Veld & Vlei

Veld & Vlei at Greystones on the banks of Wagendrift Dam in the July holidays of 1972. ‘Leadership School’ – a physical and mental challenge, they say.

Memories of a busy week: The tough obstacle course – carry that 44-gal drum over the wall without letting it touch the wall! Other obstacles, including tight underground tunnels. And HURRY!

Chilly winter nights in these old canvas bell tents – we slept like logs:

Cross-country runs; PT by military instructors (what’s with this love for things military?); Brief immersion swims in the frigid water of the dam every morning; The lazy bliss of sailing an ‘Enterprise’ dinghy out of reach of anything strenuous!

Then the second week: Being chosen as patrol leader; A preparatory two-day hike in the area. One of our patrol was a chubby, whiny lad, so we spent some effort nursing him home. He was worth it: good sense of humour!

Then the climax, the big challenge: The course-ending six-day hike! By bus to Giants Castle in the Drakensberg.

Photographic trip to Giant's Castle Vulture Hide with Helen

We set off with our laden rucksacks down the valley, up the other side towards the snow-topped peaks, heading for Langalabilele Pass and the High ‘Berg. We had walked about 5km when a faint shout sounded and continued non-stop until we stopped and searched for the source. It was an instructor chasing after us and telling us to “Turn around, abort the hike, return to Greystones! Walk SLOWLY!” Someone had come down with meningitis and the whole course was ending early!
We were given medicine and sent home with strict instructions to take it easy: No physical exercise.

But our rucksacks were packed

  • pic here –

and our wanderlust aroused, so we headed straight off to Mt aux Sources soon after getting home.

(In those days only the left-side ladder was there)


I had no photos, the only record I still have of the course is the felt badge they gave us on completion:

but then I found a website by someone who had been on the same course – Willem Hofland – and he had these black & white pics which I am very grateful to be able to use! He also had this pic of the badge and his course report and certificate, which I no longer have.

Giants Castle pic from howieswildlifeimages.com – thanks!

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