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A few years back we were on holiday in the Karoo and spent a few days in Die Hel prior to joining a cycle tour in Prince Albert. John had always heard stories of Die Leer and decided that we needed to go and explore. We duly booked into Oom Piet’s se Huisie at Boplaas (the farm at the end of the valley before Die Leer).

The owners were away but Pieter, the farm hand, was left in charge of the farm and their dog, Maggie. He proceeded to regale us with stories of the valley and the various Freedom riders who had passed through. He was especially impressed with Estelle, who (according to him) dismantled her bike and carried it up piece by piece. We were suitably awed by this feat.

Her owners being away, Maggie decided to adopt us and moved in for the duration of our stay.

Armed with Pieter’s directions we set off up the track in our 4 x 4, only to find Maggie running alongside the bakkie. We stopped and opened the door to send her back home but she promptly hopped in and made herself at home in the passenger foot well. She had made up her mind that she was not going to be left home alone.

When we got to the cottages at the end of the road she hopped out and immediately started showing us the way down the path to the stream and the poplar trees, and the best place to cross. She showed us the entrance to the path and guided us all the way to the top, stopping regularly to wait for us and to check that we were still following the right track. I think she was a bit frustrated with our slow progress clambering up over the rocks and big steps and all the tea breaks and photo stops. We finally made it, after lots of huffing and puffing and a few mutters about whose bright idea this was. We shared a picnic with her at the top before making our way back


I distinctly remember sitting there at the picnic table, enjoying the view down the valley while catching our breath. My comments to John went something along the lines of it’s really beautiful here, and we thoroughly enjoyed the drive up Swartberg Pass and into Die Hel and the hike, but there is no way in hell that I am riding here or carrying a bike up Die Leer.

Die Leer definitely counts as one of those “I am not entirely sure that a bicycle was meant to go here” kind of places that are liberally scattered along the trail.

Well, apparently, next week that is exactly where I hope to be going and what I will be doing.

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