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Bastersnek (R369)

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Bastersnek is close tothe Central Karoo town of Colesberg Bastersnek is close tothe Central Karoo town of Colesberg - Photo: The Purple Scarf

Bastersnek has an almost perfectly symmetrical up-and-down profile, but in miniature; the pass only gains a total of 40 metres in height, and is just 1.2 km long. It is situated 11 kilometres from the well-known N1 junction town of Colesberg, on the R369 to Petrusville. The road is tarred through the section where the pass is located, is in a good condition, and can be driven in any vehicle. It is difficult to establish when, how, and after whom the pass is named. Other than the Hunter’s Moon Safari Lodge (private) and the Doornkloof Nature Reserve, there is not much else along this road, so it is best driven as an out-and-back route. A couple of minor skirmishes took place here during the second Anglo-Boer War.

The small pass is also sometimes referred to as Plessispoort or Bastershoek Pass.

 

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[Video cover photo: Wikimedia]


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Note: Google Earth software reads the actual topography and ignores roads, cuttings, tunnels, bridges and excavations. The Google Earth vertical-profile animation generates a number of parallax errors, so the profile is only a general guide of what to expect in terms of gradients, distance and elevation. The graph may present some impossible and improbably sharp spikes, which should be ignored.


 

Digging into the details:

Getting there: To approach from the south, start off at the intersection of the R369 and the N1, at GPS coordinates S30.709146 E25.104796. Travel in a northerly direction along the R369 for 9.8 km to S30.641830 E25.038489, which is the southern start point. To approach from the north, start off at the intersection of the R369 and the R48 near Petrusville, at GPS coordinates S30.116909 E24.648912. Travel in a southerly direction along the R369 for 74.4 km to S30.632348 E25.033584, which is the northern start point. 

Merino sheep farmingMerino sheep country! / Photo: Wikimedia

We have filmed the pass from north to south. After a long straight flat section of road, the road begins to rise slowly towards the obvious gap in the line of hills in front of you. The incline is gradual at first, then becomes progressively steeper as you approach the high point. The road has been built up above the surrounding landscape to keep the climb as even as is possible, and a shallow cutting has been blasted through the rock at the summit for the same reason.

What appears to be an old quarry appears on your left as you crest the summit, which is reached at the 400 metre mark. The descent begins and the view opens up, offering an excellent vista over the flat landscape and the road stretching out towards Colesberg in the far distance. A very gentle left-hand curve leads you down the hill and the decline gradually flattens out as you approach the end of the pass at the 1.2 km mark. 

Sir Lowrie ColeSir Galbraith Lowry Cole / Photo: Wikipedia

Colesberg was founded in 1830 on an abandoned station of the London Missionary Society. Initially named Toverberg after a nearby hill, it was renamed to Colesberg after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, then Governor of the Cape Colony. The site of the town lay on one of the well-travelled routes used by traders, hunters and explorers to gain access to the interior. Towerberg or Coleskop is a prominent hill near the town and a landmark easily seen from a distance by travellers. Colesberg saw a large number of battles and skirmishes during the second Anglo-Boer War, and the Colesberg Garden of Remembrance is located just outside the town.

A number of 1820 Settlers established farms in the Colesberg district. Outnumbered as a religious group, some attended the Methodist Church and others the Dutch Reformed Church, where services in English were specially held for them. Anglican officials in Cape Town appointed Dr CEH Orpen as Rector and the first services were conducted in the Court House and the London Mission Chapel, which became known as St Stephen's Church. In 1852 the construction of the Anglican Christ Church was started, having been designed by Sophy Gray, wife of the Cape Town bishop Robert Gray.  

The town boasts many buildings that were built in a blend of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture with ceilings of reed, and yellowwood timbers. Others display a range of designs reflecting the changes of 19th century building. Originally plots were pegged out and sold on the site of the town to fund the building of the Dutch Reformed church.

Farming in the area is dedicated almost entirely to horses and merino sheep. While in a sheep-farming area spread over half-a-million hectares, greater Colesberg breeds many of the country's top merinos. Colesberg is renowned for producing high-quality racehorses and many stud farms, including one owned by legendary golfer, Gary Player, are nearby. The ostrich-feather boom of the early 1900s, which left many farmers very wealthy, is long forgotten. 

[Text & video footage by Mike Leicester] 


 

Fact File:

GPS START 

S30.632348 E25.033584

GPS SUMMIT

S30.636011 E25.034878

GPS END 

S30.641830 E25.038489

AVE GRADIENT

1:30

MAX GRADIENT

1:5

ELEVATION START

1386m

ELEVATION SUMMIT

1413m

ELEVATION END

1373m

HEIGHT GAIN/LOSS

40m

DISTANCE

1,2 km

DIRECTION - TRAVEL

South

TIME REQUIRED

1 minute

SPEED LIMIT

100 kph

SURFACE

Tar (R369)

DATE FILMED

21.01.2018

TEMPERATURE

33C

NEAREST TOWN

Colesberg (11km)


Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Bastersnek (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google Earth and most GPS software systems)

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