Monday, June 11, 2007

Valley of Desolation

Right, we finally get to the stunning Valley of Desolation which I have been promising for absolute ages to show you.

It is a mountain overlooking Graaff Reinet, and perhaps I should have shown you this first, as there are lovely views of the town from the top, and it would have helped you to get your bearings. However, the cool thing about blogger is, you can read the posts in any order that suits you, so feel free to jump around! By the time you have read this, and the previous 2 posts, you will have a good overall idea of the area.
We arrived from the North, after going through 2 mountain passes (the same ones which were covered in snow 2 weeks ago!)
Just on the outskirts of Graaf Reinet is a large lake, and if you turn right, skirting around the water and then up the mountainside,
you get to a spectacular view of a rugged valley.
The mountain is of Dolerite, a volcanic (Igneous) rock. You can clearly see, in places, the amazing patterns left by swirling streams of lava surrounding boulders. As it weathers the dolerite goes a rusty brown due to the high iron content, but when the surface chips off you see the dense black rock inside.
Because it is so hard, it remains relatively un-weathered compared to the softer surrounding rocks, so as they are eroded away, it remains, jutting out in spectacular formations.
This little conical hill is a classic formation seen in this area, where alternating layers of dolerite lava flows,
with softer rocks in between, weather and conical hills form with a hard flat dolerite layer on top, and ridges down the sides showering the layering.
If you click on this you should be able to read up a bit about the area.
A German tourist kindly offered to take a photo of us together at the cliff edge.
On the edge of the cliffs the wind is quite gusty, I really had to brace myself against it in order to look down on the deep valley. Max, who does not have a head for heights, was clucking like a nervous hen while taking this picture of me,
but the view was worth it!
There is another viewpoint with 360 degree views, and a topograph, overlooking the town. When we arrived we had a great time locating all the mountain ranges and geographical features shown in all directions.
While we were there it became apparent that the sun was going to go down in just the right spot, so we had to wait to capture it. Of course it was a great opportunity to kill time taking photos........
We started playing with the wonderful zoom capabilities of our camera. (To be accurate Max's camera, which he generously shared with me, and I shamelessly hogged! Perhaps it was due to this expedition that he ended up buying me my own in self defence!)
Here is the view of the town as seen normally,
here a bit closer. Again, the unusually wide ox-wagon friendly streets are evident.
and here is a real close up of the most notable landmark in town, the huge Cathedral.
and you can see the shadow of the mountain creeping progressively over the town while we waited. It was worth the wait.

On Saturday we looked at the art of Pierneef, so let's end this journey with his painting of the Valley of Desolation, painted when the early morning light was glowing in front of rather than behind it. Cheers!


RUTH said...

Those views are incredible.....and the sunset photos well worth waiting for. Suffolk where I live is very flat and it is thrilling to see photos taken from such a great height.

Sheila said...

Magnificent geographical features. What an 'old' appears almost spiritual.
I especially like your sunset pictures.

Janet said...

I think Sheila said it....these photos have a very spiritual look to them. You live in a spectacular country. I would find it difficult to concentrate on anything with all that beauty surrounding me.

Shirley Goodwin said...

Lovely photos, as usual - and a great painting too.

Suzi-k said...

yes, we are very spoilt having all this beauty on our doorstep, makes it almost worthwhile putting up with all the crime!