It must have been an eldritch night bedecked with strange stars, dear reader, when the mighty and wise old men held council, and so was born in their minds the idea of calling together many noble warriors, that they might make merry and bring hail to a fallen warrior, who went by the name of Watty.
It was thus that I, sir LeonDude, together with the fair Lady Cave Girl and her daughter, the young Pebbles, prepared ourselves for the arduous journey that would take us far, far away to strange and wonderful places, full of mystery and magic, sand-ogres, mud-trolls and monsters that live in rivers.
We loaded up our coach, and, giving our horses the first day off to rest, we drove in the coach to the quant and curious village of Colesburg. Here we set ourselves up in a little inn where the landlord was a friend of ours by word only, and he went by the name of Nimmo.
Already in Colesburg we were introduced to the cuisine of the southern part of the country, through which we were to travel for several days before our return to our beloved Gauteng. (Laugh not, fools, for we know where the gold lies buried!)
Here our coach would be left until later, and the next morning we saddled our horses. Now such horses are rare to find, and a mighty breed indeed. They were bred in the far east, and the foreign tongue had called them the KLR650, for whatever reason they only know. (Probably something to do with their gods though, for such a bike should surely be made only in recognition of a great god).
Our destination for today is the picturesque village of Uitenhage.
By daybreak our horses are saddled up, saddle bags thrown over and after feeding them we head out of town. Now we are loath to travel the road travelled by the peasants, merchants, highwaymen, policeman and other robbers, and many coaches. We therefore take to the quiet roads meandering through the farms and fields.
Our mighty steads thunder through the valleys and over the hills, their well-shod hoofs secure around every bend.
Soon we reach the little town of Cradock, and LO! Here, at an eatery well frequented by riders of mighty steads, we find our host of the previous night, Nimmo. He has taken the highway, and is only now going to start adventures into the unknown.
We eat, and then we head to our destination. Now the road is long and the day short, so we must now too take the highway to make up time, and soon, with just a sprinkling of rain to settle the dust and make breathing easier, we reach our destination of Uitenhage.
What strange country are we riding through!
Here are none of the plants we are used to, none of the animals that we are familiar with. The plants are little shrubs, no higher than a manís hip (and a short man, at that).
We sleep the night at an inn for travelers, where we feed well on meat and ale. Tomorrow, we take on the most dangerous of roads, the Baviaans.
Blast those Romans and their abacus, this infernal counting machine is driving me crazy.
Here is another woodcarving of a scene that I painted upon the road.
And also this!
The gods of rain has been good, and the river that brings life to the dry dessert is flowing much strong!
Our second day of adventure
On the morrow we wake and bathe, and then itís back on the horses and we gallop onwards, and what sights we see!
We stop at Patensie, and now the air is thick with the thunder of horses as other mighty warriors come thundering by, all on their way to the Baviaans, where they too will be drinking hail to the fallen warrior Watty.
We break fast in Patensie, and then we head out to Baviaanskloof.
Now reader, I have heard many frightening tails about this road, but I can tell you that they were mostly false, the braggings of men who would make themselves great by making the beast they have slain greater than it was. But I will tell you this too Ė it is indeed as beautiful as many have spoken.
The deep ravines, the sheer cliffs and, when the horses are stopped for a rest, the absolute quiet will make a man stop and think. It is true that he will probably think of ale and woman, but think he will.
Now we reach the river of which many warnings have come, and it is at a place called Smits Kraal.
Donít ask me about that name, it is in a heathen language which I know not wot of, and I cannot guess its meaning.
Here I take through the steads, lest one of them might be injured by the other riders in my group.
The young Pebbles is happy for me to do so, but faith, the lady CG is much vexed that I should call her riding abilities into question.
After stopping for some refreshments which we had prepared the night before we ride on, and the road continues to be absolutely perfect.
There was an unfortunate but luckily trouble-free moment when the young lady Pebbles dismounted from her horse, because the stubborn thing wanted to rest at the most in Ė opportune moment, but we spoke to in and encouraged it, and soon made it understand that the road ahead would not be long anymore, and then it could rest for two nights.
