No mention of Montagu is of course complete without a mention of the world-famous Montagu Springs.
It is practically impossible to ascertain the exact date of the discovery of Montagu’s hot mineral spring, but the manner of their discovery is as follows: In the very early days trekkers often followed the course of rivers, and, according to our archives, the wagon on one such nameless pioneer became stuck in the rocks of the river bed. In his efforts to free the wheels, the trekker’s hand was so badly injured that his party was obliged to pitch camp in the vicinity of the present-day Montagu. They drank of the clear, strange-flavored water, found it wonderfully refreshing and traced its course through the Kloof where they discovered the hot spring. The injured hand, bathed frequently in the warm water, healed miraculously. News of the healing water was soon spread by word of mouth and as a result the sick and ailing visited the hot spring, sometimes from as far afield as 50 miles, which was a considerable distance to travel in those days.
The now-popular Montagu bath were originally part of the farm “Uitvlucht” but were sold for the first time in 1857, and have since been in the hands of various hands and bodies. At one time the property belonged to the old NCCR (New Cape Central Railways), also to Mr Jannie Marais, the benefactor of Stellenbosch University. Other owners were a Mr Fernandes (from Madeira) who gave the whole complex an exotic and literally colorful character. Mr Hugh Tevis, Australian millionaire, intended building a large imposing spa but wartime restrictions (1939 - 1945) dictated otherwise and he settled for building only “Little Sanctuary” as a holiday home. A Montagu hotelier, Mr Aaron Idelson followed, and the Montagu Municipality then took over, and the caravan park and public swimming pool were subsequently constructed.
On the 25th of January 1981, disaster struck Montagu in the form of a flood which swept away the entire Baths complex, stripped the Kloof of all vegetation (excepting 1 tree) and altered the course of the Keisie River to such an extent that the beautiful walking trail through the Kloof was completely obliterated and Lover’s Walk destroyed. However, the Municipality investigated all venues until a developer was found who gave Montagu Springs its present new look, and reconstruction of the Hotel had already been commenced by a local hotelier.
Lover’s Walk has been painstakingly been built up and spacious lawns now fringe the walk that, like before passes the beautiful cliffs, leads past Eyssen House (the Ou Meul) and through the Baths Kloof to the hot springs. Many trees have been planted, and the enchanting beauty of the most charming walk can once again be enjoyed.
The luxurious new Springs Hotel attracts hosts of tourists, including many from overseas and all are fascinated by the exquisite setting and most impressive beauty of the whole Baths project.