Sandy's Glen Pass (P1222)

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Tranquil Stanford Tranquil Stanford - Photo: Google Images

This long gravel pass is located along a narrow valley formed by the east-west mountain chain between Standford and Napier in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. It is also sometimes spelled as Sandies Glen Pass. Both versions are used on signage on the pass. The pass takes its name from the farm of the same name. It consists of a long, slow climb from the western side through a number of farms. The steepest gradients of 1:11 occur near the summit. The pass offers a variety of attractive scenery ranging from open meadows to dense stands of eucapyptus to open mountain-scapes.

It connects the tiny hamlet of Papiesvlei in the west with Napier in the east. The road is suitable for all vehicles and is mostly in a reasonable condition. The usual cautionaries for gravel roads apply and as always, conditions can change rapidly after rain. 

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[Video cover photo by Trygve Roberts]

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Digging into the details: 

Getting there: To approach from the western side (the direction which we filmed it), Head east out of Stanford on the tarred R326 for 4,5 km and turn right onto a gravel road at GPS S34.431215 E19.503452. Follow this road eastwards for 10 km till you arrive at a T-Junction at GPS S34.465087 E19.597319. Turn left at the T-junction. The road heads north briefly then turns through a sharp 90 degree turn back into the east. At this turn there is a sign stating that the farm is called Sandie's Glen. Keep left at the fork, which marks the western start of the pass.

Sandys GlenA cottage near Papiesvlei / Photo: Google Images

For those wanting to approach from the east, you can approach from either Bredasdorp/Napier or from Caledon on the tarred R316 by heading west onto the gravel road at GPS S34.413716 E19.809339. remain on this road for 5 km heading westwards to arrive at the eastern end of the pass. 

We filmed this pass from west to east. It starts on its western end at a clearly signposted fork. The first few kilometres traverse cultivated farmland, and manyof the gracious old farm houses with wrap around stoeps can beseen along this section. The gradients are generally quite easy, but there one or two very sharp corners. As this is an active farming area, keep your eyes peeled for livestock on the road as well as slow moving farming vehicles.

As progress is made towards the summit, the road enters dense bluegum plantations where the gradients start picking up considerably and reach their steepest at 1:11. Whilst the heading remains generally into the east, there are nontheless 38 bends, corners and curves to keep drivers honest, but only two reach an angle of close to 90 degrees.

One of the wonderful stories sent in to us by Leonico Erasmus is about a postal rider in the early 1900's going by the nickname of Lewies Wolf. His real name was Louis Swart and he was apparently an exceptionally burly and strong man, but this was counter-balanced by a kind, gentle and patient personality. One day whilst riding along Sandy's Glen, Lewies came upon a group of 8 road workers struggling to move  a large rock off the roadway. Lewies waited patiently as the men struggled in vain to budge the rock. Realising his timetable was rapidly running behind, Lewies asked the men to stand aside and he single-handedly moved the rock off the road. The rock can still be seen today still in the exact same spot. We will supply GPS coordinates as soon as we have them.

Keep your speed on the low side and enjoy the gentle traverse of this long valley with its variety of scenery. Nestled away on the western side of the pass is the traditional village of Stanford.

Overberg guest farmA farm retreat in the valley / Photo: Google Images

The history of Stanford might not be well-known, but it certainly is a colourful albeit sad one. The story of Stanford begins with a man named Robert Stanford. Born in 1806 in the town of Ballina in the county Mayo, Captain Robert Stanford served in the British army. He served with distinction in Burma and later married a general’s daughter. At the age of 32 he resigned his commission and retired on half-pay, after which the Captain and his wife emigrated to the Cape Colony. 

Once settled, they purchased the farm Kleine Riviers Vallei, where the present day Stanford village is located. Stanford was a progressive farmer and soon turned the farm into a thriving enterprise, along with seven other farms he purchased. He also opted not to transport his produce via ox wagon over the mountains, but instead purchased a small ship which sailed to Cape Town from a small cove not 12 miles from his farm.

Sir Robert Stanford wine estateLocal wine named after the founder of Stanford / Photo: Google Images

After the failed Irish rebellion in 1845, the British Government decided to send a number of captured rebels or convicts, as the locals believed, to the British Cape Colony. The colonists would not stand for this however and declared that anyone associated with the ship or its occupants would no longer be supplied with any provisions or services. Thus when the “convict” ship Neptune arrived with the Irish men aboard, just ordinary men, were kept at sea for five months. They were fortunate enough that there were a few that broke the embargo out of their loyalty to the crown and provided them with supplies. 

The provision cease went so far that the Governor approached Robert Stanford, who was still in the employment of Her Majesty. He was given the option of providing supplies or a state of martial law would be declared and the provisions would be taken by force. Duty-bound to comply, Stanford complied to the Governor’s request, but was not seen as a hero in the eyes of the colonists. They regarded his actions as treason and ostracized Stanford and his whole family. Stanford and others who provided help were persecuted, banks refused to do business with them, their children were expelled from school and the servants left the farms. The persecutions continued even when Stanford’s youngest daughter fell ill and the doctor refused to even see her. Tragically this resulted in her death. 

Sir Robert Stanford wine estateSir Robert Stanford Wine Estate / Photo: Google Images

Desperate, the former Captain Stanford travelled to England to plead his case and ask for compensation for his losses. His plea resulted in him being knighted and he received 5000 pounds for his return to the Cape. Upon his arrival he discovered his farms in ruins. The farms had been stripped and some even sold by the people he left in charge. His beloved farm Kleine Riviers Valley was sold for a pittance to a Phillipus de Bruyn at auction. 

