A 15 minute drive from Howick, and just north of the Midmar Dam, Dargle is a minute hamlet set in the enchanting landscape of the Natal Midlands. Dargle is centrally situated on the Midlands Meander and contributes its share of craft outlets and establishments offering cosy country hospitality to this well patronised art and craft route. During cold winter spells, Dargle is a favourite destination for snow hunters coming from the warmer climes of Durban, just over an hours drive away.
The countryside surrounding Dargle was sparsely populated prior to the mid 1800s due to its incorporation in a Zulu Royal Hunting Preserve. Game was plentiful and elephants roamed the hills and valleys freely. Attracted by its lush vegetation and abundant water supplies, the area was soon settled by dairy farmers and in 1882 the picturesque St Andrews Church was built in Dargle. In 1889 trout were introduced into the region's rivers where they thrived and today, Dargle and the surrounding villages have become a popular destination for fly fishermen.
Guests visit to Dargle
We recently took our visiting German friends on a weekend trip through KwaZulu Natal's Midlands Meander. Our family has often taken this 80km Midlands Meander.......... stretching from just north of Pietermaritzburg through towns such as Howick, Lions River, Dargle, Karkloof, Curry's Post, Rosetta and so on, and we thought we knew the Midlands Meander well, but every time we discover exciting new places to explore, and this time was no exception.
The Midlands Meander brochure, informed us that there are over 160 places to eat, drink, shop and sleep, with a variety of Midlands Meander accommodation along the route for every preference - from old hotels, bed & breakfasts, self catering cottages, self catering chalets, guest farms and bush lodges.
By noon we'd experienced the world of The Midlands Meander........crafts - weavers, potters, woodcrafters and leather workers, and we'd sampled some interesting cheeses and locally brewed beer, just before pulling in to Balgowan for lunch. The Bierfassl Restaurant and Pub was an excellent choice, as they dabble in German cuisine, which suited us perfectly.
We continued on to Nottingham Road (to The Stables Wine Estate) for their April annual grape crushing festival, which was an afternoon of never to be forgotten foot stomping fun!
Saturday night we took a short detour off Nottingham Road and booked into Hawklee Country House accommodation - a charming Midlands Meander Bed and Breakfast situated on the banks of the Lions River. We must thank Dean and Belinda of Hawklee House for a wonderful evening of cosy old world charm and comfort, which included a spa bath in our guest suite, and luxurious goose down duvets.
After a rather late breakfast we continued on the Midlands Meander, (which by the way means 'to wander at random'), and took our time driving through Rosetta to Mooi River (which is the semi-official Midlands Meander end point), stopping along the way to browse and sample the many delights on offer - from lavender farms and wrought iron works to more thirst quenching breweries. On the 'down run' we spent a lot of time in one place of particular interest - a herbal centre where the girls splurged on boxes of essential oils.
Although we'd planned on arriving home in Durban late Sunday afternoon, we decided to stop at the Everglades Hotel in Dargle, as it's only just over an hour's drive from Durban. This Midlands Meander holiday resort, situated at the foot of the Inhlosane Mountain is a true 'country' hotel, and after a few jovial hours in the "Wattle & Daub" pub, we settled for one night's accommodation in Dargle, and enjoyed a leisurely dinner followed by a few games of snooker.
As it turns out, Dargle, just a 15 minute drive from Howick, is a charming Midlands Meander town nestled in a beautiful valley of mostly dairy farmers. This little 'hamlet' is well worth a second look, especially for a bit of Fly fishing for trout in the well stocked dams and rivers.
Perhaps next time we'll choose Dargle self catering accommodation, or even a Dargle guest farm for our stay. And once again, our thanks goes to wheretostay.co.za for their unbelievable variety of Midlands Meander accommodation options.
All in all, the KwaZulu Natal Midlands is a world all on its own,
Brenda and Marco