A Hikers tale
Roman Baths – Kamberg Nature Reserve
While I am no regular hiker, I do find myself with a hankering to get out in nature on a regular basis, and if not for a good walk in clean air on a blue skied day, then, well, why not. So this is how I found myself in Kamberg Nature Reserve on what had been a particularly cold Winters week. In fact, the hike had actually changed days due to snow weather. Okay, not actual snow in the reserve, but it was cold enough to deter me anyway.
As it happens, the Sunday we arrived was quite pleasant. Azure skies with wisps of clouds, no ice cold winds and just a pleasant day all round. Don’t get me wrong, getting to the Reserve is not without its small challenges. Some of the potholes in the Kamberg Valley could be used to make ponds, perhaps with some lillies and Koi fish. Avoiding them is all but impossible. It’s more a case of pick the pothole that is likely to do the least damage and grit your teeth, followed by many apologies to your car. But get there we did!
I was quite surprised to see the cottages with teeming families around them and cars alongside. Kids being pushed on swings and climbing jungle gyms under the watchful eyes of parents. I didn’t expect the Reserve accommodation to be that popular. I had heard of neglect in upkeep and wondered at whether people visited much, with Kamberg being a bit of a Cinderella reserve. But the accommodation was full. This makes me smile. I chatted to one of the vacationers to get a feel of what the accommodation is like, and she told me that admittedly there had been power issues that week, but that everything else was just fine.
Anyway, I had come to hike. So off to the reception we go to do the admin part and get the needed directions to the Roman Baths.I had seen a wonderfully cinematic video on this hike and wondered why I had never been out to this epic looking spot. I had then read in a blog that it was somewhat difficult to find. What I didn’t count on was pretty vague directions, no marking posts (at all) and a scorched reserve. Although that being said, it did make it a smidgen easier to find the animal tracks, which we ended up following for half the time.
On enquiring about how most of the lower section of the reserve came to be burnt, I heard that poachers had started the fire which became a runaway. It is a pretty vast area to be burnt and it felt somewhat alien to be walking in this black, crunchy landscape dotted with brave wild flowers and luminescent shoots of green grass just beginning to sprout. That being said, the mountains are no less spectacular for this event. In fact, it tends to draw ones eyes to their magnificence even more. The towering rock faces and massive boulders framed by a busy river with gin clear water.
We wound along the bottom of the valley along the river and then climbed up the hills closer to the mountain (like I mentioned, we found the path difficult to find). After much panting and out of breath conversation we hit the path. We stopped though and had a bit of a stare off with the Eland who moved on when we started walking. I wonder at how such a large buck finds enough greenery in this scorched area. It seems though that there are pockets of bush in the valley that are largely untouched, which I am sure attracts their attention.
An hour or two on, we reach the end of the path and have to figure out which direction to go. The Roman Baths cannot be seen from the path you hike, so for this reason it is both alluring and mighty frustrating. The directions do not help. Someone seriously needs to relook at them for a rewrite. We literally could have gone a number of ways (and actually did) before we found something that resembled a path. By this point, the sense of humour was starting to run a bit low. After walking up some further inclines, I elected to take a break on a rock and see if our friend Mark, who had scouted over the next hill, could come up with a solution. On doing so, my friend turns to me and says “come and take a look at this”. Lo and behold…. Paradise!!
We had finally arrived (as the whooping from over the hill confirmed).The river running through the pools and around huge boulders over gorgeous rock pools is a sight for sore eyes and refreshment for sore feet 🙂 The Roman Baths run through various pools which are accessible from both sides of the river, and the hill we climbed. We realised that the video I had watched was from a lower pool, whereas we were at the stream at the top pool. The water is a deep blue green and you can see how deep the main pool is, while the light reflects off the surface like gold.
I didn’t see any trout, but that being said, I am fairly certain they populate the lower reaches of the river.
We looked at the streams, explored around the pools, tried the water and thought better to leave the swim until Summer (very, very refreshing) and even drank some of the stream water. I reclined on a rock listening to the falls and wondered how many people have had the pleasure of actually experiencing this spot? I mean being able to just sit and be in nature so beautiful that it heals. As I look up, I see vultures circling off the cliffs and wondered if they can see us as little specks along the pools?
Once we are rested, we pack up and head on back (this time along the road we found) to the entrance of the Reserve. The walk back is much easier along the path and takes maybe half the time. My feet were only too happy to find a seat at the end of the walk, where we signed back in with a sense of accomplishment.
I had read that in a few places that the hike as a round walk of 8km. I can confirm (yes I tracked it) that is more like a 12,5km hike. Just for those who need to plan extra snacks and water. It is classified as an easy hike. I would put it closer to a moderate hike. Mind you, if we had walked the road both ways, it probably would have been easier.
“Is it worth it?” I hear you ask. I would say a definite yes. I would imagine when there is grass that the beauty is only increased. The views are gorgeous. There is wildlife. It is peaceful. You can probably swim in most of the pools in Summer (when the water is not so cold) which makes it a super day outing.
Just to give you a bit of a preview of what you will experience, here is a quick video….
If you want more information about Kamberg Reserve or you want to book accommodation, you can find there website by clicking here.
Until then….See you on the Road!