The Sedgefield Walkie Talkies chose a cool day to walk the Slowtown Tourist Route. Tourists would normally drive this route but it was decided it would be quite feasible to walk it as its only 8kms in length and there was 60% likelihood of rain forecast so we could easily opt out and go home if that materialised.
It is only the first part of a longer route planned by Andre Gauchè, initiator of the Slow Town proclamation of Sedgefield.
There are two places where bold signage announces the start of the circular Slowtown Tourist Route.
One is next to Filo’s Restaurant at Sedgefield’s only traffic lights on the north side of the N2 and the other is found when coming into Sedgefield from the Knysna side and turning left at Egret Street where the "Welcome to Sedgefield" banner stands proud.
Because the walking group park their cars at the train station on Uil Street, we began at the START next to Filos.
The walk up the main street is past engaging and interesting shops amongst them, Sedgefield Classic Cars, African Affairs, the Fresh Bean Cafè,(whose food we all can vouch for!) the Little Wood Shop and Wool ‘n Things.
Eventually when we reached the garden of the Herb Lady at Egret Street, we crossed the N2 highway to the other START of the Slowtown Tourist Route, where some of our members who lived close by, then joined us.
Our group continued the walk up Makou Street that leads to an..... impressive residence.
At the point where Makou Street is intersected by Cormorant Street there stands a Sedgefield landmark – the Castle.
It has had a number of owners since the people who built it and at one time was a popular exclusive B&B.
Along Makou Street there is a great view of the Swartvlei Lagoon as it winds between ancient dunes on its circuitous route to the sea.
Walking along Cormorant street there are even better views over the village of Sedgefield as its nestles against the Swartvlei Estuary.
From there it's level plodding to Oestervanger Street that takes us into townships of Smutsville and Sizamile.
The townships were abuzz because it was Aids Day and a good many school children from Smutsville Primère were going to the Sedgefield Primary School to participate in joint activities.
(We did our own walk, because at the time, there was no Chumani Tour.)
The NPO, Masithandane that is directly responsible for the running of Aids assistance programs in and around Sedgefield was conducting a march into town together with Smutsville’s local award winning band that was going to be playing in the Spar Square.
The Knynsa Mayor would be delivering an address during the activities taking place in the village.
There was definitely an the end of the year feel to the day as many school children and teenagers were walking or playing in the streets.
We walked on through all the activity and visited the local indigenous nursery in Sizamile, which Pedro has been running for 17 years.
It borders on and runs parallel to a beautiful dune forest that he consciously keeps an eye on and protects.
Within the nursery he recycles plant material to compost the sandy soil.
His sons work with him in the business a few days a week and also as casuals for people in Sedgefield where their gardening skills are put to good use.
Their knowledge of local plants and how to propagate them is valuable to people from bushveld areas who know little about fynbos and what grows reasonably in the poor sandy soils of Sedgefield.
The sons also collect and sort various discarded steel, wire and timber items that they either use themselves or sell.
They also have a small craft workshop and furniture making and repair business on the site.
We completed the circular route through Smutsville and Sizamile and then returned along Oestervanger back to Makou, to continue the Slowtown Tourist Route by turning left to go down to Myoli Beach.
Afrovibe Adventure Lodge and Backpackers at Myoli is the hub for a whole bunch of outdoor activities organised by Pili Pili Extreme Sport Centre who also assist by facilitating links to other outdoor adventure operators and activities.
At Myoli which was over halfway we stopped on the beach for a refreshment break and watched a motor-powered paraglider take off from the sand and fly over the sea in the direction of Gerickes Point finally disappearing over the distant dune towards Wilderness.
Setting off once more, if it had been low tide we could have walked along the beach to the rivermouth and up the boardwalk to join the Slow Town Tourist Route again at that point.
However, as it was high tide we doubled back about 100 meters to walk along Leervis Road - next to which can be seen the initial layout of the new beachfront estate, Sandpiper Dunes - to the parking lot at the Swartvlei Rivermouth. It is the way tourists driving the route will go.
Fom there it was a very pleasant and scenic walk of 2 kilometers along Kingfisher Drive to the traffic lights at the N2 where the majority of walkers had left their cars parked at the station.
We agreed that it was an absorbing walk well worth doing as a group (as there's safety in numbers)and one notices much more when walking than when driving in a car.
The day wasn’t quite over as a good few of us tramped back to the Fresh Bean Cafè for some delicious refreshments.
Thanks to the initiative and determination of local businessman, Andrè Gauchè, Sedgefield has been accredited as Africa's first Slow Town. This small Garden Route town was able to fulfil the required criteria to be declared a Cittaslow by the Italian Organisational Committee.