The Beauty of the Cederberg Mountains and Stories of Past Struggles

  • Reptiles and frogs that can only be found in South Africa, for example the Armadillo Lizard and the Black Spitting Cobra…
  • One thousand eight hundred different species of fynbos and succulents…
  • Many endangered species of tree including the Clanwilliam ceder…
  • Eight endemic fish species that exist only in the Olifants river system…
  • The Leopard and the Grey Rhebok (Vaalribbok)…  

All of these are some of the wonders that can be found in the magnificent beauty of the Cederberg mountain range. Lying on the West Coast of the Western Cape province the Cederburg is a place sought after by campers, hikers, mountain bikers. And all because the terrain is so fantastic.

We were fortunate to spend the Easter long weekend camping in the Cederberg. The photos below give you an idea of the beauty we saw.

We also took a drive into Clanwilliam. This town is rich in history.

Ten years after the arrival of the Settlers in Africa (1652), the first visitors arrived in Clanwilliam, but it was not until 1725 that people settled here permanently. The town was first known as Jan Disselsvalleij but was changed to Clanwilliam in 1814 by Sir John Cradock who named the town after his father-in-law, the Earl of Clanwilliam. Clanwilliam is one of the oldest towns in South Africa.

We always make certain to have time for tea and scones at Nancy’s Tearoom. This is not to be overlooked as an attraction. I can personally recommend their Double Thick Chocolate milkshake. The walls are adorned with cross-stitch needlework apparently all created by Nancy.

Here is the link to their website.

Military history

There is also a military history in this area. Just a few kilometers out of Clanwilliam over the Pakhuys pass there is a dirt road that leads to the small settlement of Wuppertal. At this turn-off onto the dirt road, there is a sign-posted grave. The sign-post reads “The Englishman’s Grave”.

The grave lies to one side of a tree that provides a branch in protection from the elements.

The headstone is in the form of a Celtic cross and bears the words “BRAVE AND TRUE.”  At the base of the cross is inscribed:

In sacred and loving memory of Graham Vinicombe Winchester Clowes Lieutenant 1st Battn. the Gordon Highlanders… killed in action near this spot on 30th January 1901.

text below extracted from:

Lt. Clowes… “was killed in a skirmish with Boer commandos January 30, 1901 and buried here. He and his men had arrived in South Africa in just enough time to join in the Battle of Magersfontein. It had been thought that the Boers were encamped on the massive Magersfontein koppie. Three miles away, the Highlanders camped and waited for the early morning light to attack.

Advancing on the point having just marched through a pounding thunderstorm, the men’s advance was interrupted by a terrific sound, described by one as the sound of a dam bursting: the crack of thousands of Boer rifles. The commando was not encamped on the prominence, but in a camouflaged trench a hundred feet in front of it. The British suffered over 900 casualties that day, to just 200 Boer dead, and the British advance stopped dead in its tracks.

Lt. Clowes survived the horrors of Magersfontein but was then killed a year later in the small-scale actions in which the Boer commandos were particularly skilled. Devastated by the death, his mother travelled from Hertfordshire to have the gravestone constructed and placed. For many years after Lt. Clowes’s death, his mother would make the five weeks’ journey by sea to the Cape to make the pilgrimage to her son’s grave on the anniversary of his death in the searing heat of the January sun.”

Another interesting source of information:——-10–1—-2–

Reading through this archived newspaper gives one some idea of what those dark days must have been like for both the English and the Boers.

The last two photographs are of another grave site. But this time, instead of a soldier, it is one of the South Africa’s most well known son’s – C. Louis Leipoldt.  Born in Worcester, he started out as a reporter. later he studied medicine and became the personal physician of the American newspaper boss, Joseph Pulitzer. It is because of his intense love of this beautiful, mountainous and wild district that he was buried here near Clanwilliam.

Apart from poetry, Louis Leipoldt wrote novels, plays, stories, children’s books, cookbooks and a travel diary. He is numbered amongst the greatest of the Afrikaner poets and he was described by D. J. Opperman, himself a noted South African poet, as “our versatile artist”. This grave is remarkable in that it is situated at the base of a cave-like opening on the mountain face. Directly above his tombstone faint bushman drawings can be seen that were drawn many years before his death.

This area is a definite must for anyone interested in both nature and history. There is lots to see, and many interesting people to meet. This visit to Clanwilliam and the Cederberg was not my first – and it shall not be my last!

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