This is a blog concentrating on the Veld and Vlei Adventure School which was based in Estcourt, Natal. The Veld and Vlei Trust acquired the historic homestead of Sir Frederick Moor (the last premier of Natal) on the farm called Greystone, just outside the town of Estcourt and overlooking the Wagendrift dam.    

– Greystone campus centre left – Wagendrift Dam centre right –

From the farm’s name Greystone the location of this Veld and Vlei camp is often simply referred to as Greystone. 

The first Veld and Vlei Adventure School was established in Sedgefield near Knysna in 1958, followed by one in Elgin. The Greystone school was started in 1966. Courses were traditionally over the July and December school holidays.


Do tell us if you or a friend attended Greystones V&V – email Hugh at hands.on@iafrica.com

Why This Blog?

Attending a Veld and Vlei course was often a pivotal experience in a boy’s life. Most were in standard nine or matric at the time they enrolled on a course. The three-week period covered a range of physical activities ranging from an obstacle course, map reading and camping, to early morning runs, swims, sailing and a long hike in the Drakensberg.  Decades later, past trainees of the Veld and Vlei Adventure School look back with fond and proud memories of their time spent there.  Many returned in subsequent years as voluntary instructors or helpers, such was their loyalty and enthusiasm for the movement. 

This blog aims to keep those memories alive, and it is hoped that friends from those early times will share their stories, photographs, and anecdotes with others.

Early pioneers, organisers, wardens and instructors of the Greystone courses also need to be acknowledged and thanked for their tireless and enthusiastic dedication. It would be rewarding if their stories too could be woven into this blog.  

Hugh Solomon course G8 July 1970, Pete Swanepoel course G12 July 1972 and Anthony de Souza course G19 December 1975 decided we needed to get this going.

Emails are welcome to Hugh at hands.on@iafrica.com


Course G12 – Winter 1972

Above – Full group photo

Meningitis Outbreak

Peter Swanepoel was chosen leader of Uys patrol that year, and he writes how G12 ended up differently in that a meningitis outbreak cut it short just after the start of the long high-Drakensberg hike. ‘We had already set out but were called back, told to walk SLOWLY and sent home with an envelope full of big white pills. What a bummer!’

‘We were given blue felt badges and a poor-you-ous letter, but no course-completion certificates. And rightly so, I feel: A lot can happen on a six day hike in the high Berg in winter! Here’s the letter:’

– tough luck letter from Camp Warden Alan Webster – winter 1972 –

I wonder if I ever got my R3,79? Who’s running the tuckshop account these days?

More about that G12 course here for those interested.


Course G13 – Summer 1972

Hugh Solomon course G8 winter 1970 went back as a instructor on course G13 Summer 1972

Instructors and Crew G13 December 1972

Back:  Lex Morton, Chris Davies, Ronnie Muhl, Shane Pinchen, Andrew Saunders, Roy Southey, Tony Clayton

Middle: Barbara Birt, Clive Packer, Bobbi Amoils, Iain Kelman, Rob Birt, June Clayton

Front: Mark Chester, Cedric Amoils, John Templeton, Hugh Solomon  

Early pioneers

Heywood Tanner-Tremaine

Paul Tanner-Tremain writes the following:

You are right in that my late father Heywood Tanner-Tremaine(HTT) was instrumental in founding the V&V branch at Greystones.  The original Veld and Vlei School was at Sedgefield near Knysna. His three sons, (my two elder brothers and I) had all attended the Outward Bound Mountain School at Loitokitok on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, as school boys in our last year( 1959, 1961, 1963), when we lived in Kenya.  All three of us successfully completed the OBMS courses and reach the summit of the mountain.   My two brothers duly left Kenya for the UK after school to higher education.

At the end of 1963, my parents, sister Lynda and I left Kenya for South Africa and settled in Estcourt, when dad set up a VW franchise.  Lynda went to Estcourt High, and I went to the University of Natal in Durban for a couple of years before returning to Estcourt to help my parents in their VW business. While at varsity, I had joined their Mountain Club, and did a lot of rock climbing on the krantzes at Monteseel near Inchanga at the valley of 1000 hills, and a few weekend excursions into the Drakensberg, climbing various peaks near Cathedral Peak and Giant’s Castle.

