Latest News! 12th October, 2017

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Frozen in time Frozen in time - Photo: BattlefieldsRegionGuides

Today we head off to KZN to drive a well known pass on a major route on the N11 between Volksrust and Newcastle. What makes this pass so interesting is the remarkable history attached to it coupled with beautiful Drakensberg scenery, but be warned that this is a very busy road, plied by large trucks and other commercial traffic.

Lang’s Nek was named after William Timothy Lang, who bought a farm located to the north and east of Mount Majuba in Northern Natal in 1874. This is extremely well documented and cannot be disputed, but for the last 130 years, the pass itself, the road, the railway and the battlefield have all been erroneously spelled as “Laing’s Nek”. How this occurred is a mystery – perhaps a battlefield reporter or a cartographer made a careless mistake, and this has somehow been brought forward in perpetuity. Early maps of the region all have the correct spelling. Read more.....

Social media gone mad

Social media and more specifically Face Book is an interesting (and sometimes baffling) platform. We are close to 15,000 followers and the algorithms that make this hugely popular, world wide platform so difficult and sometimes dangerous, are often complex in how they work and disperse information to selected audiences. Our Face Book post last week, which featured the Witkop Pass and the now famous photo of FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela, focussed on an interesting bit of modern history regarding FW de Klerk's 1989 'bosberaad' with the ANC leadership. It attracted an unpleasant, violent and racist set of comments from both sides of the fence, which forced us to delete the post three days before it's expiry date and ban a number of people from the page for repeat offences. Those commenting were not our regulars, which begs the question to be asked as how does Face Book find viewers based on a specific photograph? We found this reaction to be both sad and disappointing and we realize just how politicised some of the population still are. South Africa (in terms of nation building) obviously still has a very long way to go! One thing is for certain, we will never again go anywhere near that subject. One bitten, twice shy! Having said that, our passes are the threads that connect our history - whether it be the Anglo Boer War or something more modern. These are the roads that built a nation and history is something we simply cannot ignore.

Garden Route

This week we are filming in the Garden Route and our routing allowed us to review the Knysna fire damage, four months after the fact. There are vast tracts of plantations that have been burned, but forestry workers have already begun felling the burnt trees. Logging trucks are carting thousands of loads of timber away for processing and after some good rains, the area is quickly turning green again. We will have a short video available next week, showing the scale of the damage.

Descending from the Gouna Pass via Simola, the homes on either side of the road have been completely destroyed in many instances. Here and there families have pulled an old caravan onto their properties and some have started rebuilding. Knysna will take a very long time to fully recover from this disaster.

In 1876 the so-called 'Great Fire' swept aloing the Garden Route from Humansdorp in the east to Riversdale in the west. It was this Great Fire which made Thomas Bain's job of clearing a path through the thick forests, somewhat easier. Every dark cloud......

Lang's Nek

Besides the amazing history set in the very heart of KZN's Battlefields Route, there are magificent views of Majuba Mountain and for those with some spare time and energy, one can drive around the northern side of Majuba via the Majuba Nek Pass and take a hike or a horse trail up to the summit, where there are a range of graves and memorials to the many soldiers who died on the famous mountain top.

We unpack the military facts of how General Colley inadvertantly created one of the biggest military defeats England has ever experienced and how he paid the ultimate price by losing his life there. For those interested in history, you will enjoy the full story on Colley and the three battles near Lang's Nek which the Boer forces won convincingly. It was this and similar defeats which ultimately led to England abandoning their red tunics, (which made perfect targets for the Boer marksmen) for the more traditional khaki unforms. 

Take a cyber drive with us as we head south from Volksrust and drive the sweeping curves of Lang's Nek Pass.

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Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the day: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Mountain Passes South Africa

Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
 

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
 

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