HIKING – Emerald Vale Brewery Farm

“I don’t get it. The trail looked so flat on the map.” Unknown

It’s now been several months since we arrived in our new town and we really felt the need to get back into nature (and our hiking clothes)! But we were warned it was not safe everywhere, so where can we go?

Then we remembered the very first place we visited on arrival in East London back in May. A brewery farm on the outskirts of the city, Emerald Vale Brewery Farm, which also had hiking trails. (You can read about that visit here).

There are several hiking options: 4.8km, 8.7km, 12.5km and then the longer ones of 21km and 26km. Since we have not hiked the last couple of months, we thought to give one of the shorter options a try … so, 12.5km (7.7 miles) it would be. At that moment, it sounded quite easy (and relatively flat) …

Entrance to the hiking trails at Emerald Vale Brewery

When we left the house, it was overcast (while it rained overnight). It was a cool morning and we thought that hats won’t be necessary … it was anyway going to be a short hike. In our backpack we had rain jackets, two bottles of water and a packet of energy sweets. For hikers that were supposed to be experienced, we were terribly unprepared!

Start of the hiking trail

There is an honesty box at the start of the trail and after depositing our fee of R25 p/p (€1.40 p/p), we started to follow the coloured arrows (blue was our trail’s colour).

Just follow the arrows
Emerald Vale Farm – covered in grass and tall trees

I don’t think we were even 2km into the trail, when we realised we made a big mistake by not bringing our hats with … the sun started to move the clouds away and it was becoming hot and humid! What were we thinking!?

A tree ‘umbrella’

We found quite a few stiles (those wooden structures that are built to provide people passage over the fences) and fortunately quite easy to navigate.

Our first stile (easy access over the fence)

On the trail we past a handful of dams, which is typical to find on a farm. But it was surprising to see that most of these dams were covered with water lilies (or at least the leaves of these lovely flowers).

Dam with water lily leaves
Even a seemingly dead tree with interesting branches crossed our path

We soon realised we made a second mistake on this hike – remember, the first one was that we did not bring our hats along – and now we saw the trail is NOT flat (although it looked like that on the map when I studied it 😄).

Those hills mean a lot of ups and downs

Soon, we reached another dam. And our luck was in, because this time we could actually see a few water lilies.

Berto walked closer to the dam to take photos of the water lilies, while I found welcome shade under a tree. When I looked down, I saw the most beautiful wild iris.

The road continued to wind up and we stopped a couple of times to look at all the different trees (that are unfamiliar to us).

In the valley the route splits – we kept on blue arrow path

We then reached a small river (or maybe a stream), which we crossed and then the pathway turned to the right. This leaded to another dam … and a HUGE uphill.

Halfway up the hill, we could look down into the valley
We could see from where we started earlier down in the valley
Surrounded by green covered hills

After we rested a bit on top of the hill, we walked on (there was not much shade). As we walked past the highest point, there was a warning – presumably for cyclists and trail runners coming from the top. No wonder we were so out of breath!

It would be frightening to go down this hill with a bicycle
We were now getting a bit tired
These are so pretty, but we have no idea what they’re called

When we finally reached the top, we were so tired and hot! There was a long stretch in front of us (without any shade) and we just collapsed at the closest little spot of shade.

A little bit of shade and time to rest

We drank almost all our water (another mistake that we only took 500ml of water each) … one would really think this is our first hike ever! Luckily I remembered the energy sweets in our backpack and we quickly grabbed a handful of these … which seemed to do its magic and we could continue.

We reached a frame at the top of the long grassy stretch, which I reckoned was a good photo opportunity (with the lovely Indian Ocean in the background).

It was still another 3km back to the starting point, so we had to pushed on. But you know how it is, the last few kilometres always feel like an eternity!

“Caution ahead” … a steep descent
Another long stretch without any shade

With approximately 1km to go, we reached a bridge that we had to cross … and then a very welcoming sign!

