Last weekend we hiked from the Old Tolhuis up Montagu Pass and then back to the Tolhuis via the historic Cradock Pass. The river was not too high and we managed to come through with dry feet.
Marion Whitehead is author to a delightful book called Passes & Poorts: Getaway’s top 30 scenic mountain routes in the Western Cape
“This is one of the few places in the country where you can see very old and new passes side by side in a nature reserve. Cradock Pass is the oldest and is now a one-day hike marked with white-painted beacons visible from the modern Outeniqua Pass on the opposite mountainside.
Montagu Pass is the oldest unaltered pass still in use in South Africa and is a scenic trip back in time – you can almost hear the oxwagon drivers cracking their whips to warn oncoming traffic of their position on the winding pass. Near the top, the road runs parallel to the Railway Pass for a short while and it’s always a thrill if you’re lucky enough to encounter a train on the route.”
The old toll house(dating back to 1840’s) stands sad and neglected, the windows and doors secured with steel shutters, but a group, consisting of concerned George residents, historici and architects calling themselves Vriende van die Tolhuis tasked themselves with the restoration project under leadership of Gerda Stols.
The turn-off to the Cradock Pass was quite overgrown and I actually think it is safer to start by crossing the river below the Toll House as the starting point from that side is well marked.
It is also very popular with the mountain bikers and we had to keep Juno on a tight leash all the way to the start of the section on the railroad line that joins up with Cradock Pass. When you reach the top (3km further) you’ll find Herold Wines