A river, a cheese board and wine - what more could one ask for. Picture: Clydesdale
A river, a cheese board and wine - what more could one ask for. Picture: Clydesdale
This swing overlooking the river is a good spot to sit and survey the scene. Picture: Clydesdale
This swing overlooking the river is a good spot to sit and survey the scene. Picture: Clydesdale
There are several forests in the area. Picture: Clydesdale
There are several forests in the area. Picture: Clydesdale

There are times when you might not have intended to stay the night in an area, but circumstances change, especially when you might have indulged too much in the good things of life, or if the weather suddenly turns inclement and you don't feel like driving home.

Recently a friend and I were visiting the KZN Midlands. We had popped in at Abingdon Wine Estate near Lions River. "Where can guests stay, who might have partied too much during a visit to your estate?," we asked owners Jane and Ian Smorthwaite. "

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"Take a stroll down our driveway, and check out Clydesdale just across the road. I often send guests there," suggested Jane. So we did just that.

Clydesdale, owned by Dave and Sharyn Taylor, shares a relaxing border with the Lions River, which was in full spate that day. Tiny rapids bubbled joyfully over the rocks, as the river flexed muscles which had grown atrophied during the recent drought.

A wooden swing, dangling from the branch of a spreading tree overlooking the river, beckoned. It was too wet to take up the offer, but I could picture the scene on a clear day. It would be the perfect spot to contemplate the surrounds, especially after a walk alongside the river. Although the Taylors own 350m of river frontage, it is quite possible to continue strolling for about 2kms.

Another good spot to loiter is The Trough, a name in keeping with Clydesdale horse theme. This watering hole offers a variety of beverages and comfortable arm chairs. It has an unusual concept: galvanised iron panels with large bolts. In fine weather these fold open, giving those enjoying The Trough a full-on view of the river and fields on the other side and a chance to feel the breeze on your cheeks.

It is an art to arrive at a rundown place and visualise its potential. Arriving at the farm Weltevreden, the Taylors found themselves in awe of the Lions River cascading over a wier just in front of the property. The majestic oak trees also inspired them. So they snapped it up.

The entrance, in the form of a tunnel with large circular openings is unusual. The couple said the idea is to funnel guests down past the house, without getting distracted. At the end they arrive upon a picture of the river. The tunnel itself is lit by fair lights hanging from roof rafters.

The four luxurious en-suite rooms have a decoration of ceramic tree branches and flowers spraying out above the beds. Two of the rooms have showers plus a raised spa bath. The other two, just large showers.

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Clydesdale does not do meals, their emphasis is on allowing guests an opportunity to experience the myriad restaurants on offer in the Midlands. "Most guests take breakfast at The Gourmet Greek next door to our property. Abingdon wine estate is often their choice of venue for lunch." For dinner, the options are endless...and don't forget afternoon cream teas!

The Nelson Mandela Capture Site and Museum is situated 5kms from Clydesdale. "For shady picnic spots and a dip in the dam, we recommend Midmar Dam. The indigenous Karkloof Forest is home to the Karkloof Canopy Tour, which offers ten zip-lines including twelve platforms," said the Taylors.

They also often direct guests to nearby St Ives, where mountain biking on various trails is suitable for all ages.

Contact: 083 64 22 999 

Email: [email protected]