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Old Mill Drift Long Weekend

31 October 2021 - Mike Ilsley
With the cancellation of the 60th celebrations I decided to arrange a trip to one of the venues that we would have visited that weekend, Old Mill Drift farm, on the banks of the Caledon River bordering Lesotho.

With 13 vehicles and 30 people booked we set off from Gauteng, in perfect weather. Two vehicles travelled down on Wednesday, with the rest following on Thursday or Friday. The group consisted of a mix of Land Rovers from the Defender range, with some Discovery’s, and the members ranged from old hands to brand new members. On arrival, it was obvious that the site allocated to us was not ideal, and a bit small to accommodate our group, but we decided to stay put rather than move to one of the other camp areas, as there was no power at the other sites. 

On the Friday we had opted to do the river trail, which winds along the banks of the Caledon. The sandstone formations in the area are stunning, with huge cliffs surrounding the convoy at times. The river makes many turns and each new vista was just as beautiful as the last. This is cattle area and they were dotted around the flatter areas. The birders were delighted to see a Bald Iris and add it to their lists. On the return trip we came to the point where the Old Mill Trail starts. We decided to scout the beginning of the trail which we had planned to do the next day. The beginning of the trail showed evidence that the trail had not been well maintained and that it was badly eroded. After about a kilometer we encountered an obstacle that would be very risky to attempt with vehicles with roof top tents and loaded roof racks. 

The convoy headed back to camp, stopping under some big trees on the banks of the river, for the lunch break. That evening, around the fire the route condition was discussed and a decision was taken, given the conditions, not to attempt the route. Knowing the area fairly well I selected a few places to visit the next day. 

On Saturday, we took the dust roads along the river toward Fouriesburg, stopping to view the Queen Victoria sandstone formation. Then we drove on to the Mile High winery for a wine tasting. The next stop was La Fromage Cheesery where we enjoyed a light lunch of their prize-winning cheeses. After a leisurely run back to Old Mill Drift farm the rest of the afternoon was spent catching up with old friends and new. Some of the members popped in to the lovely town of Clarens a few kilometers away. Not what we had planned for the day, but certainly most enjoyable. 

It was a pity that the venue and trail were a little disappointing but the LROC people were fantastic about it all and I am sure everyone enjoyed the trip as I know I did.

Best wishes

Mike

 

 

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