BARRYDALE TRAIL : HOW IT CAME ABOUT In 2002/03 my old friend, the late Chris Shaw asked me to join him in finding a suitable route to establish a Cycle Trail near Barrydale. Chris was the tourism representative on the Barrydale Ratepayers Association Committee. We did a lot of walking surveying the surrounding areas of Barrydale. Due to the nature of the terrain it would have been very expensive to make a pathway smooth enough, even for mountain bikes. Chris became ill with cancer. I told him that instead if the cycle trail, I would have a hiking trail made that would link Barrydale with the Bosmanbos Wilderness. It was sort of dedicated to him. So, I started surveying during 2003, with a hiking friend, Richard Voigt. We established the general route to Bosmansbos where we would link with the Wilderness trail. I started, alone, to cut a path. After a few outings and about 400 meters along members of the Barrydale Hiking Club, Brian East, Don Kelly and Richard Voigt joined me. By the end of the 2003 hiking season we had a couple of kilometres of trail. Later Dick Usher and Keith Tourien joined us as volunteers, and then Peter Nevett as well. FUNDING It became obvious that six old men, on their own, would not be able to cut another 8 kilometres of trail in increasingly difficult terrain. A fundraising event was held to raise some money to employ some younger people to help out. The Cape Town Welsh choir came to Barrydale. About R2000 for a lot of hard work was raised. So, for the year 2004, Don Kelly and I approached the Swellendam Municipality for funds. Don Kelly used the skills he learned as a Catholic priest to get a donation of R10 000 to employ labour to get us going again. We reached the top waterfall. The municipality provided another R10 000 for 2005. At this stage and to the end volunteers Don Kelly, Peter Nevett and Peter Naryshkine supervised construction. Peter Naryshkine was responsible for surveying and marking out the trail using small flags for the workers to follow using the Surveyor General 1:50 000 maps and a GPS and, of course plenty of walking and climbing. Don Kelly was responsible for provisioning and cooking for the workers and payment of wages through the local municipal offices. Camp sites for the second and third stages were established at Rusklip and The Camp Site near the stream below Vaalkop. Rusklip was a point used many, many decades ago by shepherds who took sheep up the mountain for better grazing in the summer. At the end of 2005 funds ran out and we were about one kilometre short of reaching the wilderness trail. Grootvadersbosch administrators came to our rescue by providing the services of the firefighting team and they cut the final bit of the trail.

Kelly’s Kitchen:Top Camp. Don Kelly having breakfast after the workers have eaten. Barrydale in the background.

A  donation of R1000 was made. The donor, a Barrydaler, asked to remain anonymous. The Barrydale Garden Club donated about R1000.

The volunteers made contributions in kind, estimated to be R7 000 over the three year period which consisted of materials, tools and private travel.

Left to right – Peter Naryshkine: Pierre van den Berg (Cape Nature) : Brian East : Keith Tourien : Tracy Petersen (Grootvadersbosch, Senior Ranger)
Don Kelly : Dick Usher (squatting) : Peter Nevett : Richard Voigt.
Pierre van den Berg, Cape Nature, Grootvadersbosch

Pierre vd Berg Cape Nature                               Don Kelly presenting Net vir Pret with                                                                          camping equipment.

Peter Naryshkine and Don Kelly had numerous meetings with Cape Nature officials at Grootvadersbosch.  Ranger, Pierre van den Berg, was especially supportive and we developed a wonderful relationship with him. The Barrydalers did volunteer work, eliminating alien invaders in Bosmansbos and manning the office over weekends, and Pierre provided technical support by making skilled visiting USA volunteers available to give trail construction advice.

Don Kelly liaised with the owners of the freehold land through which the trail traverses. This land is “communally” owned by farmers and the municipality. It is, by law, designated water catchment area, and no development whatsoever can take place there.  We needed “no objection” from the owners. This was achieved.

There was, initially, some concern that we would not be able to link our trail with that of the wilderness. Cape Nature informed us that our trail could not cross the boundary of the wilderness. Wilderness status affords the highest  level of protection. Higher than the Kruger National Park. We fortunately realised that the wilderness trail went outside it’s boundary on the crest of the Langeberg Range. We joined it there.

The Bosmansbos Wilderness has subsequently been declared a World Heritage Site along with six other areas in the Cape Floral Province, including Table Mountain.