Reduced to poverty and defeated by life, Sir Robert Stanford returned to England, where he finally passed away in Manchester at the age of 70. On 30 September 1857, De Bruyn sold the first plot of the new village he decided to call Stanford.

The community of Stanford prides itself on the Cape Victorian and Edwardian styles in which the buildings and houses in the village were built. The picturesque and historic buildings take you back to a time when Stanford was but a farm on the banks of a river, and it is this that the community is keen to protect.

Stanford tranquilityRural tranquility near Stanford / Photo: Google Images

In 1992, this was made binding when the Stanford Conservation Trust was formed. Their main goal is “To enhance the natural and built scenic beauty of Stanford” and “to protect and conserve the environment and heritage resources in and around Stanford for future generations”. The Trust is doing an excellent job as Stanford stands as the 3rd most preserved village in the Western Cape. In keeping with that the Trust also organised and guided the restoration of the St Thomas Anglican Church, the first to be built in Stanford. Furthermore, to keep the atmosphere of the village true to its heritage, the SCT had most of the village proclaimed under Conservation Area A or B in terms of the National Heritage Act, in 1995. This enforces extra responsibilities on property owners in Stanford that build or renovate in the town’s conservation areas.

Stanford is also the only town in the Overstrand proclaimed as a heritage site. Almost 200 different bird species can be found in and around Stanford, of which 30 out of the total 68 species are endemic to South Africa. This might be contributed to the unique Klein River flowing through the village. The River happens to have one of the shortest distance between its origin and mouth.

All in all, the small village with its humble beginnings is a true heritage and natural gem. Staying true to its history, Stanford is a beautiful little town with much to offer. Filled with thrills for the adrenalin junkies, fun and culture for the visitors and a quiet place to settle down.

NapierNapier - another tranquil Overberg village / photo: Google Images

Tucked away at the foot of the Soetmuisberg lies a village whose history can only be described as a quirky mixture of country living and controversy. Woven intricately into the history of the infamous Cape Agulhas, the history of Napier is one you can definitely sink your teeth into. 

Established in 1836, Napier didn't have the easiest of starts. The establishment of the village came about as a result of a dispute between two neighbours which in the end gave birth to the two neighbouring towns of Bredasdorp and Napier.

The dispute came about when Michiel van Breda and Pieter Voltelyn van der Byl couldn’t decide where to build the community church. Van Breda was of the opinion that the church should be built on his farm Langefontein, while Van der Byl believed the church should be built on his property Klipdrift and neither would budge. In the end, the two gentlemen each built a church on their own respective properties and thus the two towns came about. Two years later, the town of Napier was officially named after the then Governor of Cape Town, Sir George Thomas Napier. 

farm stallLinger a while in Napier / Photo: Google Images

With the site of the community church and the name of the town finally established, next on the agenda was the main road. For many years, High Street (Hoog Straat) was the main road of Napier. The plots of High Street used to run all the way down to the area now known as Tamatieskraal, having the houses on High Street and the rest of the plot holding small patches of gardens and/or horses, cows and chickens. The higher main road did however bring with it some hardship for folks travelling through the town with ox wagons and carts to get up the hill to head through the main road. Thus, it was decided to designate the main road to the road below High Street. But now, it was once again up to the town’s people to decide on a name. 

In 1862, while carrying a group of clergy men from Durban to Cape Town for a summit meeting, the famous Waldensian met its untimely end on the treacherous Cape Agulhas reef. The quick response of the captain and crew assured all the boats were lowered and the women and children were helped into boats first. Rumour has it, some of the clergy men even abandoned their robes and donned wigs to disguise themselves as women to be escorted off the ship along with the women and children.

Wheat and canola fields near NapierEscape the city at Napier / Photo: Napier Tourism

The last group of brave men to leave the ship as it was torn apart on the reef included one Sarel Cilliers. After this terrible ordeal, the clergy men were taken to Cape Town by ox wagon and Cilliers spent the night in Napier. Word of his bravery soon spread and the town’s people asked him if the new main road could be named after him. Cilliers later went on to also be one of the well-known reverends to accompany families in the Great Trek (Groot Trek) which started in 1938. Coincidently, Napier also holds an Ox Wagon Monument erected in 1988 to commemorate the Great Trek (Groot Trek) of 1938.

Like the clergy men, in those days most folks preferred to travel by ship rather than by wagon, but the new, more stable and scenic route towards Cape Agulhas was soon being favoured. This route was known as the Postal Coach Route with various stops all along the way, leading you from Cape Town to the southernmost tip of Africa. This route was frequently mentioned in the Union Castle Guide which very eloquently divided those visiting South Africa into four groups, namely Tourists, Settlers, Invalids (those suffering from consumption would flee to South Africa in search of its drier weather) and Sportsmen (or rather Hunters). Napier became a favourite amongst the pit stops as it was the only stop where refreshments were allowed to be had. A spring located where the present day Engen garage can be found, was also the perfect spot for the thirsty oxen and horses to enjoy a cool drink of water.

[History courtesy of Explorio] 

Fact File:


S34.476906 E19.661282


S34.441601 E19.736192


S34.429028 E19.764798














11,7 km




15 minutes


60 kph


Gravel (P1222)






Stanford (24 km)

Route Map:

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Route files:

||Click to download: Sandy's Glen Pass (Note - This is a .kmz file which can be opened in Google earth and most GPS software)


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