Day 4 – How Wet are our Wetlands?

The day started with a Fish Eagle call and a fight through undergrowth in a wattle infested section of the river bank.P1220648

After which the pleasant surprise of quiet pasturesP1220652



Today was an endless succession of drainage ditches,


fence crossingsP1220662

and fighting our way through thick bush




We were extremely relieved to get through the bush and finally reach the river, and decided that negotiating wetlands and drainage ditches would be preferable, so after a rest


and a water sample,P1220703

we crossed the river at the only possible place. P1220705


We discovered a delightful oxbow lake – should be called a horse shoe lake!


and looking up we were thrilled to see Inhlosane – our guiding beacon all through the first week of the walk down the uMngeni River last year.P1220743

And then we hit the drainage ditches, and had to make a plan to cross the extremely soggy channels – throwing clumps of sod and grass as stepping stones worked.P1220729

Things degenerated to hedges of brambleP1220739

and enormous drainage ditches feeding water from the wetlands to the riverP1220764



We eventually found a section of river with a small cascade suitable for mini sass – the first in many miles, and the highest score so far – a miserable 6.2 indicating only fair condition – and this is some of the healthiest river we have seen since near the source. Prev took the chance to have a quick swim thereafter.


We walked along an old dyke along the river,P1220799

always leaving gates as we found themP1220816

and then realised that somewhere behind the dyke was the original Lions River – decades ago a massive channel was dug and the river re-routed to now flow across what were once a long time ago extensive wetlands. The channel is about 30 metres deep, infested with wattles.P1220818

A road or train would fit down there.


This river has been almost exterminated! From here we could see that we were on a small plateau, bordered by a hill of dolerite boulders. Pretty Merwilla plumbea (Scilla natalensis) lifted our spirits after all the destruction we had been witnessing.


and then our spirits then plunged when we hit chaotic, nearly impenetrable wattle growth along the river


which would be so beautiful – the wattle was so thick we couldn’t get much of a view of the river as it tumbled down cascades and riffles


We finally emerged on a grassy hillside


and entered and area of grazed veld grass and few invasivesP1220888

with a stunning indigenous forest on the hills beyond


Our 14th fence crossing was unusual – a double fence


and we finally left the river


to head up to a delightful cottage on the farm of Mike and Charmaine Blythe which they have very generously offered to us.


We are so grateful for this – thank you so much. Roll on that hot bath…..


About Nikki Brighton

I live in Howick, between the river and the hills. I enjoy pre-dawn walks in the streets with my dog, sitting on the veranda with crochet and tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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One Response to Day 4 – How Wet are our Wetlands?

  1. shew, sounding like a sad state of the river…

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