In 1966, HTT was a charter member for the founding of the Estcourt Rotary Club. In 1967 he became President of the club, and he was instrumental in getting the Rotary Youth Exchange started for his district, and the establishment of the Veld and Vlei school at Greystones.  The Greystones property was once the ‘up country’ house of Sir Frederick Moor, premier of Natal, hence the area there being known as Moor Park.  I am not sure what the arrangement was with V&V occupying the house and grounds, whether it was donated or they got it rent free. There are still Moors living on the farms around Estcourt.

I remember spending weekends out there, helping to plan, build and test the obstacle courses prior to being open for the first course, which I think was in 1968. I did not enjoy the ‘tunnel’, particularly after we found a puff adder which had taken up residence!   Prior to that first course, I also scouted out the ridge from the school down to the Bushman’s river at Africa Pool for any suitable abseiling and climbing sections that we could use, with varying degrees of difficulty.  If you attended the course, you will probably know where I mean, and I could have been your instructor at the time.  I didn’t do all the courses up to mid 1973, but I did assist with the rock climbing and map reading sections on about eight or nine of the courses.  I know we experimented with one 2 week adult course where the big 120kg-150kg rugby players did not believe that the climbing ropes and I could hold them if they fell.  I belayed myself at the top, and asked two of them to get onto the rope at the same time, and of course, the belay and rope held them quite successfully.  Trust earned!  I gave up instructing in early 1973, soon after our first child was born.  We had a patrol member who actually totally froze on one of the climbs and would not move he was in such a panic.  I got one of the others who had reached the top, belay me and I went down to the young lad to get him moving.  He lashed out and I fell about 20 feet before the belay lad got control of me. The youngster was ‘broken out of his fear’ and he managed to climb back to the top, as did I, battered and bruised.  Time to call it quits as I had a family to consider.

I did a fair amount of the basic map reading sessions, including taking patrols out blindfolded,  in the Kombi, and dumping them with a compass and a couple of maps, and saying ”See you later” back at the camp.  The maps usually did not include the map that showed the dam or Greystone, but the adjoining ones.  One evening one patrol had not arrived, and we found them at the White Mountain Inn at Ntabanhlope!  The other favourite was the walk around the dam with instructors at checkpoints located on the map.  Then of course, the final expeditions up into the ‘berg.  One I do remember was being dropped off at Injasuti, overnight in Fergie’s Cave and Marble Bath’s Caves, then the trek up over ‘Cloudlands’, the Martial Eagle stream to Bannerman Hut, then up the pass to the top.  The December 1968 course had me as a ‘resident’ instructor, and I fell ill with what turned out to be jaundice while going over Cloudlands with a couple of the patrols. The other instructors took over my patrol and continued up the berg, and I broke all mountaineering rules, by continuing from Bannerman’s down to the Giant’s Castle camp on my own, where I knew Bill Barnes and Keith Micklejohn who were the parks board rangers.  Keith got me back home and into hospital in Estcourt. ( lots of stories of berg trips with Keith and the fun we had).

Sailing.  V&V managed to get 6 LJ Sprints which were based on the Enterprise training yachts, at very little or no cost.  They were delivered to the Boating club at the dam, and Henry Hyde’s brother, Mike, and I sailed them from there up to the Moor Park landing spot in three trips, cadging lifts back to the Boating club in between.  Great fun!  They were very stable little yachts and simple to sail.

People : HTT was chairman of the local V&V and others that I can remember on the board were Jack Swan as the resident camp manager at Greystone, Alan Webster who I believe emigrated to Australia, Henry Hyde I think since deceased, George Cross who was the mayor of Estcourt, Godfrey Symons farmer and Rotarian in Estcourt,  and possibly a few others.  I do remember John Hall and Dick Garstang as instructors, and there must have been more, but I cannot remember the names.  Somewhere I have some photos of Greystone and odd ones taken on the courses, so I will have to dig them out.  My father died in December 2003 in Estcourt, a couple of years after me and my family had emigrated back to the UK in 2001.  My late eldest brother helped clear the house, so I don’t know what happened to all my dad’s paperwork, probably consigned to the bin!

I am not sure when V&V in Estcourt closed down, but the Greystone buildings and grounds were later used by a Church group for some years, and I think it is now used as an adventure camp.

What a trip back into the past!