Soon we reach the place of which we had dreamed for so many nights, and we dismount and set up camp. Our tents are pitched amid others in the green fields, with horses tethered all around and great shouts of warriors meeting old friends, old battles are recounted and new friends are made.
At the great marque we consume much ale, and for two days and two nights we greatly rejoice in the beauty of our surroundings and also in the sheer amount of ale we can consume.
Here is a woodcut of the young Lady Pebbles.
Yes, you might notice that I have skipped a day there. I fear I drank myself completely out of one day, as us warriors are wont to do from time to time. Now the festivities are over, the ale and meat have been well consumed and it is time for us to continue our journey. Not homeward, oh no, for us there lies awaiting much adventure, for we have plans.
But sítruth, what a numbingly cold morning it was, and the saddle of my horse was frozen over. I faith, my behind would be well frozen had I had to sit on that, thus I let it warm up a bit!
We saddle and mount our steads, and then we head out of the homestead of our hosts. Now there is a quick stop as the lady CG cannot convince her horse to step over a rock that is hidden in the river, but I quickly take over and lead the horse around, so not much time wasted.
We then continued riding in the glorious early morning, until we came upon a place so enchanted with a spell of beauty that we simply had to take rest, and here we used the fire that the Magician Michnus had sold me to warm water that we might make coffee. What a wonderful thing this is, the magic called Jicko!
We then continued on our travels, warmed up with coffee and ready for the dayís riding. Now we took the road that led south, and pretty soon we were on a road that many have spoken of. This pass is called Prince Alfredís, after a man who lived back in the mists of time. This road is full of many twist and turns, and we went slowly, lest one of our steeds should lose its footing, but the steeds kept steady, and soon enough we came upon another place which a fireĖdefeating Dragon which goes by the name of Groenie had told us much about. This was the house of Angieís G Spot, and here we stopped while the innkeeperís wife, Angie, prepared us a meal which was consumed, once again, with ale.
Truly great warriors, if you ever ride into battle upon that road, make haste to Angieís, and take strength from the hamburgers that she cooks, for you will be brave and ready for battle after such a mighty meal.
Or you might want an afternoon snoozy, if you are a bit older.
After having eaten mightily, we returned to the road, and soon we reached a road which was signposted. Here, the wise old man Jupiter had told me, I was to take the road marked ĎKom se padí. Once again that strange foreign language, but we took the road, leading through enchanted forests full of fairies, elves and, if you believe some, elephants. But the elephants are probably a lie, there are only fairies and elves.
Soon we passed through the town of Knysna, and then we headed for Sedgefield, where we booked into an inn for the night. Now, for the first time, we could find no ale to drink with our meal, which we prepared over a fire. Strange are the laws of this country, that we may not buy ale at all times.
Today, we have to bid fare-thee-well to the lady Pebbles, who can only ride with us to the town of Oudshoorn, and then she must leave us to return home.
The lady Cave Girl and myself though, have got plans. We are going into Die Hel.
Okay, some translation is needed here, for Die does not mean to be grabbed and dragged asunder by Death, but it means The. Thus, we are going into The Hel. Yes, there be demons, devils and great fires, but we are going in there, and we mean to return too.
But first, we ride up an old road, passing over Montagu pass. Here the secret art of masonry has been taken to great highs, just look at the great arches they built!
Magnificent were the roads, and hot was the air, but we rode so that great clouds of dust arose, thundering trough the countryside, our horses taking great strides!
Just outside the town of Oudshoorn though, my stead starts limping. Something has gone wrong with her front foot, and it takes a lot of rubbing and gentle care to get her back to running fit again.
To save some time, we tell the fair Pebbles to go, ride like the wind, chase the night and beat the moon, and be in Colesburg before nightfall can surround you.
She mounts her stead and in a thunderous gallop she is out of there, beating a path to Colesburg.
