I’m leaning against the cold metal railing. The smell of salt and seaweed fills my nostrils and the child-like caws of the seagulls echo in my ears. I know the ocean is just a few foot drop, but I cannot see the waves. I can only hear as they crash against the rocky shore below. I squint uselessly into the fog.
When I arrived yesterday in the coastal town of St. Andrews, known for being the birthplace of golf and its crumbling castle ruins, I could look out at the sandy beach from the street. Not today. Today a persistent white mist has cloaked the town. I have never seen a fog like this. It is so dense I could be a foot away from someone and not see them.
Picture Taken by Jill Crotty
Since my time in St. Andrews is short, I decide to continue moving. For a while I walk. My face is soon moist from the mist. The railing and the path are the only clearly visible things. The fog abates slightly about a half a mile later. Opposite the side of the hidden sea I spot a grey stone tower with a cemetery.
Curiosity getting the better of me I amble over. To my left is the tower known as St. Rule’s Tower, and to my right is a solitary stone archway. Between these two weathered marvels is an expanse of green grass with rows of flat lying stones. On each a faded inscription of a person’s name and their birth and death date along with a word or two more. I pass the tower and go further into the cemetery. Here are more elaborate graves carved into the walls. Just a bit further I tell myself.
A note to my readers: If you ever find yourself in a seemingly quaint coastal town in Scotland covered in a white mist, and looking like something out of a Scooby-Doo episode, do not wander aimlessly around ancient graveyards.
It’s after I’ve visited the last couple sections of the graveyard that I decide to go back to the tower. It’s about then when I see a couple of figures in the mist ahead of me. I watch the figures drift around a bit. The fog’s still thick and their silhouettes seem fuzzy, like people on an old antenna television screen. After a couple of minutes I realize they are saying something. I inch closer, avoiding a headstone jutting up out of the ground. I make out the words “lunch” and “harbor.” Not ghosts, just a couple of fellow (hungry) tourists!
Yes I know it’s a rather anticlimactic tale.
Photo Taken by Jill Crotty
If you’d like a true ghost story about St. Andrews there is the story of the White Lady. Two stone masons were fixing part of St. Rule’s tower in the late eighteen hundreds. They entered into one of the chambers and found a woman lying there. She was dead and dressed in a white dress and leather white gloves. A few have reported seeing such a woman floating around this sleepy town.