Eastern Cape DestinationsBedford, Amatola
Just west off the N10 between Cradock and Cookhouse lies the settler town of Bedford on the southern edge of the Winterberg mountain range. It lies in what is termed the smaldeel, probably Dutch for 'small section' as it refers to a rather narrow strip of particularly sweet grasses that runs from Fort Beaufort to Somerset East. This burst of colour and ripe vegetation lies just outside of the Karoo not even two hours' from Port Elizabeth.
Bedford, like a number of 'rural' towns in South Africa, has but one tarred road. It is wide, tree lined and dotted with gorgeous examples of Victorian style cottages. Even the Standard Bank gets to nestle in a particularly pretty stone building. Views from the town are breathtaking surrounded as the town is by the Kaga Mountain. What you might not know is that, as a result, Bedford has something of a microclimate all its own. It also has access to its own source of water from the mountain, so gardens (give or take a drought or two) are usually spectacular.
It is no surprise to learn either that the local art gallery is hard at work promoting local artists, who have chosen to settle here. The churches alone are worth a stop for, their architecture a real draw card (particularly the Dutch Reformed and Anglican churches). Rich in history there is plenty in Bedford to learn here about the 1820 Settlers and the Afrikaans trekboers.
Bedford is also part of the new Heritage Rose Route. Behind this lies a story that includes Heather Leppan, a resident of Bedford and a heritage rose fan, whose idea it is to get as many households as possible in the towns of the Eastern Cape to grow heritage roses. At the moment the route includes Bedford and Adelaide, and the intention is to draw international visitors to the area. Make sure you try and visit the South African Heritage Rose Garden whilst in Bedford.