Lady Anne Barnard's Journal - Hottentots Holland Kloof (Part 1)

Lady Anne Banard's Journal' 7th May 1798

Many people are of the opnion that wagons were taken apart and then carried and dragged in pieces over the Hottentots Holland Mountain at the Kloof or Gantouw Pass. This extract from Lady Anne Banard's Journal proves that this is not the case...

Part 1:

The Tutor lent us a Team of Oxen to carry us to the foot of the Hotten­tot Kloof (Gantouw Pass, now Sir Lowry's Pass) a drawing of which, perfectly incorrect there is in one of our late Magazines . . . there we had others appointed to draw us up the precipice. I saw he had done Mynheer Morkel no injustice when he talked of Dutch Indolence, as we had scarce turned from the door before we found some bits of the path thro' which we had to pass, bad to the greatest degree, yet within the power of a few loads of Stones to render passable. In about an hour we reached the bottom of the Kloof, having passed but one farm House by the way . . . little game ... no tree or bush . . . and simply a field or two attached to the House in Tillage.

A Farmer at the bottom of the ascent stood ready with twelve fine, stout, beautiful Oxen, with horns which spread from pole to pole, ready to be put to the waggon. Sensible creatures! they seemed to be; for much did they appear to dislike the business they were going on, lowed piteously when they found themselves in the yoke . . . we were advised to let them draw us up as far as we chose to sit, the ascent is about a mile and a half or two miles long, but we soon preferred leaving the waggon, the sight of their exer­tions being painful to me, besides I wished to take a flying sketch from the Kloof itself of Gordons Bay the wide prospect we were leaving, where Bay succeeded to Bay and Hill to Hill carrying on the eye with an infinity of Bare Beauty, but there was unfortunately a distance fog which was a little untoward considering that it was not every day I could find myself here.
From this Spot . . . half way up the Mountain . . . wherever the eye turned there was heath . . . sand . . . Sea . . . Mountains . . . scarce a House to be seen, no cultivation and of course no population. I therfore hoarded up my little portion of hope which had been given me by the Dutch I had conversed with, who assured me that round Cape Town it was nothing, but that when I got to the other side of the Hottentot Kloof, a new Country would open on me, so fertile, so many houses! . . . the face of nature so bespangled with flowers that I should be delighted with it!
The Gentlemen had begged us not to follow the waggon too near, but to let the Oxen get on a considerable way before. Amongst other reasons which they did not give there was one they did, that the Cattle are some­times unequal to draw up the waggon if it is very heavy loaded, and ours was extremely so, in which case it frequently thunders down the Hill back­wards, dragging the Oxen with it, and is often overturned and lost by being so.
The crack of the drivers whip I too often heard ... it sounded like the report of a Cannon and the echoes of the Mountains repeated it round and round . . . Once I was getting on rather quick, the tutor who had ac­companied us up the Mountain to see us safe, stopped me with a "not so fast mi Ledi". I therefore looked about for flowers and saw great variety of plants, but none in bloom, the stone of the Mountain appeared to be mixed with Iron, sometimes Mr. Barnard & I stopped to consider if it was poss­ible there could be any better mode of reaching the Country we were going to, by the bottoms of the hills instead of crawling over the top of one as we were now doing, but we could spy none which did not indicate still greater difficulties and he therefore resolved to recommend the mending of this to Lord Macartney who was desirous of knowing its state.

Continued... Part Two

Note: Refrences at footnote of Part 2

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