About Ladismith

Ladismith is situated in the Karoo, in the Western Cape, South Africa. Show on Map

Western Cape DestinationsLadismith, Karoo

The little town of Ladismith, not to be confused with the Natalian version of Ladysmith, lies in the shadow of the Towerkop Mountain peak on Route 62, 300 km from Cape Town in the Karoo.

The pretty town of Ladismith is unique in a number of senses, not least of which is its unique ‘Ladismith’ style of architecture that has evolved from the hotchpotch mixture of several styles including Victorian, Neo-gothic, Edwardian, Cape Dutch Revival, Regency and Rural (that’s Karoo rural!).

Ladismith is essentially a prosperous farming community producing fruit (grapes, a third of South Africa’s apricots, and plums), milk, wine, flowers and mutton. The town has two cheese factories - Parmalat and Ladismith Cheese - and the Ladismith Wine Cellar is open for cellar tours and wine tasting during the week.

Ladismith takes her name from a woman with great fortitude. Young Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon became the 14-year old bride of Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith in the early 1800s - thereafter known simply as ‘Mrs Henry Smith’ or Lady Smith. A childless couple, their devotion to one another is legendary. Juana often set up camp close to battle scenes in a bid to remain close to her husband - they so hated being apart.

Two other legends dominate the history of the town. The peak of the ‘magic mountain’ or Towerkop, which looms over the town, is said to have been struck by a witch in anger because it blocked her way over the mountain. The result was a deep split at the top of the mountain, producing two perfect halves.

Towerkop is just one of the nearby peaks that make this area a nature lover and hiker’s delight. You can grace the split peak in a day, if you’re fit, or you can attempt the Elandsberg hiking trail, a 12 km route to Stanley’s light, which brings us to the final delightful myth of Ladismith. Stanley de Wit took upon himself in 1963 to tackle the Elandsberg Mountains with 200 metres of plastic pipe, a spray nozzle, bicycle dynamo, a 6-volt bicycle light and the tools to help him, after his climb of three-and-a-half hours, to set up his light in the path of a mountain stream, the force of which turns the dynamo and keeps the light burning both day and night. Local farmers will easily know when water is scarce.

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