The Gamtoos Valley with it’s citrus farms, beautiful scenery and interesting little corners is one of our favorite day excursions to just get out of the city for a bit. The advantage is that it is nice and close to Port Elizabeth, so you are in the valley after like only a 40 minute drive. We try to see and do something different every time we go which is probably two or three times a year. Our latest outing produced the following:
The first stop was at the Loerie dam. It was built as a holding dam as part of the Kouga Dam scheme with the purpose of supplying Port Elizabeth with water. The dam includes a filtration and pump system to balance the pressure in the pipelines, and it was originally controlled by one of the first computer systems in South Africa. It’s not a very big dam but its still a great stop to break out the coffee flask and enjoy the view with a coffee in hand.
Second on the itinerary was in the town of Hankey for a visit to the old railway station to find a Geocache on the remains of an old steam train. Hankey was established in 1826 by the London Missionary Society to grow mielies and corn for the LMS main station at Bethelsdorp and also to carry out evangelistic work. It is the Gamtoos Valley’s oldest town and was named after the Rev. William Alers Hankey who was the secretary of the London Missionary Society. The railway line isn’t in use anymore and it was really sad to see the remains of this once magnificent machine standing there with a tree growing through it. And in case you wondered, I couldn’t find this specific cache.
We bypassed a few historic and scenic spots we have visited before and went as far as Andrieskraal just before the turnoff to the Kouga Dam. Miggie was after a pic or two for Instagram and the two rows of trees on the side of the road was perfect for that.
Turning back towards Patensie we stopped to have a look at the Queen Victoria Profile visible in the Enon Conglomerate.
What is Enon Conglomerate? About 140 million years ago the Cape Mountains were roughly three times higher than today. A period of high rainfall then eroded them and the Enon Conglomerate, of which much of the Gamtoos valley is composed of this, was the result. A conglomerate is a rock consisting of individual clasts within a finer-grained matrix that have become cemented together. The geological strata of this area known as the Enon Formation is the result of boulders, pebbles, sand and clay which were deposited in an early basin of the Gamtoos. The material was subsequently cemented together to form conglomerate. The Enon Formation was deposited in the form of alluvial fans by rivers draining the Cape Fold mountains. In places the Enon conglomerate is quarried to produce crushed aggregate.
On our way back towards Patensie we stopped at the Boer-e-Nooi factory shop. They make the most stunning hand made leather shoes as well as a few other products. I had my hands full with the Damselfly and Miggie as they were oohing and aahing at one pair of shoes after another. I can see a future visit here costing me money.
For our lunch stop of the day we decided on Tolbos Country Shop in Patensie. Back in the days when I was a tourist guide this was the coffee and milktart morning stop on the Gamtoos Valley Tour.
Today we were here for lunch and being a nice warm winters day, we chilled outside under the trees in their courtyard tucking into a very welcome lunch after a morning of exploring and discovering. The Gamtoos Valley never disappoints.