River Walk & Picnics
Meandering through Doolhof Estate is the picturesque Kromme River, which is supplemented by Gawie-se-Water. The River Walk, which was created in 2007, allows visitors to enjoy the scenic views on offer at Doolhof. One can follow the meandering path for several kilometres and stop at any one of the designated picnic sites along the walk.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy a 10km walk through the vineyards. Doolhof, which is known for its mysterious hills and vales, is also home to many small mammals, including buck, porcupine, baboons and even leopard and who knows – you might even come across the Minotaur!
Delicious picnic baskets are available upon prior reservation.
To book your picnic please call us on 021 873 6911.
GAWIE SE WATER – LIFEBLOOD OF THE BOVLEI FOR 150 YEARS
Just before arriving at the small scattering of houses which marks Bain’s Kloof’s Eerste Tol, you will see a clear, abundant mountain stream tumbling from the rocks above. This is “Gawie se Water” – an intriguing name, with an equally fascinating background.
Gawie se Water (Gawie’s Water) is so called after the pioneering farmer Gawie Retief, who first opened the furrow which leads from the Witte River to the Kromme River, running several kilometers over rocks and stony ground to dispense its clean, fresh, life-giving waters to farmland in the valley below.
Before Gawie “stole the water”, almost 150 years ago, the Witte River followed a time-worn, contrary-wise path along the foot of the Sneeuberg, away from Wellington and towards Worcester, where it spilled into the already inundated Breede River – much to the chagrin of local farmers, who sorely needed the water to irrigate their often-parched summer crops.
Coveted since the early days of the Wagenmakersvallei settlement, the waters of the Witte River were declared, in 1815, by a Land and Forestry Inspector named D’Escury, to be “the purest he had ever encountered!”
In 1925, A.W. Schreuder, builder of the long-gone Bain’s Kloof Hotel, enticed many an ailing British visitor to experience the fresh mountain air and clear, healing waters, with the promise of its restorative powers.
Bain’s Kloof, which boasted a navigable road from 1853 onwards, became a popular holiday spot, with people picnicking and swimming in the cool, deep mountain pools of a river once teeming with trout.
When Bain began construction of his legendary pass in 1849, he realised it was possible to lead the Witte River into the valley, and offered to do so for the then princely sum of £600 (roughly R1 200.00). Rejecting what they felt to be an exorbitant fee, farmers in the area resolved instead to do it themselves. Gawie Retief, of the farm Kanetfontein, elected to undertake the task. Ironically, by the time the furrow had been completed in 1860, the final cost amounted to far more than that previously quoted by Bain. When Retief embarked on the project, he surely had little conception as to how arduous and complex his mission would prove to be!
In the mid-1930’s, engineering advancements improved the canal’s flow, but Gawie se Water remains a testimony to Retief’s skill in gouging out its path, having first cleaved the obstructive boulders by making fires upon them, and dousing these with water.
For a feat achieved long before the days of dynamite – and one which even now continues to bring the sweet waters of the Witte Rivier to thirsty farms in the Bovlei – Gawie se Water should be regarded as a real miracle of its day