A last bridge to cross
Escape Route to the Brewery – YES please
Almost there
Finish … yeah!

And ironically, when we reached the Brewery, we did not order a beer! No, we ordered a glass of ice-cold orange juice – the best orange juice we ever tasted!

Nice!

Will we do this hike again? Of course, it’s a beautiful trail! But maybe we should have started with the (much shorter) option since we were not really hiking fit! And next time, our hats are packed in first … and more water!

54 thoughts on “HIKING – Emerald Vale Brewery Farm

    1. Haha Carl, I got tired all over again by writing it 😉. I actually forgot to say, we didn’t just had one orange juice, but two! But what a lovely place – nothing what we’re used to on the West Coast. Thanks for reading, hope you and Dian are doing well.

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    1. Definitely an (unexpected) adventure! And thank you, the scenery is indeed beautiful – the green hills and trees are so much different than what we’re used to and we would love to explore the other trails as well (when we’re more hiking fit of course 😉).

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      1. Still raining there? Where is spring/summer? We are now staying in a summer rainfall area and already experienced a few days of continued rain, but it’s hot and humid … we definitely have not yet acclimatise 😉. Good luck over there … hoping for sunny days soon!

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    1. Tricia, that’s so true! On our way back home, burnt by the sun and dead tired, we agreed it was a great feeling to finish this trail! What a lovely place … we will definitely be going back there (but hopefully more prepared 😊).

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  1. Na al die swoeg en sweet het julle teruggekom met pragtige fotos en lekker herinneringe (om nie te praat van rooigebrande gesigte nie!). Ek kan my indink dat julle weer hier sal gaan stap, dit is pragtig en lyk baie veilig.

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    1. Ja, natuurlik het ons ook nie sonbrand room aan ons gesigte gesmeer nie … goeiste, ons was soos groentjies op ons eerste staptog! Dis so mooi Dries, die heuwels en baie bome – ons ken dit mos nie. En ja, die feit dat dit (relatief) veilig is, is ‘n groot bonus!

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  2. Ek bewonder julle twee se uithouvermoë, Corna. Ek is nie ñ regte stapper nie, geniet dit net as dit langs die see is. Julle sien soveel meer van die wêreld op jul manier.🤗

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    1. Ah, baie dankie Una. Ek dink ons is partykeer te hard op onsself … wanneer ons ‘n ding begin, wil ons dit eenvoudig klaarmaak – kom buig of bars! Wel, in hierdie geval moes ons maar net aanhou stap, want hoe anders sou ons by die eindpunt kom 😄! Maar jy’s reg, ons sien plekke wat mens nie sommer andersins sou sien as jy nie bietjie uit jou gemaksone beweeg nie.

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    1. That’s the beauty of these hikes … you never know what to expect. And for some reason I did not expect to see ponds with water lilies, a lovely surprise! Yes, we would love to explore the other routes as well (but maybe starting with the really shorter ones next time 😄).

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  3. I laughed so much at that first sentence – I feel like that’s my husband on every single hike. This one looks beautiful ,especially the Indian Ocean views 🙂 Worth the effort of the hike for sure – have a great day Corna.

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    1. Haha 😁, then we should make sure that if ever (by some miracle) we ended together on a walk, your husband and I don’t walk together. We will probably stop at the first pub!! But yeah, definitely worth the effort, the views are incredible rewarding. Thanks Hannah, may you have a great day too 🌸.

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      1. Haha that made me laugh – we definitely need to manage a walk together at some point. We are actually torn between SA or Bolivia for our 2023 October anniversary break so if it’s SA then I’ll let you know the dates and hopefully we can see you 🙂

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      2. Oh … that sounds great! Bolivia is a tough ‘competitor’ against my country (especially, after reading Monkey’s Tale’s latest blog posts 😉). But, if your choice is SA, we will definitely make a plan to see you guys – a hike combined with a nice glass of wine!

