The Midlands Meander is well known as an arts and crafts route and Piggly Wiggly has become a centre that many people like to visit on their journey through this beautiful countryside area. Piggly Wiggly also is the trailhead for a trails network that’s somewhat in the shadow of the Karkloof Trails not far away. Here’s how Piggly Wiggly is making its way into the spotlight with the support of Sappi.
Paid partnership with Sappi
Conveniently situated on the R103 (1.5 hrs from DBN and 5 hrs from JHB) on the property of Highgate Wine Estate, Piggly Wiggly affords visitors a unique open air experience through a number of great shops, eateries and activities such as the popular miniature steam train and reptile park. Given that Sappi’s Lions River plantations exist opposite the Centre, it seems only natural that a trail network should be developed to provide an extension to the range of activities on offer but also because Piggly Wiggly would be able to provide a safe place to park, have a coffee or meal and soak up some Midlands goodness.
A number of organisations have tried to develop trails in these forests over the years including Big Wheel Cycles and the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. They have to an extent been successful but the trails needed someone to champion their development and to invest in the vision that this could one day become a Top MTB Trail. Enter 22 year old ex professional Chiara Contomathios who could see this potential.
The Contomathios’s journey began at the Karkloof Country Club where they developed a bike rental and retail store specializing in E-bikes in partnership with the Club. This shop has been flourishing and as Chiara states, ‘’Since opening shop at Karkloof, I have worked very closely with the management team and gained a lot of experience and knowledge about cyclist/runners wants and needs through working at numerous cycling/running events.’’
Chiara’s philosophy in life is based on long term business relationships and customer service. She felt there was an enormous opportunity to open a bike shop and trailhead at Piggly Wiggly and has signed a 5-year lease with the centre to run the bike shop and rentals. She took over the management of the previously named Nelson Mandela Capture Site Trails, now named the Piggly Wiggly Trails from Richard Beddow who laid a solid foundation.
Chiara recounts, ‘’When Richard approached me to ask if I would be interested in managing the trails, I thought it would be a golden opportunity for us to turn the trails into some of the best in SA. I was also happy to take over the staff and the management of the trails and hire more staff as guides for tourists.’’
She has helped Thami Kunene not only continue to find employment as a trail builder but also to set up a guiding business which is steadily gaining traction. Thami and Mtlatsi are the team that build and maintain the trails and the guys have recently made some exciting upgrades to the network. “With all the upgrades taking place we’ve temporarily hired two additional local community members as well as a permanent trailhead Manager. We believe that we have made a good start towards achieving our goal but we’re still miles away from reaching our full potential for the trails and helping the community.”
The young adventure tourism and retail entrepreneur also has plans to host a mountain biking and trail running event in the coming year. The aim being to attract more trail lovers and to create a high impact marketing opportunity for the Piggly Wiggly trails. One of her main objectives is to give back to the community by including members of the nearby townships in these events and future plans she is shaping. She has already engaged with members of the Lions River and Lidgeton communities in this respect.
Piggly Wiggly Trail Network – Fast Facts:
- 5km, 9km, 15km,20km, 30km well-marked and graded trails
- Bike Shop with accessories and equipment for rides
- Wide range of our very own DAC cycling apparel
- E-bike sales
- Annual Membership for trail access
- Safe parking in front of the shop
- eBike and standard MTB rentals
- Guided Bike Tours through Ride The Midlands with Thami (073 790 4816)
- Bike wash
- All the other shops, eateries and activities at the Centre
Contact and social media Information
Tel- 073 571 6044
Facebook- Piggly Wiggly Bike Shop