We lived up a hill and sometimes saw duikers on the back lawn. We had no fence or gate and to get into the bush, I just walked down the garden — and kept walking. Through lovely msasa woodland down the hill, then over the (then, far narrower) Crowhill Road, and off into the vlei. Very soon I’d be where the highly developed Borrowdale Brook complex is today. Except back then in the 70s, it was just — beautiful bush and vlei, that went on, and on, and on!
I love solitude, and wild places and nature studies. And now, running, too, mostly with my three dogs, for quiet but energetic company! I quite often run back to my car in the dark, especially in winter when the light fades so early. Neither am I afraid then.
I’ve faced many genuinely dangerous moments — quite probably more than your average person in my social milieu. Being out alone in the bush, or in this case, in the bush on the edge of the suburbs, has never counted among such moments, nor do I expect it to. I warmly greet anyone I meet, and invariably, in our own great Zimbabwean way, receive a friendly response in return. I truly believe that allowing oneself to be governed largely by fear is a negative way to approach daily living and leads us to curtail and limit what we do to the extent of denying ourselves the very best experiences in life.
I love wildlife and scenic beauty and on these excursions, get to see both, in the best circumstances— quietly, alone, and in the gorgeous golden early evening light. Likewise, it amazes me how many people deny themselves the countless pleasurable artistic and social happenings that go here on after dark — because, out of fear (and often a rather foolish habit of believing every rumour they hear), they refuse to drive at night!
I took 17 Mountain Clubbers on a very fine adventure last weekend. This is a club for those wanting to do anything from a Saturday afternoon walk somewhere pretty, through to learn to rock climb, go on a week’s mountaineering in the Chimanimani mountains or somewhere beyond borders, and various pursuits in between. These include regular social braais, and talks by fellow adventurers on their latest expeditions. Confessing that I’m not a very active member, excessively busy bee that I am in so many areas of life, I do lead the odd outing and give the odd talk! This is a friendly bunch of people and it attracts members and guests of varying ages and levels of fitness, including newcomers to the country who want to find out where to go and what to do in our beautiful great outdoors — and make some friends as well.
Previously having taken the clubbers on walks in Chishawasha, Haka Game Park and Chinhamora, this time I decided to share with them, parts of my favoured stomping grounds very close to home, explored regularly while running of an evening. Frankly, there’ll be no end to such exploring, because there’s always some new place to discover in this vast area, encompassing the swathe of vlei, woodland, grassland and bushveldt from Chisipite, through The Grange and Gletwyn, the vast bush and vlei areas surrounding Chikurubi Prison, Lafarge Cement and Sternblick Mine, and on into Chishawasha. From several vantage points easily accessed in these areas, one can enjoy a panoramic view of various ranges of mountains including Chinhamora, and towards Shamva, Arcturus, Enterprise and Bindura. The enthusiastic group who gathered for this walk on the edge of the Chisipite vlei, ranged in age from their 30s, to 60s and 70s.
Well over 15 km, and four hours, later, we had widely explored woodland, grassland, vlei, reed-bed and riverbank, fought our way through several areas of three-metre high grass where once well-worn paths had been eaten up by nature this past season, squelched through thick black mud, spotted Meyers Parrots among other interesting birds, found bushpig diggings, and yes, thoroughly enjoyed every minute! I was more than impressed by the admirable fitness level and stamina of the group, stronger and more gungho than many I know less than half some of their ages — showing the great benefits of staying physically active through a lifetime. They agreed there was plenty to explore out there, and to most of them, it was a new discovery.