Last weekend I spent a lovely three days in the Natal Midlands to attend a friend’s wedding at the beautiful Haycroft Farm – once more congrats, Corli & Ivan!
The Midlands Meander is a magical place. Home to lush green hills and farmlands, misty mountains, enchanted forests and old English country hospitality. I felt completely transported to another country. Somewhere in between Ireland, Scotland and Britain. Once you visit this treasure of a place I promise you will be back for more. So that’s why I decided to make this week’s FIVE THINGS post a Midlands themed one and share a short itinerary (which can easily be completed in 2 days) of my 5 favourite things to do here.
1. SWISSLAND CHEESE
Our first stop was up the hill at Swissland Cheese in Balgowan. The road up can be quite rugged and is not recommended for low cars, especially in rainy weather. (Even though we drove up in a very low Ford Fiesta in the middle of a thunderstorm and survived!). Swissland Cheese is a dairy farm where you can have a picnic on their lush green lawns overlooking goats and cows peacefully grazing in the distance while the mist rolls in over the hills. They even have a quaint indoor picnic area with magnificent views for when the weather’s bad. There is a little farmstall selling crackers, cheeses, olives, dips, wine, ice cream and everything else you need for the perfect picnic. They also provide you with a blanket, basket and utensils. This is exactly what you need to get that “countryside” feel.
Address: Old Main Road R103, Balgowan
2. CHOCOLATE HEAVEN
A cosy little store where you can try handmade Belgian chocolates and if you didn’t stuff your face with cheese and crackers like we did just before, the chocolate dipping fondue is a MUST! You literally get your own chocolate fondue and then choose a platter of sides to dip in. The rule is to make as much of a mess as you can. We chose a selection of choccies as dessert after our picnic. I heard that their strawberries dipped in chocolate are the best and after trying it for myself, I can assure you it’s not just a rumor. I’m craving them again while typing his!
Address: The Junction Complex, Nottingham Road
3. NOTTINGHAM ROAD BREWING COMPANY
For sundowners we decided to give this rustic craft brewery a quick visit. Located on the same grounds as the elegant Rawdon’s Hotel, the Notties craft beers had the best names including : Tiddly Toad Lager, Pickled Pig Porter, Whistling Weasel Pale Ale, Tipsy Tiger India Pale Ale, Pye-Eyed Possum Pilsener, Wobbling Wombat Summer Ale and Cappuccino Porter. There’s also a gift shop selling Notties merchandise and the Rawdon’s on site pub has an awesome atmosphere and menu for lunches and dinners.
Address: R103, Rawdons estate, Nottingham Road
4. TERBODORE COFFEE & NELSON MANDELA CAPTURE SITE
The next day we drove up Curry’s Post Road to Terbodore Coffee Roasters – a gem of a coffee shop where they roast their own coffee using the finest Arabica beans. Set in an old barn with a beautiful garden for warm summer days as well, they offer a superb selection of coffee, great atmosphere and interior, AMAZING breakfast and a group of friendly Great Dane dogs lazing around on the property. Hence the cute bone shaped cookies that come with the coffee – I bought a whole pack to take home. We had the Spicy Bean & Vegetable Ratatouille for breakfast and a Potato Rosti topped with crispy bacon, boerewors, tomato, feta, 2 eggs and a creamy Hollandaise type sauce on the side. The portions are really filling and very flavourful. I am quite a food snob when it comes to bland tasting meals, but this was truly one of the most satisfying dishes I’ve had in a while. Unfortunately, I got so carried away by all the delicious flavours that I completely forgot to take a picture of the food!
Address: 87 Currys Post Rd, Howick
After breakfast we went to see the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The place where the Apartheid police, after 17 months of trying, were finally able to capture and arrest him. The monument in honour of Mr. Nelson Mandela was created by Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose and comprises 50 steel columns that are between six and 9.5 metres in height and have been cut by laser to form an image of the former president when viewed at the correct angle. This monument is situated at the end of a winding path, which represents ‘the long walk to freedom’.
Address: Mandela Capture Site, R103, Howick, 3290
5. BIERFASSL GIN TASTING AND HOWICK FALLS
Only about a 5 minute drive from where we stayed, the Howick Falls is truly something to see. I was really surprised that it was even more impressive than most of the waterfalls I got to see while overseas. Go South Africa!
Address: Howick, KwaZulu-Natal
The Bierfassl is an Austrian restaurant and pub in Nottingham Road that specializes in hearty Austrian cuisine and over 35 beers from around the world. The Crispy Eisbein is a must try! We decided to give the beer a skip and try some gin instead. We got to choose 3 gins from their selection with 2 tonics. You get to make up your own mix by adding the cucumber, pomegranate, grapefruit, granadilla or lemon given in little bowls on the side. My favourite was the Musgrave Pink Rosewater gin 🙂
Address : Rawdons Estate R103, Nottingham Road, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands