From the motorcycle diaries of Willem de Wet
Three Treats3 Great mountain passes in one day, what more can one ask for? We sweep down the magnificent Barkley Pass (tar) towards Elliot and then around and up the Otto du Plessis Pass (gravel) to Barkley East. Now for the magnificent Bastervoetpad (gravel) to Mclear. This spectacularly scenic road links the top of Barkly Pass to Ugie and Mclear and combines technical driving with stunning views. The road is rough in places and sometimes impassable in wet weather. But today the weather was great and we had little hassle decending this magnificent track.
The pass is named after the Griquas who settled in the area for a while before deciding that the valleys around Maclear and Ugie were a more comfortable habitation. The rock formations in the area are of interests to geologists as there is evidence of glacial formation. The views at the top of the pass are breath-taking and reminiscent of Valley of a Thousand Hills.
During 1862 a group of Grieqwa’s, at the time of Adam Kok III's movement from Grieqwaland West to Grieqwaland East (known as New Grieqwaland), broke away and trekked over the Drakensberg to settle in the Ugie/Maclear area of the Eastern Cape. Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape Colony 1854/61had negotiated with Adam Kok and swapped land where the Grieqwa community lived in Kimberly with ground known as No-mansland (Niemandsland) in the area of the current town of Kokstad. In 1859 Kok personally led a group to see the land and decided it was suitable. In October 1861 the Grieqwa’s moved from Phillippolis in the then Orange River Colony. They moved through the Free State and Lesotho. This was difficult terrain with lots of problems and stock losses. As a result of a twist of fate a group in 1862 broke away at Hangklip. They went over the Orange River to the district of Barkly East and moved across the farm Valletta near the Lapa-Munnik Pass. The pass is now known as the Bastervoetpad.
We find rest and relaxation at Bob’s Place just outside of Mclear.
Naude's Neck Pass
From Maclear we decided to ride the Potrivier Pass to Elandshoogte and then the spectacular Naude’s Nek Pass (highest gravel mountain pass in South Africa). A rare biking experience!
"You'd need to be powerful, brave, sturdy -- or all three -- to attempt to make a road over the Drakensberg escarpment here". The Naude brothers took it in their stride, trusting their horses to pick out the best route, then got their men with picks, shovels and scotch carts to build this winding pass. The efforts of these pioneers are commemorated in a family graveyard beside a river at the western base of the route. The route was pioneered by two brothers, Stephanus David Naude and Gabriel Naude, in 1896. According to the plaque at the monument to them, erected by their descendents in 1967, these ‘twee stoere boere’ trailblazed the winding route on horseback. It was marked out and constructed using picks, spades and scotch carts, and completed in 1911. Stephanus Naude’s descendants live nearby on Dunley farm.
At the summit of the pass we veer towards Tennahead Hotel but then turn around and follow the pass down to Rhodes in search of a team member that missed the turn-off. We cruise down the pass for a relaxing saty in Rhodes.
Volunteershoek Pass to Tennahead via Tiffendell
After a lazy breakfast we depart from Rhodes towards Wartrail. The route to Wartrail is spectacular and we turn off to follow the steep Volunteershoek Pass towards Tiffendel. A rewarding and exciting ride to Tiffendell before we continue on the Lesotho border track to Tennahead and Naudesnek summit. ........ more to follow.