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Mt Winterslow (almost)

It’s been a few years since I have set foot on the flanks of Mt Winterslow, but time passes quickly and it’s always good to get a different perspective. A number of years ago, I was still a new member of the local tramping club and eager to experience my big new back yard of Mid Canterbury. The club had arranged for a long weekend trip, based at Three Creeks Hut on Mt Winterslow Station. Our first day was to climb to the top of Mt Winterslow from Three Creeks Hut. This is very much the direct route to the top, and not many options for respite from the unending climb.

On this occasion, however, I am now a seasoned member of the tramping club, and this club trip took us from Dukes Knob, going the long way round to the top.

Our group of 9 hardy trampers met at the Sharplin Falls car park just in from the village of Staveley, Mid Canterbury. We set of at 8.00am in high spirits and eager for the journey ahead. In just under an hour we had reached the top of Dukes Knob, and had our first amazing glimpses of the snow topped Mt Winterslow and Mt Somers, along with clear cloudless skies.

From Dukes Knob, there is an unmarked track that diverts off to the right of the main track. ‘Dons Track’ takes you to the bush edge and further on to summit of Mt Winterslow. Before taking this track though you do need to seek permission from the land owner as it is not Department of Conservation land.

The track sidles, climbs, drops and climbs several times before reaching the bush edge. Passing thorough stands of mature and young beech trees and, what sometimes feels like a goblin forest right from the pages of a novel. There are many opportunities to catch glimpses of the Canterbury Plains and the flanks of Mt Winterslow.

At the bush edge, the view really opens out and there is a great panorama from the top of Mt Somers the well-worn track of the Mt Somers Circuit, Pony Knob, Mt Winterslow and out to sea across the plains. From here there is a brief, but rather steep, scrubby section to climb before gaining the friendly graded ridge that curves around in a large ‘s’ shape, eventually reaching the top of Mt Winterslow.

On this trip, we didn’t make it to the top, we made it as far as a rocky outcrop at Pt1500. Where we bathed in the sunshine and soaked in the views. Eventually we decided that it was time to move on, the weather had begun to turn, the clouds were rolling in and the temperature was dropping.

Down we went, retracing our steps all the way back to the main track at Dukes Knob. From here it was only a brief 20 minute descent back to the car park. All up we had an 8 hour day in the hills, it didn’t matter that we didn’t make the top, some of us have been to there be

fore, and for others now they have a reason to go back.