Hiking in Clarens: a spirited stay at St Fort Country House

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 9 September 2015

Keeping with the character of Clarens, St Fort Country House is a historical sandstone home dating back to 1913. Set on Free State farmland underneath the ochre-orange Maluti Mountains, St Fort is just 5 kilometres from the arty village.

Also read: Five great places to stay in Clarens

 
St Fort Clarens - Melanie van Zyl-1-2
 

The old farmhouse keeps its heritage character with antique furniture, vintage black and white photographs and worn wooden floors, while retaining modern comforts such as DStv and electric blankets. The five-bedroom home can be rented as a whole or, with the clever closing of doors, divided into two private self-catering sections with a kitchen and fireplace. Next to the farmhouse, there’s also a quaint garden cottage available as a more secluded couple’s alternative.

 

St Fort Country House farmhouse

The main farmhouse at St Fort Country House.


St Fort Country House Clarens - Melanie van Zyl
Fort Country House Clarens - The quaint cottage alongside the farmhouse.

The quaint cottage alongside.


As for the trails, there are four of them, each clearly laid out and well-marked. The tracks, which clamber up the sandstone hills surrounding the picturesque country house, differ in physical difficulty and there is something for everyone. ‘Mushroom Hike’ is a beautiful short walk past mielie fields, along a willow-filled river, then up gravel pathways and a ladder to the shapely eponymous rock.

 
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
 

The two-day 16,5-kilometre ‘Cannibal Trail’ through the Witteberg and Rooiberg Mountains is the hike worth travelling for though. The first night is spent in dormitories and the second night in a large cave. You can see rock art along this trail too.

Both sites have ablutions and firewood is supplied. Just fill up your pack with food and a sleeping bag. Rumour has it that the Cannibal Trail got its name thanks to cannibal legends that spread from the area during the 1800s. The easy to moderate overnight trail costs R298 per person and the best time to do it is from September through to April before evening temperatures plummet again. Porters can also be arranged for an extra fee if slackpacking is more your idea of a holiday.

 
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl
St Fort Country House - Clarens Hike - Melanie van Zyl

 
See all St Fort hiking and booking info here.

 
Also read: Guide to Clarens

 
 

This article first appeared in the September 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

Find three more fabulous and affordable hideaways that give access to a host of splendid hiking routes in our September 2015 issue.

 






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