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Meandering in the Midlands

The rolling hills of Kwazulu-Natal are home to a scenic arts and crafts route that’ll have you coming back for more.
Roxanne Robinson, Sam Linsell, Supplied

It’s all about misty mountain bends and warm hospitality, ambling through quaint towns on the hunt for that delicious plate of buttery artichokes you’ve heard about, stopping off at ‘the place with the incredible view from the bathroom’, or finding the consummate addition to your decor stable. In short, the Midlands Meander in KwaZulu-Natal has all the elements you need for a perfect long weekend. 

1. Steampunk Coffee

Locals love it for the steampunk interior, kind baristas and fresh pastéis de nata, but it’s probably best known for its excellent coffee, which is traceable (mostly African) and roasted on site. Do your bit to save the environment by bringing your own mug, and remember, cash is king here.
Find it at Thokan’s Garage, Old Main Rd, Lions River. steampunkcoffee.co.za

2. Blueberry Café and The Winkel

Stop for a salad, scones or a slice of blueberry cheesecake, but don’t leave without taking in the vistas from the best bathrooms on the Meander. If knitting is your thing, The Winkel sells 100% merino yarn from Pull the Wool – plus all-natural beauty products by Lulu & Marula.
Find it at Netherwood Farm, R103, Nottingham Road, 033-266-7132. Blueberry Café

3. Shuttleworth Weaving

It’s well worth taking time to discover this family-owned concern that shares a space with Café Bloom. Find yourself a mohair, wool or cotton throw or rug (ask to see the gold-threaded ones) and if you have time, arrange a visit to their farm during the week.
Find it at 1 Notties Ave (D111), Nottingham Road, 076-709-3049, 082-540-9639. shuttleworthweaving.com

4. Ardmore Ceramic Art

World-renowned studio Ardmore offers weekday tours where you can observe its ceramic masters at work. Visit the gallery to admire their vibrant pieces, but be warned: you may feel the sudden urge to stretch your credit card to its limit here.
Find it at Caversham Rd, Lidgetton, 033-940-0034. ardmoreceramics.co.za

5. Abington Wine Estate

For a Friday sundowner or a weekend lunch and some wine-tasting with a view, head to Abingdon, the first estate to produce certified single-vineyard wines in KZN.
Find it at 7 D369, Lions River, 083-463-8503. abingdonestate.co.za

6. The Gourmet Greek 

Before you stock up on this little business’ handcrafted cheese and double-thick yoghurt, savour a free sampling from its delicious range – try the Brie spread.
Find it at 10 D369, Lions River, 033-234-4338. thegourmetgreek.com

7. Caversham Textiles 

At one of Caversham’s fabric screen-printing workshops, you can ignite your creativity and take home a tote bag in your very own print. Call ahead for opening times, or make an appointment to view its handprinted fabrics and products.
Find it at C4 Caversham Valley Rd, Lidgetton, 083-305-2928. cavershamtextiles.com

8. The Greenery Juice Cafe

Tickle your palate with an array of smoothies, pressed juices, bagel options or a crisp salad al fresco under the vines. Look out for the Ardmore wallpaper on the walls and grab a bag of frozen bagels for later.
Find it at 1 Dargle Rd, Howick, 082-373-5945. thegreeneryjuicecafe

9. Saint Verde Botanicals

You can easily spend ages gazing at the comprehensive assortment of exotic and indigenous succulents and agaves on display at the Trickett family’s farm and nursery.
Find it at 21 Emoyeni Farm, D666, off Dargle Impendle Rd, 082-449-1938. 

10. Groundcover

Groundcover will go out of its way to ensure you’re happy with your handmade leather footwear or bespoke accessories. Not everything is made to order here: there are finely crafted hiking boots and sandals in a variety of colours, and leather belts to last you a lifetime.
Find it at 3km off the N3 highway, about halfway between Mooi River and Pietermaritzburg, 082-562-0874. groundcover.co.za

11. La Lampara 

At this family-run Italian eatery, the dogs nap at your feet and the artichoke starter is so good it might bring you to tears. Go with friends so you can sample an array of dishes, and be sure to end with a limoncello. Make your lunch long and lazy, and then walk it off around the wonderful surrounding garden.
Find it at Farm Boschfontein, Lidgetton, 082-416-0195. La Lampara Italian Restaurant

12. The Cottage at Saint Verde Botanicals 

Looking to overnight in the Midlands? You won’t want to leave this gem in the Dargle Valley. Expect all kinds of attention to detail, such as carefully curated books and board games, and handwritten notes explaining why there’s no TV. Cooler months call for a crackling fire and jazz on the turntable.
Find it at 21 Emoyeni Farm, D666, off Dargle Impendle Rd, 082-449-1938.