The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Fort Mistake

Afrikaans name: Fort Mistake

Fort Mistake

Fort Mistake

Photo © Steven Herbert


When driving on the N11 highway between Newcastle and Ladysmith you will notice a small structure perched on top of a hill as you negotiate Mkupe Pass. This is what is known as Fort Mistake. It was proclaimed as a national monument in 1979.

The fort was built by the British after the Battle of Majuba with the purpose of being a signalling station should the peace negotiations, between the British and the Boers, break down.

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Fort Mistake started life as Fort One Tree Hill, although some say it was Fort Mkupe, but at some point, became more commonly known as Fort Mistake but the exact reason for the name change is unknown. The fort was one of a number of signalling posts built during the late 1800's. Other signalling forts included the one at Newcastle, Ngagane, Dannhauser and Sundays River.

Unfortunately, there is no easy access to the fort. If you want a close view you are going to have to leave your car at the settlement at the bottom and hike up the hillside. The location of the fort is one of a series of hills known as the Biggarsberg. The hills got their name from Alexander Biggar who worked with the Boers in their battles with the Zulus. On one trip through these hills his cart overturned during a stream crossing causing much merriment amongst the Boer soldiers with him at the time.

Have you been up to the fort? Is it worth visiting?

References and further reading

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 158

On Route - Explore South Africa region by region - 3rd edition - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 2014 - Page: 251


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