Out on the back roads

BEING a bit of Robert Frost (the poet) fan I have a habit of going to places on roads and routes other than the most direct.

Rarely have I managed to get myself in a pickle and have had to double back, and more often than not each has been a refreshing alternative to the sights we normally see going quickly from A to B.

Down here I have managed to take three such alternative routes into our hinterland and have enjoyed each.

The first was from Port Edward to the N2 at Ezingolweni that goes past the rolling sugar cane, coffee and macadamia plantations and overlooks the stunning Umtamvuna River and the upper portions of its nature reserve.

The transformation from the humid sub-tropical coast to the more temperate uplands is pronounced and as one get closer to Ezingolweni, proud rural family residences are evident as is the friendliness of the local people. The roads are good- this is also exceptional cycling country.

My next route was from Shelly Beach via Izotcha and on towards the N2 at Paddock with its quaint buildings from a bygone era, old railway facilities­ and an active farmers club – this little hamlet is in my opinion one of great potential for becoming an almost mini Clarens with hospitality arts, craft, rail heritage and unique retail related attractions.

A small part of this journey is on a well maintained gravel road that also passes the Nyandazulu waterfall­.

I often recommend this route as a cross-country way of getting not only to the N2, but also to the popular Oribi Gorge.

The third route I took was from the N2 at Hibberdene inland towards Umzumbe­ and using the old tarred road north to Pennington. Besides this route being a tranquil alternative and seeing some lovely forested valley and cliff landscapes, it also solved a mystery for me.

Many, many years ago we used to holiday at Banana Beach and on one such journey we were informed at a point in a river valley that a Pinetown- based psychic had predicted the location of a murdered woman whose body was in fact found in a culvert over which we had driven.

For decades (with the new road being constructed) I often wondered where that valley was as it was imprinted in my mind.

Well my trip to Umzumbe did the trick - I recognised the site immediately and my conundrum was put to bed.

All too often we forget that there are absolute gems along our country byways and it is really worthwhile taking a little extra time to go along them.

At no stage have I felt unsafe and in just engaging in the other dimensions of our South Coast I certainly have felt enriched in the process.

With a good map or our Southern Explorer Guide I recommend such days out, and don’t forget the camera because these places are worthy of photo stops.

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