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  4. Wow! I was getting tired just reading about your adventure. I know the feeling when you are hot and exhausted and suddenly that orange juice is the best thing ever! Quite ambitious for a hike that was supposed to be intermediate. Did you see any other hikers? Isn’t it lovely to have wide open spaces to yourselves?

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    1. Yes Carolyn, we were probably a bit ambitious, hey? We did see two hikers (in the distance when we were up on one of the hills), but only once. Our only companions were the cows and birds … and that’s how we like it!

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  5. Even experts get things a little wrong sometimes! But you pushed on and were rewarded with some lovely views as well as those pretty waterlilies and the iris 🙂 I still find it odd that what we call a pond/pool/lake you call a dam – I keep looking for the wall holding the water back 😆

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    1. True – I don’t know where our thoughts were when we went on this hike. We’re using the excuse that we were so excited to get back into nature, that we lost sight of all important hiking notes 😊. Ha, I was wondering about whether I should use the word ‘dam’ or ‘pond’ when wrote the post (remembered your question about it in an earlier post) … and thought, it can probably be called a pond. But, when I visited friends on their farm in my high school years (and Berto’s grandparents also lived on a farm), we would always say “let’s go for a swim in the dam”, never in the pond. So, it’s still a dam 😅.

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  6. Ah we’ve all made those errors some time, there’s always an occasion when somehow all of our experience and knowhow deserts us and by the time we realise our error we’re too far in. But wow…orange juice over beer, that’s horror story territory!!

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    1. Thanks for the reassurance … for a moment there I thought we were getting too old for hiking 😁. Yeah, the orange juice (goodness, maybe we are getting too old for these adventures)! It’s just that we were not sure whether it was a good idea to throw beer into our throats after we only had a handful of energy sweets the last few hours! Like I said, we will come better prepared next time …

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  7. An enjoyable walk with you Corna and the wild iris and water lilies look s beautiful. We have lots of wooden stiles here in the Yorkshire Dales over fences and dry stone walks so we are well used to them. Glad you found some shade here and there and I bet that glass of orange juice at the brewery went down a treat ! Have a great weekend. Marion

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    1. Thank you so much for joining us on this walk Marion! I agree, any flowers on a hiking trail are always so lovely to see. My brother told me there are so many wooden stiles in the UK … it’s not something we see often here. Though, we have not walked so much on farms (I suppose one will find them there). Ah, that glass of orange juice – definitely a life saver at that moment 😊. And a great weekend to you too 🌸.

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  8. I love how you consider the 12.5km trail to be one of the shorter ones! Coming unprepared is always the worst. I would have complained the whole time if I didn’t have my hat as it looks like there isn’t much protection from the sun. I couldn’t help but laugh at some of those cautionary signs. Oh dear. But you made it! I’m sure that cold glass of orange juice hit the spot.

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    1. I suppose 12.5km are falling in the “short category” when you’re hiking fit … or maybe we were just over enthusiastic ☺️. But lesson learned and we will definitely remember this day with our next hike (hats packed in first)! Absolutely … the orange juice was probably the best thing of the day!

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  9. That was quite the adventure Corna, you guys certainly had to work your socks off to get this one done. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourselves, all us travel veterans drop the ball sometimes in terms of preparation and judgement. As usual you were rewarded with some really appealing landscapes and gorgeous touches of nature along the way. Love the shots of you with the frame and the expanse of the ocean sweeping behind you. I can imagine that was one of the most refreshing orange juices you’ve ever had!

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    1. Thanks Leighton 😉. Yes, it can’t always be smooth sailing, can it? It’s on days like these that your mind and stamina are tested… and happy that at least that worked well! The views are breathtaking and we would love to go back to appreciate them with more enthusiasm than the first time! That orange juice… totally hit the spot 🍊🍊.

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  10. What a hike that turned out to be but well worth that view on top of the hill. It may have been steep hiking back down but at least it was easier than the hike up. I would have had OJ or water too! May I ask why they said watch where you hike as it is not safe?

