The area around Pennington was once a farm called Mount Albert, belonging to the Pennington family, settlers from England who began farming here in the late 1800s after Richard Pennington’s wagon-making business failed due to the rinderpest.
Part of the farm was later sold to Sir Frank Reynolds, a Natal sugar baron, who called it Umdoni Park and built a holiday home on it. An ardent admirer and supporter of General Louis Botha, Reynolds then built a lavish house on the grounds for the exclusive use of the prime ministers of the republic, beginning with and named after Botha. This residence still stands, although it is now a popular guest house and wedding venue.
These days Pennington is a peaceful and gentle village, its official status as a fishing village protecting it from overzealous developers. Umdoni Park remains and is open to the public, thanks to a trust set up by the Reynolds family.
Tales of old recall the wildness of the area, and Pennington himself was once attacked and mauled by a leopard he had wounded while hunting. Some say he died from his wounds, while others maintain he lived to a ripe old age. Just down the road is Sezela, named after a giant man-eating crocodile that lived in the river until it was killed by Zulu King Shaka’s impis.
Beautiful beaches are popular with walkers, as are the trails through Umdoni Park. Spectacular golf courses abound in the area, while there is good snorkelling and cray-fishing to be had off the rocky points in the area.
Look out for
The People’s Community Centre is a charming little shop that showcases the talents of local craftspeople. Pop in and pick up souvenirs for the folks back home, or mementos of your holiday.
Golf is a major attraction in the area and Selborne Country Club and Golf Course is one of the best courses in the country. It also offers spa facilities, fine dining and accommodation. The Umdoni Golf Course is also highly regarded and golfers play with views of the Indian Ocean just beyond the fairways.
The beautiful old mansions, Botha House and Lynton Hall, have both been turned into guest houses and it is definitely worth spending a night in one of them, or even both.
Enjoy the legacy of the Reynolds family and walk the trails of Umdoni Park, enjoying the bountiful bird, animal and butterfly life in beautiful forests with lovely views.
The Impithi Beach Kiosk is a little slice of yesteryear, offering traditional roasts on Sunday and a range of light meals on other days. It overlooks the main swimming beach and is open for breakfasts, lunches or just a cup of tea.