Green Mountain Trail

Houw Hoek

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The small hamlet of Houw Hoek in the Eastern corner of Elgin is home to our Wildekrans Country House. Simply made up of a few farms, a small Anglican Chapel, a farmstall, and the Houw Hoek Hotel – the oldest licensed inn in South Africa – this small community adds another dynamic to your stays here. With Wildekrans Country House’s homestead having been established in 1811 and the Hotel in 1779, the hamlet boasts a unique history of its own. The Houw Hoek Hotel (historically the Houw Hoek Inn) was a popular stop over for travellers going from Cape Town to Caledon who would rest before traversing the tricky mountain pass (now the Houw Hoek Pass) with their ox wagons.

The first passenger train passed through Houw Hoek in 1903, and the inn soon became a stopover for the passing train. Passengers would disembark in Houw Hoek for a lunch. However, the old wives’ tale – whether it is true or not – is that the kitchen intentionally served the first course of soup far too hot, making it impossible for diners to finish it and move onto all the remaining courses before the train was due to leave.

Inevitably, their full served lunch had already been paid for but the hotel had no intention of serving it! The first passenger train is said to have passed through Houw Hoek in 1903. The small Anglican church, which serves as a pillar for community members whose families have a history of living and working in Houw Hoek, was built in 1854. In 1856 a small district school was opened on the church grounds and functioned for 143 years until its closing in 1999!

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