The unrelenting beauty of De Kelders’ coastal wilderness may be a tough act to follow, but a short drive to Stanford Village is an essential destination for anyone exploring this charmed stretch of the Overberg. Where De Kelders natural splendour is nothing but jaw-dropping, Stanford’s easy village life is positively heart-warming.
Stanford Village is best experienced on foot. Walking down Queen Victoria road – the commercial and social centre of the village – you’ll be immediately struck by one of Stanford’s most famed features: its architecture. With its many distinguished historical buildings – some dating back as far as the late 19th Century – and rural Victorian cottages set against the benevolent mountains, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled onto the set of a colonial period drama. But make no mistake, Stanford is no quaint relic.
Saturdays are when Stanford truly shines; when locals – a curious mix of city defectors, retirees and enterprising, creative talent – and out-of-towners alike linger at vibrant meeting points strung along the high street. Whether antique store perusing, morning market milling, or idling unapologetically at the cafes and eateries, you’ll immediately feel part of the neighbourly bonhomie that has had more than a few visitors upping sticks for Stanford after tasting this authentic community life.
The Saturday morning market, hosted under the eaves of the Stanford Hotel, is a recommended starting point for your day. Here you can find the freshest locally grown produce and no shortage of decadent pastries and wholesome artisanal treats. For the best places to sit with a cuppa and watch village life roll by, move on to either Graze Slow Food Café and Yum Eat Café (heck, try them both!), two of the villages’ most buzzing and beloved venues.
Once you’re feeling suitably sated, aim your compass toward the languorous Klein Rivier which runs though Stanford’s very centre. The stunning profusion of birdlife invites you down the wandelpad (walking trail) for a ramble along the riverbank, or maybe you’d sooner flop down, gaze across the water and set your cares adrift. Either way, it’s magical.
Heading back into town, take some time to stroll along the neatly laid lanes and rustic gravel roads for a glimpse of everyday residential life. Here you’ll see barefoot bands of kids romping, skating and bicycling with all the space and safety a child (or parent, for that matter!) could wish for. These quiet, unthreatening streets are one of Stanford’s most treasured assets for families who moved to the country to find a different way of life. In this, beyond the genteel hedges of lavender and cordial rows of poppies, lies the real spirit of Stanford Village.