Stanford in the Overberg has long been one of my favourite little Cape villages for its heritage buildings, good restaurants and laid-back village markets. On a recent visit we found our new favourite place to stay in the countryside nearby. Here’s why to visit Stanford Valley Guest Farm in Stanford, South Africa.
Stanford is a peaceful little country village so it should be no surprise that the most attractive aspect of Stanford Valley Guest House is its serene country atmosphere. This tranquillity and the views of the Akkedisberg mountains were two of the highlights for me, and I couldn’t help thinking what a perfect location it would be for a meditative retreat or a small wedding.
You'll also find one of the best restaurants in Stanford, The Manor House (see the things to do at Stanford Valley section below for more about the food), some comfy spaces to sit and relax, a glass-doored fireplace for warmth in winter, and a small library with books on one wall and a wine collection demanding to be browsed on another. Think thick wooden beams, reed ceilings, terracotta tiled floors and patterned rugs. Art works lining the walls are a feast for the eyes. There are some sculptures in the gardens too.
Our room was a short walk away from the Manor House, lovely without being over the top. It was decorated in clean tones of white and cream with blue accents and had light wood floors and a reed ceiling for an old-fashioned touch – a comfy space to spend time. There was a desk, mini fridge, coffee/tea station, king size bed and somewhere to hang your clothes and park your suitcase. There was even a small wood burning stove with glass door and chimney (wood supplied) though in November it was sadly too warm to use it.
- Explore the 440ha working farm. You’ll find a vineyard, a horse paddock with beautiful horses, some of them palominos, and 250ha of the farm is part of a nature conservancy blanketed in Cape fynbos. The star here is the rare Erica Shannonea with its white flowers. It grows only on the lower slopes of the Klein River mountains from Stanford eastwards and along the mountains between Napier and Bredasdorp.
- Whatever you do, don’t miss having a meal at Stanford Valley’s Manor House restaurant, which looks out over rolling lawns, a pond and horse paddock towards the Akkedisberg in the distance. We booked for dinner one evening and were so glad we did. We loved the fresh linefish with caper cream, served with crushed potatoes, green beans and baby broccoli and given a special touch with a piquant lemon peel curd. It was deliciously subtle and beautifully presented. For dessert, we had moskonfyt crème brûlée with honeycomb, the custard just the right creamy wobbliness and the topping the perfect thickness and crackle. Thanks to chef Janine van der Nest and her kitchen staff, it was the best meal I’ve ever had on numerous visits to Stanford. Other options on a menu of locally sourced foods included fillet, lamb and pork belly. (Note: you don’t have stay at Stanford Valley to enjoy the restaurant but you do need to prebook.)
- Take a walk up to the farm dam on a hill above the main werf. It’s a perfect spot for a cooling swim in summer, to catch some sun on the jetty or relax at one of the picnic tables under the trees, surrounded by fynbos and views of the Akkedisberg.
- Order a delicious picnic basket from Stanford Valley’s kitchen. They’ll give you a picnic blanket too. Enjoy your picnic under the oak trees on the lawns, up at the dam or anywhere else on the farm that strikes your fancy.
- If you’ve brought your mountain bike with you, you won’t be able to resist riding along the jeep tracks on the farm or exploring some of the specially built mountain bike trails that thread their way into the hills.
- Put on your walking boots and go hiking into the mountains to admire the fynbos and enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding farms. If you’re a keen birder, don’t forget to take your binos too.
- Take a walk around the main werf to enjoy the gardens with their shady trees, lavender bushes, roses, plumbago and agapanthus. Admire the structural elements near the Manor House, from sculptures, stone walls and water features to the raised herb garden with its heady aromas. I enjoyed the sculpture of a man crawling out of the mud of the pond.
- Take time to simply relax on your porch with a glass of something cool and a good book, or listen to the chattering of the birds and the buzzing of bees while you drink in the clean country air, the soaring views of mountains.
There are lots of things to do in Stanford just a hop, skip and jump away. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Klein River, go wine tasting at wine farms in the area, craft beer tasting at Birkenhead Brewery, cheese tasting at Klein River Cheese, or treat yourself to lunch at one of a clutch of good restaurants in and around Stanford. Find out more things to do in Stanford.
In the wider area but just a short drive away you can go land-based whale watching in Hermanus, exploring a cave at De Kelders, and shark cage diving or boat-based whale watching in Gansbaai. Find out more things to do in Gansbaai.
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Things to do in Hermanus on the Cape Whale Coast
Platbos indigenous forest in the Overberg
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