Back to the Beginning

Penny visits uMngeni Vlei

The ice cold breeze brings the feel of the snow from the top of the not too distant Giant’s Castle buttress as I sit on a large ironstone boulder, perched in turn upon a dolertite boulder, my face to the sun.

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As the breeze slacks off, the silence enshrouds me. It has been a long time since I sat so, alone with my thoughts and miles of open space – the open space of uMngeni Vlei stretching away ahead of me.

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The sound of silence, broken occasionally as a small eddy of wind rustles the reeds and wetland grasses that form a quilt of brown hues across the vlei;

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the sound of silence, accompanied by the graceful flight of a Martial Eagle soaring overhead, coming closer and closer. Is this the same Eagle we saw last May from the high point I see rising out of the far side of the vlei? On the day we began our walk down the uMngeni River?

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The vlei’s vastness is awe inspiring – it looks like a massive volcano crater or impact site of some ancient meteorite, the hills encircling the wetland are clad in grasslands dotted with outcrops of dolerite boulders; some indigenous forests blanket the eastern slopes.

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And in the middle, the plants are deceptive, hiding miles of mushy wetland, with a few areas of open water dotted around – and we spy, far away, a pair of wattled cranes, whilst overhead vultures soar.

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It is humbling and powerful sitting at this beautiful source of our river, being able to say hello to our grand lady once more from the actual wetland floor this time, instead of from a hill above, and so many memories of our walk come tumbling to my mind as I perch on that rock.

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And once more, I am so grateful not only for our river, and for opportunity to do the walk, but also for all those who assisted us along the way. I hope you enjoy this selection of Nikki’s beautiful photos from yesterday.r penny umngeni vlei 008

Just in case you are wondering, the river walkers may have been quiet, but have not been not idle and they will soon be at it again…… preparations are underway for the Mayday 2013 source to sea river walk. Final Landowner phone calls are being made, and once that is done, we will let you all know where and when the next walk will be – and who will be on the team this year.

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About Nikki Brighton

I live in a Magic Cottage near the mist-belt forest with my African dog, Dizzy. We enjoy long walks in the fields to gather wild greens, sitting on the verandah with a pot of tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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