Whether your leisure tastes run to outdoor pursuits like fishing in a clear mountain stream, lurking in a chilly weekend hideaway with a book or attending a great Easter Passion play, the little village of Lady Grey, tucked in the Witteberge in the Eastern Cape, has it all. It's a chilly winter's night in Lady Grey village, nestled into the Witteberg Mountains in the high country of the Eastern Cape. This area is also famously called 'the tail of the dragon' - where the southern part of the Drakensberg (literally the 'Dragons' Mountain in Afrikaans) range peters out.
No-one here in the sports club seems to mind, however, because the bagpipes are in full blow, the whisky is in full flow and a steaming haggis is about to be sliced up for supper. There's a guy near the stage flogging colourful kilts hand over fist. This distinctly Scottish affair is the culmination of The Lady Grey Royal MacNab competition, during which the entrants have to catch a trout, hunt a mountain reedbuck and bag a greywing francolin, all in the space of one day. This time there are only 4 successful 'MacNabs' - including a woman who downed her mountain reedbuck from an amazing distance of 344 metres. Most of us can't even really see that far.
The MacNab is just one of the festivals that Lady Grey pulls off with aplomb every year. At Easter, villagers and students from the Lady Grey Arts Academy stage a 3-day Passion play, during which scenes from the life of Jesus are acted out all over town. When you arrive in Lady Grey in the snowy season, you might think you had been suddenly airlifted to a Swiss village high up in the Alps. It is truly 'chocolate-box beautiful' and local residents take great care to maintain the old Victorian building styles that have made this place such a drawcard for weekenders and new settlers alike.
Named after Eliza Lucy Grey, the wife of Sir George Grey, who was governor of the old Cape colony from 1854 to 1861, the village is a great base for visitors interested in San rock art, hiking, 4X4 trails, fishing, hunting or simply relaxing on top of the nearby Joubert's Pass, looking down on the world with a tot of Scotch and fresh mountain water, drawn direct from 1 of 1000 flowing streams.
How to get here
Lady Grey is close to Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape province, and about 2 hours' drive east of Bloemfontein.
Best time to visit
An all-year destination, with snows in winter and blooms in spring.
Where to stay
There is accommodation to suit all pockets, including hotel, b&bs and self-catering options
Around the area
There are 7 major mountain passes in the area - all of which offer spectacular views.|
Tours to do
Wild Mountain Adventures (see contact details below)
DID YOU KNOW?
Lady Grey's Royal MacNab originates from John Buchan's book about a poacher, entitled John MacNab.