I’ve spent the better part of my life in the Natal Midlands. You could argue that I’m a little biased when I tell you that it’s one of the best places South Africa has to offer. But I’m sure you’d find yourself agreeing with me once you’ve taken the time to explore it.
Nestled in the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Midlands spans from somewhere near Nottingham Road, all the way down to a spot near Hilton. It encompasses everything from expansive farmlands, breath-taking views, and quaint shops. Join me on a journey down the Midlands Meander.
Good coffee is something I’ve only really come to appreciate recently. Thankfully, this appreciation has been well timed with the opening of a few gems in the Midlands. Interestingly, each of these spaces is so unique. The only thing they really share is that they produce top notch coffee that will undoubtedly leave a smile on your face.
Terbodore Coffee Roasters on the Curry’s Post Road is probably the first place I actually experienced a true cup of coffee. Their commitment to find the perfect cup is evident in every cup of coffee. Their passion bubbles over to anyone who walks through their doors. My favourite part about this entire space is their love for their Great Dane who not only is represented in their logo, but still shares in the coffee roasting process.
The Barn Owl Coffee is the latest edition to the Midlands Coffee Family, having opened its doors for the first time this year. It’s prime location at Ground Cover makes for a uniquely sophisticated charm, while still feeling like you’re out on a farm.
Ground Coffee House is Hilton’s first (and possibly only) co-working space. It’s a space that welcomes not only freelancers but also dog walkers out on their morning stroll. If you’re like me and you enjoy learning more about the coffee you’re drinking, I’d recommend chatting to John and Sarah about the different beans they offer. Their knowledge of coffee is amazing, and will definitely add to your coffee experience. With a solid WiFi connection, comfy couches, and delicious coffee, there are so many reasons to visit this spot.
Honestly, there is nothing more alluring than the smell of new leather. It reminds me of traveling, and sparks something inside of me that I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on just yet.
My love of fine leather first started when I stepped into Ground Cover as a kid. There was something magical about their creaking wooden floors, and coloured leathers. Their product quality is unrivalled – when you invest in their products, you know that you’ll have something that will last you for years to come.
Tsonga is a brand that is making its way around the world, with stores opening around South Africa, as well as in Australia and France. Each shoe and bag is handstitched by Lidgetton locals, and is worth every cent. My Gran can often be found raving about their products, which says a lot coming from an incredibly trendy 80-something year old.
Every adventure needs a little something for you to take home and remember it by. I’m a big fan of finding something unique to an area, and something that’ll put a smile on your face when you see it.
Spiral Blue is a place I make sure I visit at least once every time I’m down in the Midlands. It certainly is a unique spot, and it offers something that you won’t find anywhere else on the Midlands. The tranquil space boasts an incredible range of sterling silver jewellery, as well as clothing and accessories from around the world. Spiral Blue is one of the few places I’ve been to that sell silver studs individually, allowing you to pick and choose your own earring sets as you feel. If you do stop here, make sure you take a moment to ask about their chameleons – definitely a hidden treat!
Unfortunately I must admit that I haven’t yet had a chance to explore The Platform. I’ve driven passed it on numerous occasions, never having time to give it the attention it deserves. It is a space for local craftsmen to showcase their work, and homes everything from bronze sculptures to bespoke furniture. I’d definitely recommend checking it out because from what I’ve seen, it’s incredible.
If your adventures through the Midlands give you nothing else, you will be guaranteed a tonne of beautiful views. These seem to pop up in the most unsuspecting places, and leave you with a sense of wander.
One of my favourite breakfast views is the one from Blueberry Café. The glass walls allow you to soak in the rolling hills of Nottingham Road, and give you a chance to fully relax. Honestly, I spend most of my time there just looking out at the view. It’s that pretty.
Farmer’s Daughter is a spot that has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. It’s new home in Howick boasts an incredible view down the Umgeni Valley. Just make sure you give yourself extra time to enjoy it. While this view is nothing short of spectacular and deserves some extra time, I have found the service at the restaurant to be a little on the slow side of late.
Even if you don’t have time to stop anywhere along the way, the road itself from Michaelhouse to Piggly Wiggly offers some picture perfect views. Winding roads that hug the hill sides pass through plantations, alongside waterfalls, and over train tracks. Take a slow drive, and take in all that the Midlands has to offer.
Whether you’re toddling along with your pram, or exploring with your fiancé on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll be sure to find a place worth checking out.
I’m always looking for new places to try, especially in my home town. What’s your favourite spot on the Midlands? Pop it in a comment and let me know!