Finsbury Estate

where nature comes alive

Activities

ACTIVITIES OTHER THAN FISHING

The joy of Finsbury Estate is that it is for the whole family, although fishing is of course the primary focus. There are many other activities however to keep everyone entertained and active.

HIKING

This is really ideal walking and hiking territory with wonderful meanders along river paths that are kept well maintained at all times. This is easy walking at its best with the gurgle of water at your side and the fun of spotting birds and game, like Duiker and Bushbuck and of course trout. Please be aware that the riverside is the anglers’ domain and follow fishing etiquette when in view of an angler. Apart from the rivers there are many great rambles ranging from easy to difficult and covering different points of interest for the hiker. There are two main waterfall hikes, one quite strenuous and the other easier.


The Majubane Waterfall is the more difficult but is really worth a visit as it soars high above the Riverine Forest and drops down from the top of the escarpment in spectacular fashion, into an enticingly deep pool, ideal for swimming. This walk takes about 3 to 4 hours if you stop to admire the flowers, ferns and trees en route. Of course it can be covered in 2 hours if you are into the fitness thing. The bulk of the walk is along river paths with many bridged river crossings at the start of the trail for easy access. After that it is wet feet and a bit more adventure. Clivia occur in their hundreds along with Berg Agapanthus with their dark blue, drooping heads. Dozens of varieties of Ferns are to be encountered and in the right season you will have the chance of seeing beautiful Streptocarpus species and even Orchids growing in their natural habitat. There are great picnic and swimming spots for the children on the first section. Look out for spoor of buck and Bush Pig and if you are fortunate you will also see Vervet Monkey and hear the bark of Baboon. The final 30 minutes of the path to the waterfall is however not as easy and involves a stiff scramble over large boulders that may be slippery. Small children, the elderly and the unfit may find this section too difficult. Access to this waterfall is from the designated parking area about 50 meters before Unit 17 “Rainbow Rivers”. Walk past and below unit 17 and begin the trail by crossing the suspension bridge above the top weir.

The second option is the Steenkamps Waterfall trail. The trail starts with a very stunning walk on the mountainside that has a section of roped pathway to assist the hiker. This affords beautiful views of Berg Aloes often fussy with varieties of Sunbird. Seasonally, the hillside can be covered with literally hundreds of Scilla natalensis especially splendid after a fire. The walk comes to a pause at a tranquil river spot, where natural potholes have been worn into the rocks of the riverbed, that offers a welcome respite from the hiking. During summer months, to get to the actual waterfall it is necessary to wade in the river for the next 10 minutes or so, meaning that wet feet are the order of the day. This trail offers some of the best birding on the estate and can be accessed from the designated parking area located along the road beyond Unit 22 “Rock Solid”.


SPIOENKOP MINE TRAIL

The Mine walk above the Whisky Spruit is another interesting excursion. This trail has been developed by Management to give a view of the historical gold mining that occurred in the area and explores the open caste and shaft method. A pamphlet is available from the office or in the house file; giving directions and points of interest like stock pens and the crushing site along the route. Yellow-breasted Long claw are one of the birds spotted on this trail. The Mine Trail that is accessed from just behind the Staff Village, takes about 2 hours and is well signposted.

There are other mine walks to Little Joker, Mount Prospect and Mount Anderson but these require careful planning and notification to management.


MINER'S COTTAGE

The other option for a more strenuous half day hike is to the Miner’s Cottage. This old building affords stunning views of the valleys and has been set up as an overnight hut. Arrangements should be made to collect the keys from the manager. The hut is equipped with water, firewood and basic cooking utensils, plus bunk beds to sleep five people. It also has a cold-water shower and an outside toilet. Food, beverages, a torch and sleeping bags are all that are needed. There are a couple of routes to the Miner’s cottage. One is to go by vehicle via Highland Run & Troutkloof and requires permission from the respective owners, which management will facilitate for you. Unfortunately this route is currently not accessible. The only current way is by foot via the plantation of pine trees near Units 1 and 2. It is important to notify management of which route you intend taking.


MINE MUSEUM

A small museum has been set up by Management to give a representation of what life was like for the many families that mined gold in this area. Reconstruction of an old miner’s dwelling, along with the simple furnishings and equipment that would have been available to them is on display, together with a growing collection of artefacts found on the estate. Next to the museum is a biological display area which includes various animal & bird bones, birds’ nests, preserved specimens and rock types. Members are welcome to place any item found in the museum for other members to enjoy. The Museum is located between the Managers’ house and the office.


HORSE RIDING

There is an arrangement with the neighbouring estate of Nooitgedacht for horse riding on request. They have a variety of good riding horses available including Mares with foals at foot and Geldings. They offer trails to suit both the novice and experienced rider and also pony rides for the children. Arrangements must be made in advance directly through Arable Hunter at 013 2353185.


HATCHERY VISITS

This is always an interesting one for both children and adults. The hatchery comprises 7 concrete-and-earth lined raceways, 3 rectangular concrete breeding pools and 7 round pools for the fingerlings. There is also a small house where the breeding process takes place. The trout-breeding season is generally in May/June and arrangements can be made to view the various stages of this process. Feeding the hatchery fish can also be enjoyed, under supervision of management or hatchery staff. The estate is one of the few places where Brown Trout is bred successfully which is the result of the purity and cool temperature of the water, quite a unique combination in South Africa. The Hatchery has a large number of Rainbow Trout. These fish are counted monthly and released into our waters at regular intervals when fishing has depleted the stocks or adverse conditions have impacted on the river systems.


BOTANICAL

Finsbury lies in a unique ecosystem that falls within the Highveld and Lowveld habitats. According to botanists from the Mpumalanga Parks Board, who are in the process of compiling species lists, there are approx 2300 species of plants which have been identified in the area. 51 of these species are thought to be endemic (occur no where else) making our area extremely important in terms of biodiversity conservation. Of particular interest is the large number of orchids (currently about 24) found, which have been beautifully photographed by Graham Naylor & Nickie Shales. Please assist by photographing any interesting specimens of flora and noting the exact location as well. Some of the trees on the estate have been labelled to assist with identification and a list of identified trees can be found on the home page listing under Finsbury Trees.


BIRDING

The list of birds seen on the estate is currently at about 160. This list can be accessed from the home page under Finsbury Birds. Some of the rarities are the African Finfoot, Bush Black cap, Knysna Lourie and Guerneys Sugarbirds. Look skywards to catch a glimpse of the Jackal Buzzards and the chance of seeing and hearing the haunting cry of the Fish Eagle. Franklin and Guinea fowl are also very evident in the grassland areas while the waterfall walks offer good viewing of Lourie and Robins and a chance of hearing the tap of a woodpecker. Along the river walks you should see the flash of the ever-present Kingfishers.


SPORTING EVENTS

The office has satellite television reception that can be used to view the major sporting events such as Rugby, Cricket, Golf and Soccer finals. This facility can be arranged with Management.


PICNIC FACILITIES

A picnic site has been developed opposite the parking area near Unit 10. It is an ideal site for summer lunches with a railway sleeper picnic table under a large willow tree that overhangs a small stream and plunge pool. There are mining ruins to explore and an interesting walk up the valley to a small waterfall. This site offers a private and peaceful area to picnic with small children.