If you haven’t visited Stanford, then make a date, as it’s one little country town that’s become a firm favourite with visitors to the Overberg. The town centres around Market Square, known to locals as the village green, where monthly markets are held.
It is full of history, and so alive with things to do that you’ll have to work hard at maintaining a balance between time out and exploring. But if you do nothing else, abandon your car at one of many places to stay in the village and do the historical walk on foot – a walk through the old part of the village past no less than 58 homes of historical interest and value, all lovingly restored and lived in …
Stanford things to do for a perfect country weekend
To do the walk you will need to pick up a little booklet at the town’s information tourism office, just across the road from the Stanford Trading Store on Queen Victoria Street. The initial historical blurb is incredibly interesting and well worth a read, but I won’t belabour this article with the whole story, suffice it to say that Stanford is named after Robert Stanford, a man who served as a captain in the British forces in Burma and [link_sa]South Africa[/link_sa], and who initially owned a great deal of the land that is today Stanford.
The fact that he then met with such a spate of bad luck that it reads something like a modern day soapie, is what makes it such interesting reading. The information is sourced from a book known as Stanford Stories II, by SJ du Toit and Stanford 150 – Portrait of a village by Annalize Mouton, a copy of which you can pick up from SJ’s bookshop at De Kleine Riviers Valey House, one of the oldest houses in the Overberg, circa 1785, in Caledon Street (you might want to spend a bit of time browsing the second-hand bookshop at the back, as there are usually a few gems to be had).
The town is flanked on its northern perimeters by the Klein River, along which there is a lovely walking trail, well worth taking, particularly in the late afternoon. There are also a couple of river cruises along these waters, but the walk is extremely pretty and, if you choose the right time of day, filled with the call of birds. Birding in the Overberg is one of the main attractions, and you can hope to see an incredible diversity including a number of sought after endemic birds like the Cape sugarbird, orange-breasted sunbird, and Cape siskin.
Here follow a list of popular activities when in Stanford:
Eat, drink and be merry:
- Madré’s Kitchen – set on the Sir Robert Stanford Wine Estate, this little restaurant is extremely popular and well worth a visit. It is also family-friendly
- Klein River Cheese – just on the outskirts of town, you can either visit to sample cheese, or you can buy a picnic and sit on the banks of the Klein River
- Birkenhead Micro Brewery – set in the Walker Bay Vineyards just outside of town, sample the independent brew and tour learn all about fermentation, malting, mashing and cellaring
- Marianas – one of those gems, set in a little house known as Owls’ Barn – a throwback to when it was a popular holiday cottage – you’ll need to book to experience the country lunches made with ingredients from Mariana’s garden
- graze – fast becoming exceedingly popular with locals and visitors alike, this slow food café serves local, seasonal and freerange food on Fri evenings and Saturdays for breakfast and lunch. Even if you don’t get a seat, make sure you buy a loaf of their pane di mare (see our review here)
- SJ’s Bookshop – part of Sir Robert Stanford’s Home of Crafts and Antiques, which is also worth a visit, this bookshop is full of really excellent books. If it’s a rainy weekend, this is where to stock up
- Spookhuis restaurant – you won’t find a more gorgeous setting for a country café than Mosaic Farm. Great place for a picnic
- Other wineries include Stanford Hills, Brunia Wines, Raka Estate, Springfontein Wine Estate and Boschrivier
A few tips:
- pick up a copy of the Stanford River Talk, the town’s monthly newspaper or their River Talk directory – fun to read
- the local Spar is not particularly well stocked, make sure you pick up all you need from the farmstalls on the N2 en route – Peregrine and Houw Hoek (the Evergrine Farmstall in Stanford might have good muffins and bread, but that’s about all)
- You will need to book ahead, if you want to eat at one of the popular restaurants over a weekend