The town is named after a woman called Juana Maria de los Delores de Leon, thankfully more simply known as Lady Smith because of her marriage to Sir Harry Smith, the governor of the Cape at the time.
The town has a picturesque setting beneath the imposing peaks of the Klein Swartberge that form an impressive backdrop to the neat tree-lined streets and houses built in an interesting mix of architectural styles. The mountain range incorporates some of the highest peaks in the Western Cape with Towerkop, at almost 2 200 metres, being the town’s main icon. Ladismith is well known for two reasons, its cheese manufacturers and its wine cellar.
Over and above the factory of mass dairy producer, Parmalat, the Ladismith cheese factory produces a range of good cheeses that are sold in many shops and supermarkets in the Western Cape.
Then there’s the Ladismith wine cellar which, together with the Barrydale Cellar in the neighbouring town of Barrydale, joined forces in 2005 under the umbrella of Southern Cape Vineyards.
Their range includes White Muscadel and Hanepoot as well as Ruby Cabernet and Viognier.
What better place to enjoy the delicacies of these producers than reclining on a stoep with a view of the mountains and watching the last of the sun’s rays colour the slopes?
Look out for
Wine tasting and sales - Ladismith Wine Cellar.
Mountains mean hiking trails and there a number here, ranging from the Towersig routes of between 2km and 12km, taking 1 to 4 hours; to the tough 12.2km Elandsberg route that rises 792m in altitude and takes 5 to 8 hours to complete.
For a scenic drive head for the nearby fruit producing Hoeko Valley. Its claim to fame is that C.J. Langenhoven, who wrote Die Stem, was born here.
Pick up a leaflet on the architecture and a street map and take a walking tour. Amongst the varied building styles is the town’s own vernacular architecture - the ‘Ladismith style’.
Anysberg Nature Reserve - 80km west of Ladismith, this isolated reserve has 180 bird species and offers 2-day horse trails.