A South African Ghost Story – Pilgrims Rest

Part 2

This is the second installment of our ghost tour we did in Pilgrims Rest last year. I recommend you read the first installment before you read this one. https://daniellehattingh.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/a-south-african-ghost-story-pilgrims-rest/

After we had visited the Alanglade house museum we headed back into the small town of Pilgrims Rest and up towards the old cemetery. By this time it was quite dark already so excuse the quality of some of the photographs.

As you drive up to the gates at the cemetery we were welcomed with old brown sherry for the cold and a lantern each to help navigate in the dark. Before we got to to inside the guide informed us about the history of the cemetery, while we downed our sherry for the dutch courage and its at this point things turn a little strange.

While we were standing there, just before we were about to enter I took some pictures of the gates to the Cemetery. I was standing just to side of the guide and as I was checking that my photos were coming out alright, I stopped at this photo. It took me awhile before I realized what I was looking at and I was speechless.

This picture above is the actual photo taken. It was so unreal that while my camera made the rounds, so that the guide and my fiance could gasp in disbelief, I actually looked up to see if I had captured some kind of inverted image of the moon (impossible I know) but I just didn’t want to accept that this was and is in fact an orb. The guide told us this is one of the best pictures she had seen on one of her tours. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get inside.

Armed with our dutch courage and lanterns in we went.

What is really amazing is that these tomb stones are so dull looking during the day but at night they light up and all you can see are these illuminating stones in the patches of dark. We started at the bottom where the oldest graves are and made our way up the hill. We stopped at a few of them so the guide could inform us of the details of that particular person.

As we walked around and looked at the graves I got the strangest feeling.

At this grave the guide stopped to tell us a long story about this person, none of which I can actually remember because where I am standing here in this picture, staring out into the dark, something caught my eye. First I just stood there and waited, as I managed to take another breath I nudged my fiance, who is listening intently to what the guide is saying. “did you see that?” I asked him. At first he said nothing, then “that? , what is that?” he whispered. Now I know that I am not the only one that saw what I saw. Our first instinct was that there is someone else in here who is obviously playing along to scare us or to rob us. I really thought we were going to be mobbed, it never occurred to me that it could be anything else. We are now all staring into the night hoping, or for some not hoping to catch another glimpse…. too scared to even breathe, the image/figure flashed before us in the distance again, the guide stepped back and I asked her “are we alone in here?” in a very surprised tone she nervously laughed and said “yes”. I cannot describe what I saw only that it was half a figure, from the waist up, it was white in colour and large. All I could make of it were a head and shoulders shape and that “it” moved very quickly. We stood there for what seemed forever and finally the guide broke the silence and said, “this is the most activity I have had on my tour, the ghosts obviously like you two”. My fiance is beyond scared at this point and I am just shaking my head in disbelief. We were about 20 meters away and like I said the graveyard is built on a stony hill at quite a steep incline, the figure moved between two trees and then quickly down the side of the graveyard. It couldn’t be a person because as it descended down the slope of the graveyard it never followed the decline, in other words the head and shoulders remained at the same height the entire time, then… it was gone.

I am still in absolute disbelief and couldn’t wrap my mind around what had just occurred. After we had discussed the event, I asked if we could venture further into the cemetery and the guide very promptly informed us that we were welcome to go further but that she had had enough for one night and wouldn’t go in further. She wouldn’t even take us to the robbers grave which is the one everyone comes to see. The tour just ended there.

By this time I think we had all had enough and so we left a little confused but satisfied with our “ghost tour” we headed back to town center and said our goodbyes.

My fiance and I decided we would stop at the old church bar (Royal Hotel) for the customary drink to help settle the nerves.

We looked at each other still quite shaky from our experience, I asked the barman where the toilets were and my fiance went with as it is quite a far from the bar. We walked hand in hand to the bathrooms he went in the gents and I went into the ladies. I wish I had taken a picture of the bathroom, as all things in Pilgrims rest it is old and quaint. I stood there for about 5 minutes staring at myself in the mirror, then turned around to go into the cubicle. I have a fear of being locked in a cubicle so I checked all the doors to ensure they all open. Once I was happy with that (ha ha) I closed the door, as I went to undo my jeans I actually thought, “wouldn’t it be funny if there really was a ghost in here with me” as I sat…… the lights tripped!

Momentary freak out, but I remembered that if you panic, things only become worse. In the calmest manner I could fashion at this stage I fiddled around for the lock, found it and opened it. I called out to my fiance who was in the mens bathroom across from the ladies. I walked out into the pitch black powder room and I kept telling myself to not look into the huge mirror front of me, for fear of what I might see behind me (all sorts running through my over imaginative brain) I walked straight out with my hands out in front of me, about 5 steps later my hands reach the wall, I can feel the wall paper under my fingers. I remember the main door to the ladies is to the left so I shuffle along the side until I reach it. The whole time I am sure I am not the only one in the bathroom, I start to panic as I fumble around for the door knob, finally in desperation I scream out and drop to my knees and at that moment this light from the outside streams into the bathroom as my fiance flings the door open, I don’t know how but I lunge out that bathroom so fast my jeans still undone. We are laughing because we cannot believe the lights would trip after the events of the evening so far. Complete disbelief. “whats the chances?” my fiance says.

We walk back to the bar and sit down, the barman takes our drinks order, I ask him was there a power failure now? He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders, “no” he says. I tell him “we were in the bathroom and the power just tripped”  he laughs.

Later I phone my mom to tell her about our experience and she just laughs and says, “did you talk to the ghost behind the bar?” apparently there is a ghost behind the bar at the Royal Hotel.

Now this might seem like a total fabricated story, but it happened just like I have told it above. Now I don’t know if there are really ghosts there or if there is just a lunatic walking around Pilgrims rest scaring people for a laugh, but which ever it is, it scared the shit out of me. Real or not, I know what I saw and felt and its a real life ghost story and one I can tell my grandchildren one day.


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