Walkersons Hotel & Spa. Dullstroom

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"There are few places in my life that I've found more ruggedly beautiful than the Highlands of Scotland. The place is magical - it's so far north, so remote, that sometimes it feels like you've left this world and gone to another". Julia London

 

 

Hiraeth: A spiritual longing for a home which maybe never was. Nostalgia for ancient places to which we cannot return. It is the echo of the lost places of our soul’s past and our grief for them. It is in the wind, and the rocks, and the waves. It is nowhere and it is everywhere.

You don’t have to travel as far as Scotland to enjoy the look and feel of a Highland manor. From Johannesburg, you can take the N4 to Belfast (not in Ireland) and travel the 32 km to  Dullstroom.

It has been 4 years since my wife and I last visited this iconic hotel, set in a glorious valley just 10km from the centre of Dullstroom.

 

 

An old adage states “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and Walkersons has done just that. Driving through the hotel’s main entrance was like returning home, and the welcome we received from the staff was almost overwhelming.

 

 

The gardens on the property were in bloom when we were there and the display that they put on rivalled that of the daisies in Namaqualand! Although the ‘theme’ of Walkersons is predominantly Scottish, the gardens are reminiscent of those that might well be found in an English countryside mixed in with many varieties of indigenous South African succulents.

 

 

The only noticeable change to the reception area were the plethora of the COVID-19 compliance signs to remind guests to sanitize and to wear masks in public areas. Aside from that, the welcome was friendly and as our check-in had been done online, there was no paperwork to complete. All that was required was to collect our key and head off to our Lakeview suite.

 

 

One of the seating areas on the verandah that runs the length and can be used by guests and offers almost 180-degree views across the valley. The view through the side window reminded me of a large painting. Both breakfast and lunch are served here and it also offers seating areas where they can unwind and watch the birdlife that can be found in the gardens.

 

 

“Sunrise is the time to feel that you will be able to find out how to help somebody close to you, who you think needs help even if he doesn’t think so. At sunrise, everything is luminous, but not clear.”
Norman Maclean,  A River runs through it

In the early morning the mist rolls in and the valley and all the buildings and dams virtually vanish until it has rolled through. A most magical time and one that I had looked forward to experiencing once again on this trip…and I was not disapointed.

 

 

Inside our Lakeside suite. The kingsized bed was huge and most comfortable. Given the weather, it was bed and book time while we were there. And we decided to take FULL advantage of that! Going nowhere, except to breakfast and dinner…and a short morning walk so as not to feel too guilty about ‘taking the day off’.

 

 

A view that seems to go on forever. Both my wife and I spent time sitting here and contemplating the Universe…and what we were going to have for dinner.

 

 

I think that a bathroom sets the tone for the entire accommodation experience and this one did not disappoint. Well-appointed and despite COVID-19 it still offered a range of bath products. Many of the establishments that I have visited recently have removed these as well as many of the soft furnishings in the bedrooms and lounges in the rooms. This is certainly NOT the case here.

 

 

The suite had a working fireplace and although it was not cold enough for a fire, it was sherry weather.

 

 

“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re beautiful.”
David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

Another early morning walk produced mist that gave the trout dams an almost ethereal feel to them. I was hoping to try a spot of fly fishing however laziness and the option to do nothing won at the end of the day. So David 0, Trout 1…

 

 

“The water you touch in a river is the last of that which has passed, and the first of that which is coming; thus it is with time.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
Sitting on the side of the river which flows through the property, watching as the water lapped against the banks became hypnotic and caused me to spend some time here. Thinking about our world and how we are treating both it and each other. The solitude and the silence was a wonderful tonic that made me grateful for all that I have.

 

 

Dinner for two? Fine country dining in a superb setting.

 

 

I wandered around the public spaces, trying to capture the ambience of what guests enjoy. There are pockets of interesting items that caught my attention. I was looking to focus on the attention to detail and not the overall decor of the public spaces, which makes Walkersons so popular and has many guests returning on a regular basis.

 

 

Breakfast on the verandah overlooking the gardens. What could be more Scottish than kippers? Generous portions and attentive staff makes the guest experience an excellent one. And yes, there was trout on the menu.

 

 

Walkersons Hotel & Spa is set in a sub-alpine biosphere which makes their birdlife and flowers unique. There were two patches of these daisies in a vast sea of verdant grass close to our suite.

 

 

 

 

To find out more about what this awesome venue has to offer, click on the logo.

 

 

 

 

 

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