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Ride of 200 Miles over Mountains of Basutoland: South African’s Adventurous Holiday by A. Milne

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:08 am

This article was written by my grandfather, Alec Milne, chronicling a horse trip across Lesotho in 1936. It’s a long but fascinating article. The photocopy of the article I have has lost all definition in the graphic and three photos that accompany it, so I have supplemented it with ones that did not run with the original story. I’ve tried to preserve the original spelling and style wherever possible. The links, obviously, are not original and have been added to add clarity to those not familiar with some particulars.

The Star, Johannesburg, Transvaal, May 16, 1936

"Trek" in Basutoland

To reach the South Coast of Natal from Wepener, in the south-east of the Free State, the author of this article decided to avoid the long circuitous train journey and ride over the mountains of Basutoland to Matatiele. He gives an entertaining account of his adventurous journey.

When my fortnight’s leave was drawing near and I had decided that it should be spent on the Natal South Coast, I rebelled at the thought of the slow, circuitous train journey. Some memory, more exsiting and interesting must be brought back to cheer my daily toil in the little town of Wepener. A nebulous idea began to take definite shape. Between Wepener and Natal lies the mountainous Protectorate of Basutoland, the very roof of South Africa. I would ride over the mountains to Matatiele. Once the idea had been defined, nothing could change my purpose; over the mountains I would go.

“Madness,” laughed my friends when I outlined my scheme. “Hair-brained,” they muttered when I showed no signs of relenting. As I am well versed in Sesuto and have a good knowledge of the journey I proposed to undertake, I was not disposed to listen to these croakings.

View Ride of 200 Miles over Mountains of Basutoland: South African’s Adventurous Holiday in a larger map

A glance at a map will show you the extent of the task I set myself. Find Wepener in the south-easern part of the Free State, and Matatiele in the extreme north-eastern section of the Cape. Then draw a line between the two straight across Basutoland and you will have a rough idea of the route. You will see that two mountain ranges, the Malutis and the Drakensberg, lay between me and my objective. That is easily read from the map, but unless you are acquainted with the country or are gifted with vivid imagination you will have no conception of the endless succession of precipitous descents and ascents by dizzy paths offering foothold to only a sturdy Basuto pony.


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