It is felt that it is necessary to have the catchment area declared “Conservancy” in terms of the conservation legislation. It will form a buffer for the Bosmansbos Wilderness. It will also provide some teeth to police  for the protection of the fauna and flora in the area. Some hunting with dogs does take place. It is suspected that some plants are being removed. There are some very special plant species. There are a surprising number of  mammal species, amphibians and snakes and lizards. Perhaps some undiscovered species!

It must be mentioned that Dick Usher, an ex -newspaper journalist got various publications to feature articles on our trail. Amongst these were Country Life and Getaway magazines.

Heritage Day at Grootvadersbosch : Yellowwood Tree planted by Peter Naryshkine and Richard Voigt.
Left to Right – Dick Pointer, Paula Pointer (Barrydale Hiking Club), Pierre van den Berg (Ranger, Grootvadersbosch), Tracy Petersen (Senior Ranger, Grootvadersbosch), Peter Naryshkine and Richard Voigt.


Don Kelly with a group of Barrydale schoolchildren off on a camping trip on the trail.

A group of Cape Town ex-street/abandoned children from Ons Plek childrens home with Monica Wood guided by Peter Naryshkine
There was inadequate maintenance of the trail until 2014 and 2015 when Peter Naryshkine and Robert Squires did good work to open up a very overgrown trail to within about a kilometre of the link with the Wilderness trail. Maintenance commenced again in 2017.Due to a medical condition, Robert is no longer able to hike. More volunteers are needed to do this work to keep this extremely important Barrydale resource  for tourism alive. It will degrade and disappear if not maintained. Peter Naryshkine is the last man standing of those involved in the construction of this trail. He is reaching the stage where he will no longer be able to maintain the trail. More people are needed to take over as custodians. If not, it’s gone.

There are patches of Hakea at a number of points along the trail which must be removed. There was evidence, before the last fire, at one spot, that some Hakea was being killed off by a fungus that occurs naturally in fynbos but one cannot rely on this to control the invader.

The purpose of these notes is to provide the true story behind the Barrydale Trail and how so many people in the community were involved in its making. More importantly put out a plea for someone to take over the maintenance and care of the trail. I hope this story does not come across as egocentric. It is irritating to hear invented stories and sometimes complaints by residents about the poor condition of the trail or what should and should not be permitted on its use when they have not lifted one finger to have it maintained. That, I suppose, comes with the territory when one is a volunteer.
To be able to get out into the peace and tranquillity of nature is necessary for our general well-being;  both spiritual and physical. It is food for the soul. We are privileged to have this space on our doorstep.

Kennedysnek. Top of Langeberg looking south-east across Bosmansbos

Kennedysnek, looking south towards Witsand on the coast         

Five of the old men putting up signage at the top waterfall. Left to Right – Keith Tourien, Don Kelly, Richard Voigt, Brian East and Peter Naryshkine

There are two small sculptures of Hiking Dwarfs, about half a metre high, donated by Nigel Hewitt, placed along the trail by Robert Squires and Peter Naryshkine. The first is at the Top Waterfall and the second at the Top Camp Site.

Established during the late nineteen- eighties or early nineties by the late Ben Moodie . The Moodies were early settlers who have farmed in the area between Suurbrak and Grootvadersbosch for generations along with the Barry Family. Ben lived in Barrydale during his retirement years. He represented South Africa as a track walker. The Ben Moodie trail begins on the northern side of the Huis River opposite the Municipal Farmhouse. The trail passed across the river at the Waterfall and came out at the water purification plant. It has mostly disappeared but could still be salvaged.

Established by the late Bertus Cooke and, as far as I know, constructed by schoolchildren from the Barrydale Secondary School supervised by Bertus. This trail begins at the top of Laing Street climbs to the top of the ridge, goes along the ridge and ends at The Mud. It is now cut off by a game fence recently erected, but one can still walk along the fence for a far shorter walk. I have been told that it was a tradition for students who had completed their Matric Year to gather at the end of the year for one last time and walk this trail together. This is no longer done.
The police station commander during the nineties, Mokie Roux, put up a cross with lights on the hill on the northern side of town, where there is a radio mast which I presume was for police communications. People would talk of walking to the cross or mast. There is a fine old bench just above The Mud Business Centre, on this trail, which would have been put there by Bertus Cooke.

This trail joined the Bertus Cooke trail and would have been constructed by Bertus. It is no longer open to the public and almost certainly completely overgrown.

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