The Shire

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The Shire is situated about 35km North West of Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape which lies between Queenstown and Cradock. Here there are many “Karoo Mesers” like Mary which is a well established climbing venue. From Tarkastad travel on the Cradock road (R61) for about 18km then turn right towards Hofmeyer (R401). Travel on the R401 until the tar section ends then turn right at a gate and follow the tracks to the farm house. The Shire can be seen up the mountain to the south of the farm. From the farm house a jeep track is taken towards the crag which passes through the farm and up the hill at the base of the crag. The track is quite difficult and a 4x4 is required to complete the last section. A normal bakkie can get to the base of the hill below the crag but then the walk up is quite a bit longer. A route up to the back of the crag looks possible from the adjoining farm but this still needs to be investigated.


There are few places to stay in Tarkastad. There is one rather run down camp site and some B&B’s in town. It would be best to ask Jan Erasmus to allow you to camp on his farm but I am sure he will invite to stay in his house.


The summer months are probably the best time to visit the area as the winter is cold and wet. We found that the crag, being west facing, is nice in the morning and early afternoon. We did not find it too hot either and it can be chilly in the shade even though it is a lot warmer down below.


Only trad routes have been opened on this crag so far but there is plenty of scope for sport routes. The possibility of bolting lines here would first have to be cleared with Jan Erasmus. Personally I would like to see more trad lines opened first before any bolting takes place.


The rock is good quality with many direct lines following corner and crack systems. This is typical of this area where the rock is predominantly Dolerite (iron stone). Because this crag is west facing it tends to have little vegetation but grey lichen occurs on most of the face. As with all trad areas, be careful of loose rock.

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Download the Shire Topo