Best Regards and keep well,


Paul Tanner-Tremaine

Hampshire, England

Early pioneers

Jack Swan

The following article is written Hugh Solomon who attended G8 in July 1970 and returned several times in the 1970s to assist.

Jack Swan was the first and only full-time and salaried warden of Veld and Vlei, Estcourt. He and his family were given the use of the well-known homestead on the grounds of Greystone (the home shown in the main photograph at the introduction of this blog). I was at Hilton College with Patrick Swan and Peter Swan. In fact it was Peter who told me all about Veld and Vlei, and from his exuberant and entertaining descriptions of the course I just knew that I had to attend. I pulled out my fountain pen, found a Croxley pad, and wrote to the organisers asking if I could book on the July course 1970.

Fast forward to November 2021, I arranged to meet Patrick Swan at his home in Kenilworth, Cape Town in order to ask him about his dad’s involvement with Veld and Vlei back in the 1970s.

He told me that as a family back in the 1960s they lived in Seven Oaks, near Greytown, Natal. Jack Swan was the manager of Harden Heights Wattle Company. One day in 1968 he simply announced, over the evening meal, that the family was going to move to Estcourt. It was delivered as a matter of fact, with no further discussion, and took Patrick completely by surprise. And within days the Swan family had packed and moved to Greystone, with Patrick driving a truck loaded to the hilt. Jack Swan had been recruited by the Johannesburg head office to run the Veld and Vlei, Estcourt, operation. He was a wise and suitable choice as he had good experience in this field of outdoor education for schoolboys. He had founded the Enterprise Club at Hilton College and led several expeditions over school holidays. I am not sure how long Jack Swan worked for Veld and Vlei but Patrick alluded to a financial collapse and his dad was left without a job. Grinaker Construction was busy with the N2 highway near Estcourt and offered Jack a job. He handled this with aplomb and furthered his career. Later he worked for Jeffares and Green, Consulting Engineers.

While at Greystone, Jack discovered an Iron Age walled village site dating back to 1100 AD, one of the oldest Iron Age sites in Natal, which was subsequently excavated by Professor Oliver Davies of the Natal Museum. The site, om Makhabeni hill, overlooks Moor Park.     


Early pioneers

Henry Hyde

Written by Hugh Solomon, trainee on G8 July 1970

Henry Hyde was very involved with the Greystone course over many years, and so too was his wife Jo. As a local businessman in Estcourt he published a weekly newspaper which I think was called the Estcourt Gazette and had a retail stationery store in the town. Henry and Jo had four children, Edward, Catherine, Elizabeth and Charles. Henry gave of his time to Veld and Vlei generously and served as warden several times. He and Jo emigrated to Australia, and the children are now scattered around the globe.  

G22 December 1976: Back row Darryl Friedman, Trevor Dugmore, Dick Lavers, Chris Davies, Kim Becker, Clive Truter.

Middle row: Iain Kelman, Geoff Ward, Dave Carr, Jo Hyde, Henry Hyde.

Front row: Hugh Solomon, Mark Bischoff, Robbie Bidgood, Theo van der Walt.

I got to know the Hyde family better when I volunteered my services at the G13 December 1972 course to manage the kitchen and food side of things. I thought that my training as an army chef would equip me adequately for the task. It didn’t really, but fortunately I had Jo Hyde in the wings, bringing her much better and broader experience at Veld and Vlei to the fore. An unsung hero was Isaac, the cook (see photo below). I recall that he was employed as a cook at a school boarding-hostel on the Natal south coast, and was available over the holidays to work at Veld and Vlei. He knew his job backwards, and I was grateful to let him take full charge of the cooking operations.

     Isaac the cook at Veld and Vlei, Greystone, Estcourt

Year unknown, mid 1970s

Back row: Jan, Jonathan Harley, Trevor Mundy, __ , Neil Dummer, Rob Benion

Front row: Murray Robertson, Henry Hyde, Alan Webster, Ian Watson, Geoff Ward, Hugh Solomon

Murray Robertson, above photo, is the son of John Robertson who was the headmaster of Treverton College in Mooi River, Natal. Over the years a strong link was to emerge between Treverton College and Veld and Vlei, Greystone. From 1974 onwards the standard 9 class of each year attended a course.

The following photos were taken on G13 December 1972

I recall those old Bergens rucsacs being very uncomfortable!