Country Life Magazine Front Page Article about Forest Edge
My daughter has a delightful book entitled Rebecca in the Knysna Forest. It is a lovely story of a little girl walking through the once dense forest; of her seeing the exquisite yellowwood and stinkwood trees, the ferns, the ‘Beware of Elephant’ signs, which causes her imagination to run wild. The young reader is transported to an exciting world of nature, of escape from the humdrum, with images of babbling fresh water pools and brightly coloured Knysna loeries flying overhead.
My chance to inhabit the fantasy world of my daughter’s came as a result of a visit to Forest Edge.
Driving to Forest Edge is easy, it is roughly 8 kilometers from Knysna. We took the Rheenendal turnoff and continued for +- 11.5km till we came to the Bibbey’s Hoek turn-off where we travelled for a further 2 kilometers before reaching the three cottages on the edge of the forest.
Only an artist could have created those three little gem houses – built by the De Bruyn family. They are replicas of the old mining houses of the former mining village of Millwood, which was situated close by.
The cottage we occupied might have been built with materials similar to those used during the mining days and might have conjured up memories of life a century ago, but it offered something more: those hectic days had passed and in their place was a sedate, restful escape from our stressed city life. The past is captured by the antique country atmosphere of the interior decor of the cottages, with furniture and old cup baths reminiscent of a long forgotten era.
However, one is not abandoned to the Spartan life of 100 years ago as each cottage has two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, a self-catering open-plan kitchenette, with lounge and functional period fireplace, complete with wood cut daily, all creating an inviting, cosy atmosphere. Comfort is provided by a charming person called “Girlie” who provided the service. There are outside braai facilities, with wood constantly available.
The water at Forest Edge comes from a mountain stream deep in the forest. It smells fresh and is dark in colour as it flows over and absorbs the natural extracts from the leaves and roots of the trees in the forest. We felt the difference in the quality of the water after washing: the soft qualities are said to be relaxing and healing to the body and hair.
Another outstanding feature of the cottages is their position. They are situated, as the name suggests, on the edge of the forest. The forest (Millwood State Forest) is densely covered with indigenous vegetation. There are a number of interesting walks in the area, though the most frequented are four forest walks leading directly from the cottages: Lourie Walk, Bushbuck Walk, Treasure Walk and the Drupkelder Walk. We first ventured on the Loerie walk and found it easy for young and old. The forest area has lush vegetation, impressive tree ferns and indigenous trees – which Knysna is famous for. For those interested in history there is also an interesting old mining village to visit.
My favourite walk, although the most strenuous of all, was the Drupkelder walk. The exquisite trail leads to the Homtini river. The beautiful pools below are unspoiled. The water is black and refreshing. This is a special place and definitely a scene out of Rebecca in the Knysna Forest.
Lilies cling to the rockface, hanging down in bunches – what a pure Midsummer Nights’ Dream experience. We also came across some caves at the base of the walk before reaching the water; minute stalagmites and stalactites being formed by the droplets. There is abundant plant and animal life, fynbos and the indigenous yellowwood and swarthoud trees from which the famous Knysna furniture is made. We managed the Drupkelder walk in about two hours, though it is not an easy one.
There are lovely horseriding trails throughout the forest with ‘forest rides’ and several bicycle routes near the Jubilee Creek area.
If you are worried that you will be completely cut off from ‘civilisation’, you need to know that Forest Edge is close enough to Knysna to provide the facilities that a town offers. Knysna has its own private hospital, and if you want to have some 90s entertainment there are several movie houses and 20 restaurants that offer a variety of other easily accessible delights. Knysna Tourist office is helpful for booking train trips on the famous Outeniqua Choo-tjoe steam train from Knysna to George, or for booking you on board the Featherbed boat for a tranquil trip on the lagoon or down the river.
Forest Edge has a guest book in each chalet. Reading through the names of the guests who commented on the accommodation, I noted a predominantly international clientele, with guests returning time and time again to the same cottage, which testifies to the warmth and enjoyment of the very special accommodation at Forest Edge.