John Browns Tomb

Sunday 3 December 2022

Five of us started off from farmer Peter's driveway on a cloudy, rather cool day, ascending a farm track that wound up the hill towards John Browns Tomb. The ‘tomb’ became pretty obvious as we approached—a large limestone outcrop right on top of the hill. It seems that it is so-named after the large rock at the site of the real ‘John Brown’ tomb at Lake Placid in New York. After a break at the landmark we tried to follow the route the farmer had marked on the map to descend towards Napenape Reserve.

The route marked by the farmer crossed some escarpments to meet with the reserve track but we struggled to identify where the marked track was meant to be, amid steep ravines and dense bush. We followed a track up-hill again after avoiding some cattle but that track led away from the reserve, rather than into it. Retracing our steps, we followed down the ridge to take an alternative, better route. Nearer the coast we came upon a large three-bay barn/garage and a road leading from it which took us through pleasant bush, down to the beach at Napenape.

By then the sun was out and the deep blue sea and white limestone cliffs were inviting. Lunch was eaten in the shade of a tree on the beach as we watched a seal playing in the surf. John nobly volunteered to start walking the 10km back to the car, along the road. We followed along after lunch and had walked for almost an hour when John appeared in the car. He had hitched a lift part-way to the car, so saved us from a longer walk. The time saved allowed us to stop for milk-shakes at Greta Valley Café on the way home. So now you know, John Brown’s body isn’t mouldering in the grave anywhere near North Canterbury.

‘Tomb’ visitors were: Graeme Nicholas (Leader), Eileen Mackie, Sonya Donaldson, Stuart Payne and John Robinson. [GN]

Four fine upstanding live bodies pay homage at the last resting place of countless marine creatures