Walking Trails

EASTFORD WALKS

Of the many attractions to living on Eastford Estate, the beautiful natural areas that surround us have to feature amongst the top of the list. The combined Eastford estates form a large area to explore safely on foot, totally at peace with nature. You can walk for kilometres and enjoy vistas of mountains, the lagoon, the fynbos and bird life.

None of the loops are longer than four kilometres but they do require a moderate level of fitness, as some of the walks consist of what one young child referred to as “Oh My Word” hills. Your fitness is guaranteed to improve if you walk here regularly, as will your love of and enjoyment of nature.

The fynbos changes with the seasons. The Heather was stunning and lasted for months but is just about finished. The common bitou is now in full flower much to the enjoyment of the birds. There are lots of little yellow, white, pink and purple flowers (our resident expert, Clare, will have to give us a talk) and the Leucadendrons give another splash of yellow. There are lovely patches of iridescent green grasses.

The paths are all well maintained. You never wonder “am I still on a path”. Watch out after the rain as the descents can be a little slippery, particularly on the Eastford Country Estate side.

Below are descriptions of three loops which, once you start walking, you will realise can be adapted to how far you want to walk. To make it easier to understand, the pine tree in the park at the top of Fish Eagle has been used as the starting point.

TO THE DAM

Take the pylon access path past Clare’s house, “Sur En Ciel”. About 20 metres past the electric fence you will see a turn-off to your left marked “pool”. Follow this wide grassy path for several hundred metres and you will meet up again with the electric fence. Follow the fence for 5 metres and there is a clear path that goes off to your right. There is a lovely view of Greeff’s Farm from here.

Keep on and you will pass a garden to your right. There are a pack of 5-6 dogs that often rush out to the fence. Don’t be alarmed, they just bark and the owner often calls them from the house. At the end of this path there is a tall pine with an owl box. Cross the gravel road and the path continues to your left. After a few hundred metres the path forks, if you carry on straight you come out to the swimming pool, but take the left hand fork that takes you down into the valley.

The path winds down through a young woodland and down near the border with Knysna Lifestyle Estate. Take the grassy path at the bottom going to your right. (The next loop, “Four View Walks”, brings you to the same place.)

Note – the next sentence is not clear – as a reader I’m not sure what is meant by “You come back to the pylon access road” – is that after you take the grassy path at the bottom to your right, or after taking this climb up the hill?

You come back to the pylon access road; take this to climb up the hill to the left. Cross the estate road and continue on the other side. There is a sign saying “strictly no entry” but it is understood to refer to vehicles and horses. If you don’t want to enter here you can carry on down the road to your left until you are right opposite the dam.

At the bottom of the dip there is a very wide grassy strip to your left. The far end adjoins the border of the dam. The dam is quite big and full of purple water lilies, with a nice rustic bench to sit and relax on.

To return there are two options:

  1. As you are facing the dam go right. There is a small path called “a country path”. Go right in the direction of Eastford Downs. This will take you back to the pylon access road. Climb back up to the road and on to the other side. Instead of returning on the same path turn left not right. There is a path through woodland and several forks to the right, but take the one with the tile marked “pool”.

This path winds back up to the hill to the pool. Skirt around the pool to the right, the path seems as if it is going in the wrong direction but carry on and you will find yourself back on the path that comes to the tall pine and back the way you came.

  1. This alternative return route takes you on a longer route home. After you leave the dam take the country path to your right, cross the pylon access road and you will see that the path continues a little further on. Continuing with this path, when it forks go right to Eastford Country Estate. Continue up the steep incline to the top and you eventually come out at house 22 on Eastford Country Estate.

You can take the path down the valley, down the hill to the network of paths that take you up to the swimming pool again. I prefer once I am up to carry on along the road and take the right fork at the T junction. Follow the sign to House 13. You will see a fire hydrant box. To the right of the green portable toilet you will find a path going down off the hill. You get a wonderful view of the lagoon and the Heads from here.

Although the path is steep it is very well maintained with lots of wood chips and steps so is not at all slippery. At the bottom of the path there is a little pond. Cross the road and a little further down the hill there is a wide grassy path to your right. Take this path back to the pylon access path and you are back at the start. The walk is about 4 km but takes over an hour because of the steep hills.

FOUR VIEW WALKS

I have always enjoyed walking around Leisure Island. Every time you turn a corner you have a different view. This walk is the same except a few hills are involved!

Start again from the pine tree in the park. Take the pylon access path past the electric fence and this time take the path to your right marked “Pond”, which brings you out at the little pond. At the beginning of the road marked “1-5” you will see a wide path going off to your right. This is the contour path but does have some quite steep undulations.

The path forks – turn sharp left here to carry on along the contours. You get a great view of the Farm and the Simola Hill. Carry on and you will reach the main access road to Eastford Country Estate. You get a beautiful view of the mountains. There is a slight glimpse of the river if you look carefully. Turn left and walk along this road. There are two dogs here that roam free: one is a little dachshund that just barks, the other looks fierce but is actually quite friendly and comes out on the road but doesn’t come further than his property.

Carry on with the road until you can turn left, then take the second road marked “15-22” to your right. You will see a path on your left, just past a guinea fowl sign, that goes down into the valley through quite thick woodland. Take this path and turn left at the fork marked “pool”.

Climb up to the pool, a lovely spot to stop and have a breather as you take in the 360 degree view with the mountains behind and the lagoon in front. Then take the path around the bottom of the pool. It seems as if it is going in the wrong direction but then makes its way back to the tall pine with the owl box and the house with the dogs mentioned in the previous walk.

Continue on the path enjoying the view of Greeff’s Farm and the lagoon. When you get to the electric fence take the path to your left and make your way back to the pylon access path.

VALE AND COVE WALK

This is the least strenuous and shortest of the walks. Start at the pine tree but this time turn down to Heron. Just before the first house, a path goes down into the park on your left. There is a dam here but it is full of vegetation. A stone table and bench invite you to sit and breathe in the fresh air.

Carry on up over the hill to Lourie. Stroll down Lourie, as the road bends there is a 15 km speed sign and just past the fence, there are three options:

  1. take the path to your left which becomes quite a steep descent. At the bottom turn left and walk through young woodland past the steps, bringing you to the pylon access path.

Cross over this and you will see a very large flat rock. Make your way carefully over the rock and the path continues to emerge on Plover. Turn left and at the end of Plover you will see a path going up over the retaining wall that takes you on to Drongo. On the other side of the cul de sac the path takes you down on Fish Eagle. Here you can just head back or you can turn right.

Cross into Nightjar and go to the end of Buzzard. There is a path to the left. It takes you past a small dam. Just past this, there is a turnoff to the right over “The Rickety Bridge” to the gate in the electric fence. You need a key to get through the gate. Just beware that the fence is electrified. Take the left hand fork after the gate. Cross the Country Estate road and the path continues on the right, up a steep climb. Take the left hand fork to get back to the little pond at the junction of the roads. Cross the road, come down the hill a little and take the grassy path to your right to take you back to the pylon access path. Turn left and make your way back to the park.

  1. This option extends the loop: when you take the path at the turn in Lourie, instead of turning left, turn right. This used to be a dead end or take you into private gardens but if you carry on and continue to bear left there is a loop that takes you to the edge of the valley and then returns to the original path.

  1. The quicker option is from Lourie to go down to the end of Coucal, where you will see a sign to the left marked “Plover”. This takes you from Coucal down to Plover.