6 things to do in Cathcart

A visit to Cathcart explains why the Eastern Cape’s N6 is called ‘the friendly route’, says Gillian Warren-Brown. There’s time for a chat, exploring some history, and adventure too.

View overlooking the Lowestoffe Country Lodge.

Do this

Hike up Windvogelberg, or bring your own mountain bike as there’s a track to the top.

Get sporty at the Cathcart Country Club, which offers golf, tennis or squash. 0824822607
To join a bowls game (R25 pp), contact Linda on 0833497229.

Travel back in time. Pop in at the museum (call Helen Riggs, 0715440006, to open); view the stained-glass windows at St Alban’s Anglican Church (call church warden Ndumiso Magida on 0781297002). Also don’t miss Thomas River Historical Village, 28 kilometres from town on the N6 to Stutterheim. oldthomasriver.co.za

See animals and rock art. Glengarry Game Lodge, 28 kilometres towards Queenstown, offers game drives, which include viewing San paintings – for day visitors by arrangement. From R100 pp. Birders are welcome (125 bird species), free for unguided tours. 0827056541, glengarrygamelodge.co.za

Ferndale 4×4 Trails and Outdoor Adventures Tackle a challenging 4×4 trail (R250 per vehicle) and try some catch-and-release fishing (R50 a day), 071793976, ferndale4x4.co.za

Do a scenic drive on the Happy Valley road. Rugged vehicles only.

Ferndale 4×4 Trails

Eat here

Old Oaks Coffee Shop serves breakfast, light lunches and substantial meals. The beef burgers, with patties made by
a local farmer, are a speciality (R65). 48 Main Street, 0820865907 (closed on Mondays).

Wagonwheel Pies and Coffee Shop on the N6 has legendary pies and pineapple juice. 0458431300 (open mornings only on weekends).

Ramble Restaurant at Thomas River Historical Village hosts up to 80 people for Sunday lunch. Steaks from R100 for a 200g fillet. 0458431504 (closed on Mondays).

Cathcart Butchery is known for its excellent biltong, 0458431040.

Nic Nel outside his art bus, which is crammed with quirky second-hand items for sale

Stay here

Kenwyn B&B is a gracious home that sleeps 19 in well-appointed en-suite rooms. R410 pp excluding breakfast. Dinner on request. 0458431912, kenwyn.yolasite.com

Old Oaks B&B has two double bedrooms (with bathroom facilities in the room), from R425 pp B&B. For self-catering there is a family unit (sleeps four) from R950, and a cottage for two, R375 pp. Dinner on request. 0820865907, airbnb.com

Thomas River Historical Village is perfect for self-catering reunions. The former station master and foreman’s houses sleep 12 and 14 respectively, R200 pp. The old post office sleeps 16 and is good for backpackers, R100 pp. There are also 23 campsites, R75 pp. 045-843-1504, oldthomasriver.co.za

Ferndale 4×4 Trails and Outdoor Adventures is 25 kilometres from town. The campsite has a braai area and kitchen lapa with electricity, and ablutions with hot water, for R100 pp.
A self-catering chalet can sleep 10 (at a push) for R300 pp; minimum charge R700. 0458431741, ferndale4x4.co.za

Lowestoffe Country Lodge has three fully-equipped self-catering houses from R300 pp and R150 per child (4-18 years). There are 5,500 hectares of mountains, grasslands, rocky ridges and open space to explore, and horse riding and trout fishing activities are available. lowestoffecountrylodge.co.za

The Thomas River Railway sign

Where do the locals go?

‘I love climbing Windvogelberg for the view. It’s like being on top of the world.’ – Sipho Hokwana, candidate attorney

‘I love the outdoors, so having a braai at Koch Dam in the kloof above town is a perfect break for me.’ – Wendy van Zyl, B&B co-owner

‘I enjoy playing golf on weekends or hanging out with friends at Sam Meyer Dam.’– Jongile Tole, community development worker

‘The Country Club’s the centre of social life. Apart from sport, there are steak or pizza evenings; anything that gets people together.’ – Peter Brown, farmer

How to get there

The village is 120 kilometres from East London, or 58 kilometres south of Queenstown, on the N6.

Images: Gillian Warren-Brown

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