Thursday, 5 January 2012

Leg 8 Alexandra to Middlemarch Description

Another long leg but without the big push uphill, Leg 8 takes you deep into Middle Earth and the Land of Rohan (known as Poolburn to the locals).

Leaving Alexandra you hop onto the Central Otago Rail Trail for the second time (you will cover most of the rail trail by the time you finish your Brevet, but it will be in 3 sections).

Central Otago Rail Trail
This section of Rail Trail will be short and flat as you head to Galloway. The Galloway Road runs parallel to the Rail Trail and you need to hop off the Rail Trail at Crawford Hills Road. A gentle climb takes you up over Crawford Hills and into Moa Creek.

Looking back down Crawford Hills Road
Hop onto Aston Road and head towards Bonspiel Station and the start of the Old Dunstan Road.

The Old Dunstan Road is the original route miners of the 1862/1863 Dunstan gold rush took from Dunedin to Dunstan, (today Clyde).  The road is broken into two sections, the first rises to Poolburn and crosses Rough Ridge into Styx (love it, cause thats what it feels like!). The second section takes you over the Rock and Pillar Range to Middlemarch.

The Land of Rohan
For filming the Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson had the original fishing huts at Poolburn Reservoir covered to look like Middle Earth huts. Unfortunately you will find them back to their original tin hut condition for this visit.

Poolburn Dam
The road below the Poolburn Dam is a little tricky to navigate as it is less used and many 4WD tracks cross it. Best done in daylight and with a detail map.

The second section of the Old Dunstan Road takes you high up onto the Rock and Pillar Range and pass the grandiose named Great Moss Swamp. When dry the road is an easy ride but the area is prone to snow even in mid summer (my first ride through was in 6 inches of snow the day after New Years!).

You drop off the Rock and Pillar Range into Rocklands Station. Hang a left off the Old Dunstan Road here and onto Rocklands Road. Although it looks like you are entering Rocklands Station, the road is a public road that passes through the station yards.

Continue to State Highway 87 and head to Sutton. A short dog leg off the main road onto Garthmyl Road takes you away from traffic and straight to Middlemarch.

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