WORDS: KIT HEATHCOCK | IMAGES: NATASHA LASSEN, SHUTTERSTOCK & GOOGLE MAPS
The original small town against the Helderberg mountains has been blanketed in a cocoon of gated estates that have proliferated in response to a huge demand for secure country living in such a beautiful setting and a lifestyle that is second to none. Migrants from elsewhere in South Africa and “swallows” escaping European winters are attracted by the views, excellent golf, Winelands fine dining, the beach close by at Strand, and easy access up the N2 to the international airport and Cape Town itself. “It’s really convenient being on the edge of the metropolis,” says resident Sam Parsons, “it’s still much quieter than Cape Town and it’s easy to get right away from the city.”
Despite the development, the town still thinks of itself as being in the country. The green fields grazed by cows adjoining the town that Sam remembers from twenty years ago, may now have been built over, but she loves how close to nature it still is. The wild mountainsides above the wine estates have porcupine, caracal, and even leopard recorded on trail cameras. The Helderberg Nature Reserve sweeps right down into the town bringing nature to their doorstep. “We spend a lot of time in the reserve walking with our dogs; it’s fantastic to have that facility so close. It feels quite safe and there’s beautiful fynbos and bird life.”
From prestigious Spanish Farm with its villas and family homes on secluded mountainside plots with panoramic mountain views, comfortable family homes in the popular school catchment areas around Beaumont and Parel Vallei, to apartments and smaller homes below the high street, the original town has a wide range of properties and price points.
Secure gated estates and lifestyle developments spread outward from the town centre filling in any gaps – from Boskloof Eco Estate and the Olive Grove estates close to the wine estates, to Acorn Creek and De Velde development and newer developments alongside the N2, such as Sitari and Somerset Lakes, and retirement developments such as The Somerset and Helderberg Manor, there’s something for every stage of life.
Mzuri Estate recently announced construction of the Cape’s first self-sufficient lifestyle estate managing its own water requirements.
Excellent government schools such as Beaumont Primary, De Hoop and Parel Vallei High have long been the pride of the town and the mainstay of family life here. Nowadays the demand is so high that it’s essential to live in the catchment area and enrol early to get a place. The renowned high schools of Stellenbosch are popular alternatives. A new Reddam House at Somerset Lakes and a Curro at Sitari recently opened, and other private options include Somerset College and Newberry House Montessori School located on Lourensford Estate.
Weekend relaxation looks to the big outdoors with mountain hikes and adventure sports, beach and watersports at Strand, golf in one of several excellent clubs, and sports fields and dog-walking by the river in Radloff Park.
Foodies are in their element with Somerset West being home to The Restaurant at Waterkloof, named SA’s Best Restaurant at the Eat Out Awards 2018, and Camphors at Vergelegen, also in the top 10, plus an inspiring choice of several more top restaurants a short Uber ride away in the surrounding Winelands, and Stellenbosch and Franschhoek within easy driving distance.
The wine estates within in the town have plenty more to offer: Lourensford’s family-oriented market on Friday evening and Sundays, Vergelegen’s much-loved camphor trees and lavender gardens surrounding the Stables restaurant, and Morgenster’s olive oil and wine tastings. These are all part of the rich backdrop of local life offering yet more beautiful settings for sundowners and picnics in a town that already has so many beauty spots to choose from.
Being an outdoor person I love being surrounded by mountains and having Helderberg Nature Reserve with its beautiful fynbos on our doorstep. We enjoy long walks on Strand beach, exploring the coast from Gordons Bay to Pringle Bay.
FRAN SMITH, RESIDENT
- Bright Street and Chelsea Village: boutiques, decor and cafes
- Somerset Mall: 4km of retail therapy
- Waterstone Village: flagship Woolworths Food
- Lourensford Market on Fridays and Sundays: artisan foods and crafts
- The Restaurant at Waterkloof: impeccable fine dining
- Camphors at Vergelegen: contemporary fine dining
- Stables at Vergelegen: family-friendly lunches
- Restaurant Seven: George Jardine’s relaxed bistro-style eatery on Drama Street
- Schoon: artisan breads and light meals
- Giuseppe’s: wood-fired pizzas
- Helderberg Nature Reserve: hikes, picnics, fynbos and summer concerts
- Radloff Park: sports clubs and riverside dog-walks
- Wine-tasting at Morgenster, Vergelegen and Lourensford
- Beach and watersports at Strand
- The Playhouse Theatre for amateur theatrical performances and concerts
- Golf at Erinvale or Somerset West golf clubs
It’s easy to see why more and more locals and foreigners call Somerset West their home. The Helderberg region boasts some of the country’s fi nest real estate due to its unmatched lifestyle, picturesque surroundings, and easy access to and from the region. Located just off Strand beach, one is spoilt with an array of outdoor activities. Travelling to Cape Town with the business train appeals to those pursuing a country lifestyle and a city career.
Gabriel Da Matta, Property Executive
082 552 5798