Finally … the second installment of our McGregor adventures, following Monday in McGregor. Dust roads appeal to me. There’s something a little more adventurous about them, with their ruts and roughness and tiny stones lying in wait. In a wheelchair, dust roads can be challenging but, with my Freewheel, they’re easier. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal: the challenge. And that’s why my visit to McGregor was so cool. Well, part of the reason. The lovely people we met were the biggest part of the reason, the gorgeousness of the place, another.
McGregor caters to both dust road and tar road lovers. The main drag – Voortrekker Street – and a few of its offshoots being tarred, the rest dust. All of its roads are sprinkled with pretty buildings: the ornate big church, with its spire piercing the clear blue sky, Temenos sitting peacefully in its lush garden, old houses with broekie lace and the old jail that looks like a cake with white icing and green piping.
On Tuesday morning, we woke to a refreshingly cool morning, grey clouds gathering above the mountains. After delicious homemade cheese scones with Jenny at Le Bonheur, we headed a little out of town to taste some olives.
Olive cheesecake. Now there are two words I would never have thought I’d see next to each other. After a wonderful visit to Annalien at Rhebokskraal Olive Estate, two minutes out of Mcgregor, I have it on good authority that they do in fact go well together. The Olive and Ginger Marmalade, apparently, makes a brilliant topping on a cheesecake.
The marmalade is just one in an incredible range of olive products produced on Rhebokskraal, most of which we tasted during our visit. Annalien – who’s also a singer and author of ‘Ek Woon in ‘Skildery‘ (I Live in a Painting), and she really does! It’s beautiful! – and her husband bought the farm 30 years ago. It was a grape farm and they planted the first olives, learning as they went and bringing up the children on the farm. The grandchildren now bring life and laughter to the beautiful old farmhouse.
They produce everything olive you can think of, from traditional pickled olives (in a multitude of flavours), to dried (think olive biltong), to relishes, jams, moisturising creams and, my favourite, olive salt.
The ‘Road to Nowhere’, which leads out of McGregor and into the mountains in the direction of Greyton, which sits prettily on the other side of the Boesmanskloof, winds up into the mountains revealing spectacular views and ending abruptly on the farm Die Galg. After our visit at Rhebokskraal, we took a leisurely drive up the pass, gorgeous clouds still massing over the valley. As we neared the top, the clouds burst, plopping deliciously fat raindrops onto the dust road and kicking up that smell … rain on dust … that makes my heart squelch with joy.
Depending on who tells the story, the road between McGregor and Greyton (less than 20 km apart, if you’re a crow), was abandoned at this point, either because World War I broke out, or due to the money running out, or due to squabbles between the road makers. I’d go with all three, really, and I’d have squabbled too … it must’ve been back-breaking work through extraordinarily rocky land.
It is now possible to hike between the two villages and one thing everyone agrees on is that it’s a beautiful hike with an even more beautiful waterfall cascading to an even, even more beautiful pool to swim in. Sadly, that bit’s not wheelchair-friendly but those who like a bit of an amble (and this is an understatement, if you’re going the whole way to Greyton, it’s a full day hike), it sounds wonderful.
We stopped in at Lord’s Winery for some lunch and a tasting. Ian guided us through their fantastic range of wines as we nibbled on a cheese platter and watched the clouds roll over the hills and the building of the new tasting room, which promises to be spectacular. It’s the kind of place you could easily get stuck at: great wines, incredible views and a chilled atmosphere.
The Monster Munch Food Truck, an old repurposed fire truck, comes to McGregor every Tuesday evening, parking in the main drag and offering incredible gourmet burgers. After GM enjoyed her turn for a massage with lovely Atholl, we ambled down. Locals gather at Grape De-Vine to enjoy their burgers with great wine and a good old natter.
This is what village life is about and we happily met our new friends for all of the above after a wonderful amble through this most picturesque village. With tummies sated, we ambled back, as the almost full moon played amongst the clouds and a tiny weather vane pig frolicked in front of them, to Little Haywards, where we lay our happy and tired heads on possibly the best bed I’ve ever slept on.
The next morning after a quick pre-breakfast haircut by Dennie (and what a fabulous job she did!), and then breakfast in the gorgeous tranquil garden of Tebaldi’s with Dennie, it was time to head home. It felt way too soon.
McGregor, we will be back! Thank you for having us.
McGregor is surprisingly wheelchair friendly, situated on a very slight slope. The main road is tarred and the side roads are firm gravel, which were fine in the hot, dry weather, but may be more challenging in wet weather.
Lord’s Winery has a ramp which is at a rather steep gradient, but doable with some help. I’m sure the new premises will be much better. The front stoep is flat, but has those bench-attached-to-table tables. Inside, the cellar and tables are down some stairs. They were very kind and brought a suitable one up for me, so phone before you go and I’m sure they’ll do the same again.
Grape De-Vine is a little hole-in-the-wall right on the road, flat all the way through to the lovely courtyard out back, where there are comfy chairs and where owner, Susan’s, cats play happily.
Tebaldi’s, too, is ramped from the road and should not be missed. It’s gardens are absolutely gorgeous.
Little Haywards, where we stayed the night, was wonderfully accessible, with ramps everywhere. Big and airy, our hosts David and Lesley, were so welcoming and helpful, and keen to improve any accessibility issues.
The self-catering unit is huge, with plenty of space to manoeuvre in the living area, bedroom and bathroom. The beds are quite high, but David was going to make a little platform for that and, as I said above, they’e incredibly comfortable! The bathroom has a level shower (no grab rails) and a toilet that allows front access.