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    1. I sometimes wonder about whether going down is easier than going up 😬 … just give me a flat walk! Unfortunately, crime (I’m referring to muggings now) is a reality – it does not happen often, but one should be vigilant. There are a lot of poor people living in this province and the suggestion is that if you want to go for a hike, it is advisable to explore in a group. Since this trail is on a farm (that is protected from ‘unwanted elements’), it’s fairly safe to walk there.

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  11. Thank you for sharing your hiking adventure Corna, 🌸💕 the water lilies and irises are beautiful and quite interesting trees too. I hope you did not suffer sunburn too much and looking forward to reading about your next adventure which I know will include your hats and enough water to drink too 😉

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    1. Thank you Henrietta for once again reading about our adventures here in the Eastern Cape. Fortunately, both of us are not really sensitive to sunlight (but of course, no one wants to get sunburn – or unnecessarily hot). Nope, next time the hats and enough water are the first items on the list … even if it’s raining cats and dogs 😄.

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    1. Definitely unexpected … I have no idea why we thought this would be flat (and choosing 12+km was a bit overconfident from us)! We should spent less time on the beaches and more time hiking – that’s the lesson we should learn here 😉.

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  12. Bravo for choosing 12.5 km. I would’ve chosen 4.8 km, haha. What’s an Honesty box? I understand the not being prepared on hikes!! We’ve done some with not enough water, too. Or the wrong shoes!! Love your photos of the flowers. The pink water lilies are beautiful. Ours are usually white. Love the photo of being in a tiny bit of shade. Sometimes tiny feels like a ton of shade when none is around.

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    1. I think the 4.8km would have been a wiser option. An honesty box is where you deposit the fee for the hiking trail (i.e. there are no-one collecting the fee, the hiker needs to be honest and deposit the fee themselves). We get both pink and white water lilies, but we haven’t seen these in a long time – isn’t flowers on a hiking trail always such a beautiful sight? Hopefully we’ll come more prepared next time 😉.

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      1. Oh, I see. I didn’t know there were trail fees. Love that they’re called that. Flowers are amazing to see. Bursts of color here and there are fun. Love that they bloom at different times of the year. Haha- maybe. I’ll definitely bring more water and different shoes. I wish I’d had different shoes at Rocky Falls. Mine were pretty slick. Here’s to shoes, hats, and water. Ha!!

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  13. Ahh… you are constantly out on new adventures and discoveries. I don’t understand how you manage to document everything, which you do in an excellent way, while the rest of us can just sit at home and still follow along. 😀
    I love all images as well your descriptions of both pros and cons and I know, there are usually too many photos to sort after such an excursion, which also takes time.
    I have to admit that I myself really long for some new exciting adventures, but for various reasons it won’t be much more than my outings with the doggies. No, I’m not complaining, I’m very happy here in my little sphere in Cyprus and and has many memories from various adventures around the world.
    Take care!

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    1. Thank you for your wonderful comments Anita – it’s much appreciated. Normally when I start putting a post together of one of our adventures, my husband and I will share what we can remember from the outing … and it’s quite amazing how we remember different things! And yes, to chose photos are always a headache – because we both take photos! But somehow, in the end, I manage to dot down our journeys.
      An outing with your doggies in beautiful Cyprus are a very good option I would say! And it’s wonderful that we can have memories of our travels – I’m so happy we have that too!

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  14. OMG, I hate to go on a new hike and find that I didn’t prepare well! The last time it happened to me, I learned about halfway through that there was ice on much of the sometimes steep trail, and I had no yaktrax on my shoes. (I was terrified I was going to fall, and sooooooo mad at myself!) I adore the way you & Berto handled this situation. And, as always, I love the images you shared. Hope your week has started beautifully! 🌞

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    1. We were NOT impressed with ourselves Lisa, that I can tell you! And reading about your experience, I just realised this can happen to any hiker. But believe me, we have learned from this! Thank you for taking the time to read about our (unexpected difficult) hike 🙂 … enjoy the rest of your week!

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