After seeing to my stead we mount up again, and having stopped in Oudshoorn for some supplies we head up into the mountains. Here the road is once again only frequented by the brave. The pass is called the Swartberg, and a more beautiful pass I do not think exists. Here the ogres are still wild, trolls nest in the hollows and the road winds, climbing steeply up and up, until you reach the top. Well of course until you reach the top, where else would it go?
Soon, there is the turn off to Die Hel. It is signposted, as if anybody would like to go there, but I suppose there are those, like us, who are curious.
Now let me tell you, the road to Hel is paved with good intentions. But the road into Die Hel is paved with nothing. It is a thin stretch of road winding along mountainsides, into and out of deep ravines, up and down the mountainside and into and out of dark shade. It is not broad or easy, as some books would have you believe, but it is beautiful.
I stopped often to draw pictures, and enclose with this letter a woodcarving of one, that you, dear reader, might also know the beauty of the place. But alas, I cannot draw as nature does, so I can only urge you, go there yourself, for this place can only be seen and experienced, it cannot be shared by the ramblings of a maddened horseman such as I.
At last we reach the treacherous downhill into Die Hel. Now, there is no more turning back, and soon we are going down, down, and ever further down, until we reach it at last, Die Hel.
Fortune favors the brave, and indeed there are those who would not believe that the lady Cave Girl could make such an arduous and dangerous journey, but enclosed is the evidence, she rides where many others fear to tread.
Here we pay the guardsman dearly to sleep in a deserted old house, but it is a rare experience to be there.
So as not to have to do battle with the denizens of Die Hel, we sneak out of there early in the morning, leading our steads back up the steep path, taking care that their step is sure.
The only road into and out of Die Hel.
Yet our pace is brisk, and soon we are enjoying coffee at a place called Teeberg, which I am led to believe means Tea Mountain. I think it should be renamed to something more useful and correct, like Bloody Marvelous Views.
We are now back on the Swartberg pass, and we drop into the town of Prince Albert. Lady CG is enthralled with the town and, though I want to push on for I know that an arduous trek lies before us, she tarries, convincing me that the smell coming from one of the many eateries is good enough to waste time for.
Well a warrior should not go into battle on an empty stomach, so we tarry and have a meal of bread with pork and eggs. We then mount our horses again, and head out of town. Soon we are on a dusty stretch of road that lies before us like a moonscape. We give our horses free reign, and they speed merrily across the countryside, maybe faster than the wind, maybe faster than what is good. A few twists and turns, and then we reach a piece of road that I have fought, and won, on a previous adventure.
This road is called Oukloof pass, and although the mountain is not high, the valleys not deep, it is a piece of road that takes time to ride. On this pass the lady Cave Girlís horse throws her, but we calm the horse down, speak nicely to it and it carries her again with no effort.
That night we sleep in a dusty town called Fraserburg.
Here the wind screams over the open and flat countryside that is the Karoo, where lies the skeletons of beasts that lived so long ago that their bones have turned to stone.
Here the stars tell of their children, and you can see them, upon their millions (if you know that word), and I cannot count them even if I used all my fingers and all my toes, and then used the lady Cave Girlís fingers and toes too!
We leave Fraserburg, and today we leave late, for we have but a short ride to Carnavon, where we will sleep in an inn much frequented by mighty warriors, great mages and wise men. Here is the Blikkies Bar, famed wherever stories of ale are told, and here is where your horse gets to sleep inside. Not because you or your horse are deserving of it for doing great deeds, but because the townsfolk will surely steal your horse and saddle if you leave it for one moment tethered outside.
We walk around the town of Carnarvon, drawing pictures of the quant buildings and solid churches, and after seeing the whole town and eating at an eatery, we are back at the inn less than an hour later.
That night, we drink mightily. We roast food on the fire in the hearth, hold palaver deep into the night and go to bed exhausted.
After losing my way a bit, I eventually find the right road out of Carnarvon and we head into the hinterlands once again. But lo! The road that runs from Carnarvon to Vosburg is dirt no more. Here, like a great black snake lying stretched out across the world, lies a newly built road, complete with new markings.
