‘Assegaai Trails’ originated over a glass of wine in about June of 1999. A suggestion was made to create a hiking trail on the farm to be able to easily access and enjoy all the beautiful spots. This sounded like a good idea, and soon branches and loppers were flying in every direction, and many hours were spent plotting the first trail. Then, to our surprise, what had begun as a project just for our own enjoyment, created more interest than we had ever anticipated, and soon many hikers were walking the trails.
This, of course, prompted the need for an overnight camp, and ‘Rock Bottom‘ evolved in 2000. Situated in an idyllic spot on the bank of the Assegaai River, and at the foot of the 100m Glenfield cliff, this became, and is still today, the most popular spot at Assegaai Trails!
Over the years, and with much blood, sweat and tears (literally!), the various routes have been added to, and changed many times. A second hiking camp, ‘Bottom’s Up‘ was added, and the trails have attracted many hundreds of hikers – and non-hikers – who want to exchange the stress of the city for the tranquility of nature.
Requests from larger groups, prompted the need for a larger accommodation area, and the old unused packshed (now the hall) became the obvious choice. Built in 1952 when queen pineapples formed one of the chief farming enterprises, this structure was where the pineapples were packed to be transported to markets all around South Africa. This packshed had also served as a storage area for maize, a general work area and even a ‘movie theatre’ for staff get-togethers.
Close by stood the dilapidated old original farm house, and so a plan was hatched and the ASSEGAAI CENTRE became a reality in 2002. The cottages followed soon after.
2004 saw the addition of the little stone chapel – we had been blessed in so many ways, and this was one way that we felt we could share the blessings. So, on Sunday 29 August 2004, a very large crowd gathered at Assegaai Trails for the consecration service of the new little chapel conducted by Rev John Bailie.
What happened then, though, was that suddenly (without any warning) Assegaai Trails became a ‘wedding venue’, where many couples have chosen to exchange their vows.
It’s been an exciting journey, which continues to take us in various directions. From humble beginnings when Ray’s grandfather, Bertram Montague Riddin, bought the farm ‘Glenfield’ in 1935, the various generations have toiled to produce many and varied agricultural crops, and cattle have always been a part of the farming enterprise.
No agriculture is practiced any more, but a healthy beef herd flourishes on the farm, and, if you take a walk, you will see some of the latest additions to the Assegaai family – some stately giraffe, some rather beautiful blesbok, families of ugly (but really cute!) warthogs, plenty of zebra, and many other large and small game.
so … the little hiking project has, over the years, grown into a much larger hospitality business. It now boasts about 35 km of hiking trails, over 100 beds in the various venues – two overnight hiking camps, a conference/wedding venue, complete with stone chapel or ‘outdoor chapel‘, and seven ‘upmarket’ cottages … and lots more ideas for the future!