Did you know?
You can spot a British import – fallow deer – on many Bedford farms.
The first impression one gets of Bedford in the Eastern Cape is of a big green striped mountain looming over what could – from a distance – easily be an English country village
Indeed, the San (Bushmen) of old used to call these mountains 'Kaga' (‘stripes’, the same name they gave the zebra) and the title stuck. The Kaga Mountain also ensures that Bedford has a more temperate climate and better groundwater than its neighbours because the way it surrounds the village creates a special micro-climate in the area.
It also lies in the middle of a number of eco-systems, including Karoo veld, mountain bushveld, acacia thorn and rolling grasslands.
Bedford’s decidedly British feel is largely due to the influence of the 1820 Settlers’ Pringle Party, who settled and farmed in the nearby Baviaans River Valley. The village was marked off and named Bedford in 1854.
Since then, it has flourished as the cultural centre of the local farming community. When you drive down its quiet, mostly untarred streets, you’ll see that much of the village architecture has been preserved and often renovated.
Just more than 150km from the coast, Bedford has become popular with urban downsizers and retirees looking for somewhere quiet in the country. There’s a craft centre, a furniture factory, a golf course and even an old-fashioned watchmaker who repairs grandfather clocks and fob watches as well as the more current timepieces.
But there’s a more active side to your visit to Bedford as well, in the form of horse riding, hiking trails, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing, bird watching and, in season, hunting.
The highlight of Bedford’s social calendar is the annual Garden Festival in the spring, which brings in rose enthusiasts from all over the world. One of the main gardens on display is on Maasstrom Farm, Bedford’s original founding site.