stream that flows down the meadow, we soon came to a stretch of grass leading up to the back road through the Constantia hills, where courteous motorists stopped to allow the group of 20 senior citizens to cross safely – chivalry is not dead. A shortish stroll along the roads led to the next green belt, also immaculately maintained and recently mown, although I would imagine more than one man mowed this meadow! A perfectly placed copse provided shade for the weary to enjoy tea and cake (a birthday treat), before setting off up the hill to the lush vineyards of Groot Constantia.

To pass through the oldest wine estate in South Africa as part of a ramble through the suburbs is yet another privilege we do not take for granted, and we left only footprints in the dust and took many photos of the abundant grapes awaiting harvest. (Perhaps we might have been tempted by a bunch or two if they were table grapes, but these are the tiny grapes destined for the wine maker’s expert care.)

The Sillery Trail forms the last part of this circular walk where there is the opportunity to buy freshly cut flowers from a long-established flower farm, followed by a refreshing beer at the pub! All in all, despite being nearly 7.5km, a trail for all seasons.

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