The Tintwa and Middledale passes are divided by a plateau only and offer a scenic drive with spectacular mountain views. This 90km round trip is self-guided and better suited for high clearance vehicles. There are trails into the “lost valley” which are accessible by foot, crossing the original suspension bridge.
Middledale is also known as the ‘Lost Valley’, this is a 22km chasm filled with the indigenous flora and breathtaking Drakensberg views. Also an interesting background story, as this valley was home to the ‘White Tribe’ , which descended from Piet Retief’s Voortrekkers when they came into Natal via Retief’s Pass around 1837.
The land where this valley lies, called Jacob’s Ladder, was bought by Mr & Mrs De Heer in 1910, for a mere 25c per Acre! The land was not accessible by car or wagon due to the steep cliffs and kloofs and when the couple first arrived there they lived in a cave in the side of the mountain, later building the main house higher up in the valley on a plateaued area.
After reading articles such as the one by the Natal Witness in 1948, (view this article at the reception desk at The Green Lantern!) it was believed that the people who inhabited this valley were strange and Hill-Billie-like, with little education and no social skills, however the story has been proved otherwise.
The families who lived in the valley were normal people who had chosen to live a simple life at the bottom of the valley, building their own homes, farming the land and educating their children. In the later years the De Heers bought more land for farming outside of Jacob’s Ladder such as The Willows, and their son worked on a neighboring farm too.
They were known in the town and their children and grandchildren did, at later stages, attend the schools, with boarding facilities, in Swinburne. When Mr De Heer passed away in 1947 he left the farm to his daughter, Cornelia, and asked the farm would never be divided and kept in their family. Their descendants no longer inhabit the Pass, but at the bottom of the lost Valley there is the old man made suspension bridge which is still in working order.