On The Run

Running in Pilgrim’s Rest, South Africa

Following Christmas, the family and I travelled to South Africa for a much-needed break to relax, rejuvenate and refocus. We chose the province of Mpumalanga as our destination (about a 10-hour road trip with kids) and got exactly what we needed – fresh mountain air, incredible views, country food, several outdoor activities as well as quiet time to reflect and look ahead. We also got something we didn’t expect – cold in summer! Can you believe we had a log fire almost every night? Bright and early on New Year’s Day, Ditiro and I took a short drive to nearby town Pilgrim’s Rest to ring in the New Year. Now, you know I never run without you, so let’s go!

Pilgrim’s Rest was the second of the Transvaal gold fields, attracting a rush of prospectors in 1873. When mining shut down in 1971, the village was sold to the government as a national museum and has been protected as a provincial heritage site since 1986.

We parked our car at one end of the old town, just opposite The Vine Restaurant. There were already a couple of families entering the restaurant for New Year’s breakfast.

It was a cool and cloudy day, but with a tough climb to the other end of the town, it wasn’t an easy run! But my goodness, as a history buff, I absolutely relished the experience. I later told my kids it was a real “Once upon a time…” town. The town’s architecture remains largely unchanged since its days as a bustling mining town. We both felt as if we had been thrown back in time and were intrigued by the different buildings and impressed by the types of businesses that existed at that time. The views were also spectacular with rolling green hills painting the background.

We ran past the old blue post office (which is fully functional and has old artefacts from the late 1800s), various General Dealer stores, a butchery, the Central Garage and a fuel station (which we later used to fuel our car!), as well as an apothecary (pharmacy) and a bank.

We also ran past a news agent, old hotels, pubs and restaurants, as well as a gin distillery whose proprietor proclaims to have the best pizza in the Lowveld and the best gin in South Africa.

There were also different churches, one built as early as 1884, and The Sacred Heart Catholic Church which I later brought my dad to see as he is Catholic.

Although it was a tough run to the top of the town, it was only 2km – it felt like four! Running back was a lot easier and as we approached The Vine, I was joined by a four-legged running partner, a Collie, who escorted me all the way to an old bridge at the bottom of the town. He was a loyal companion for the half kilometre we ran together, clearly very confident about his surroundings. We later found him sleeping comfortably by the fireplace in The Vine.

When we returned to our lodge, we insisted that the whole family go back for lunch and a walk through the town. The kids treated themselves to sweets from the candy store, my dad bought some wooden crafts from a street vendor, and my sister spoilt herself with some old Coca Cola trinkets, as we toured the different stores. It was such a beautiful start to the year… And in my next blog, I’ll tell you how I FINALLY found an ‘H’ for my Alphabet Challenge!

I hope you enjoyed running with me in Pilgrim’s Rest! Have you run through a living museum? Are you from South Africa or have you visited this diverse country?

I’m joining two fabulous runners, Kim from Running on the Fly and Deborah from Confessions from a Mother Runner for their link up – the “Weekly Run Down”.

40 thoughts on “Running in Pilgrim’s Rest, South Africa

  1. I just showed your photos to Kai and said we need to go there!!! Such a beautiful place. It reminds me a bit of a rural English village.
    Now I’m wondering what the “H” will be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The old phone box we saw was very British, and if I’m not mistaken, the post box had the Royal Mail emblem. There were also many Welsh miners as the Methodist Church was built for them (if I read correctly). The H is quite close to this town, so all of a sudden, it fell into my hands!

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  2. What a great vacation and lovely place to visit. I love seeing the old churches, but I’m also intrigued by the Coca-Cola trinkets your sister found. I’m a die hard Coke fan although I kicked my 6-pack a day habit decades ago. :-O

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  3. What a neat little back-in-time town! Like you, I love seeing well-preserved landmarks and learning the history behind them. Thank you for the educational tour 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I ran in a new place this week (Tampa, Florida) but it wasn’t as historic or interesting as this! I love your running sightseeing tour through this town. But wait! You didn’t get any gin or pizza? How will we know if it’s really the best???

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  5. As always, I love traveling with you. There’s something about stepping into history, and what better than also to relax, rejuvenate and refocus. I love fire pits too.
    So glad you had a great getaway, and a four legged buddy. He sounds like a great ambassador

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  6. That looks like a good place to go for relax and running. What beautiful scenery there in the background and some beautiful houses too! The name of the town seemed familiar, and I realised it’s because there’s a posh restaurant near us with that name. We’ve meant to go there for a long time but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe in the spring.

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  7. I know I haven’t been traveling but it feels like I am when reading your posts. I am curious to know if it was the best pizza and gin. I don’t like gin, but I am still curious. When I read “apothecary”, it reminded me of Schitt’s Creek.

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  8. It looks really lovely! How are the kids on a 10 hr roadtrip? My, that’s long — we’d break it up into a couple of days; we’re wimps when it comes to driving.

    Great job running to the top of the town!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had many stops! I think an adults only trip would have shaved off 2 hours! They were surprisingly good particularly as we separated them 🤣 We had two cars, one had Ditiro, me and one kid. The other car had my dad, my sister and the other kid. So the separation meant there was no boredom-driven fighting. Also, their uncle had bought them walkie talkies for Christmas with a 3km talking span. So they had great fun talking between the cars pretending to be “agents” of some kind using the phonetic Alphabet.

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      1. He did one he didn’t say where it was on Christmas Eve – seemed to run through a vineyard? He did Big Bay on the beach on New Year’s Eve, and lastly Rondebosch Common on New Year’s Day before flying home. Loved them all and we liked seeing the little tent things they have to keep people shaded!

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      2. Well done to him for getting all those done! Parkrun is still something we don’t have in Botswana but I did run a parkrun course when I was in Bloemfontein South Africa last year. It wasn’t the actual day for parkrun but I followed all the signs for a lovely 5k!

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