We make good speed on this road, and too soon we are in Vosburg.
I say too soon, because the inn is not yet awake, and there is no coffee to be bought, so we take from our flask and make our own.
We then follow this road to Britstown, where we turn off this black road and once again head into the farmlands. Today we ride different roads, some recently graded, some very old and almost invisible, and some just normal dirt roads.
We find this strange bird next to the road, tied down so that it cannot fly away. I wonder at this thing, do they keep it for the eggs or the feathers, or the meat? It is so big, I am sure a person could fly away on it, if you could tame it!
Iím surprised to find that itís quite early yet when our horses gallop into Vanderkloof after a brief shower of rain.
But the horse that the lady Cave Girl rides is not happy.
Itís having difficulty breathing, and I have to take it apart (It is a secret art, taking apart horses) and rinse out its lungs.
Anyways, after seeing to the horse she rides happily again, free to breathe in great gulps the fresh air of the countryside.
Here we sleep for the night after cooking our meal over a fire and ridding the town of a large part of its ale store. Ah, life is good.
The next day we ride the roads to Bloemhof dam. Now I can see the scenery changing. Behind us lie the dusty plains of the South Lands.
We are coming closer to home, and we are now riding through the Free Lands.
Here the farms are great indeed, and I can see where our cities get their food from.
We stop for lunch at an eatery in the town of Boshof, where local folk amuse us much in a pub with their antics. After eating we mount up again, and head out of the town of Boshof. Barely had we left the town though, when I stop and dismount, the reason for which I cannot well remember now. However, when the Lady CG stops next to me, I notice that we have befallen great tragedy. Her horse is ill, there is green stuff coming from its insides. This is the stuff that must keep the horse cool, and we worry much about it.
I decide that we cannot push the horse to ride the hard roads. We head back to Boshof, and here I take a closer look at the horse, but sítruth I am neither vet nor doctor, and I know not how to cure this ailment the horse has.
Now, worried about the horse, we stick to the tar roads and head to Bloemhof. Even if we cannot complete the ride as I had planned, we have to get the horse back to our house in the hamlet of Johannesburg. We reach Bloemhof dam, but that night we have to sleep in our tent, and the lady Cave Girl and myself are not happy with the hosts that we have chosen, for they charge many silver coins that we might stay over, and their premises are not clean, and their ablutions are not good.
The next morning is cold, and we take a long time to pack up our camp and saddle our horses.
Then we head of for Coligny, which will be the last town on our journey before we reach home.
The road is none too interesting, but I find the riding very pleasant, going at slow speeds to as not to cause further injury to the ladyís horse.
Once again we use the Magic Jicko, and coffee is well enjoyed.
Even so, it is still early when we reach Coligny, and our host, who goes by the curious name of Slakkie, is much delighted to have our company. We share many a story and joke, recount good old times and later that night, after drinking lots of ale and eating a hearty meal prepared by our hostís wife, we slide into a clean bed, and fall fast asleep.
But there is a surprise. Slakkie is heading into Johannesburg with an empty trailer early on the morrow. Another friend, ZAR, wants to go look at a horse, and Slakkie convinces the lady CG to put her ailing horse on the trailer. At first she is unwilling, because then I would have to ride the roads by myself, but I am a fearless warrior, and I soon tell her I can ride on my own.
This day dawns freezing cold. Although I have the whole day to ride, I am now anxious to get home. Thus I ride, and I ride hard, and within three hours I am stopped in front of the house. The lady Cave Girl will join me later tonight, when we will go and visit the Dragon Groenie, there to consume much ale, regale him with stories of our travels and eat a merry feast.
Dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed my tale, and that it might inspire you to also throw over the saddle bags, mount your horse and go seek adventure!
As a last word, thank you to my riding partners the lady Cave Girl and the fair Pebbles, without whom this trip would have waxed mightily boring.
PS. For other tales recounted by yours truly, please see the below-mentioned scrolls!
If you enjoyed this ride report, please support the author by visiting his books page.