Fortean Country Walks

Dick Turpin

Abominable Snowman
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I don’t know if there is a fortean country walk thread, so I thought I’d start one, after a tale that was told to me at the weekend.

Last Saturday morning a neighbour of mine and I went out for a country walk. He knows how much I enjoy walking, so he kindly offered to take me on some of the routes that he has plotted himself over the years.

We were about 3 miles in, and on a narrow secluded country lane, when he told me a curious story.

About 20 years ago, he and his wife were out walking along then same lane, when they heard the sound of a motorbike approaching from behind, so they moved to the very far right of the lane, to give the bike plenty of room to pass.

Its engine got louder and louder, until it got to the stage where they expected the bike to whizz past, when suddenly there was total silence.

They stopped walking and turned around, and the lane was completed deserted, with nowhere that the bike could have gone to. On either side of the lane there is thick hedgerow and bramble, with no paths leading off into the fields beyond

How odd I said, and asked him if he had ever experienced any other strange anomalies whilst out walking. He gave me a look that suggested that there was, but didn’t elaborate.

We are off for another walk next Saturday morning, so I’m hoping he might come up with some more tales.

So, that said, has anyone ever had any fortean experiences whilst out country walking?
 

Bad Bungle

Tutti but not Frutti.
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I'd like to say I've had fortean country walking experiences but none come to mind - would love to hear about corpse roads and hollow ways and deserted villages and haunted bramble-patches from other posters though.
As for disappearing motorbikes, a tale of my neighbour (possibly apocryphal) from the great Winter of 1962-3. There was too much snow on the roads for his bike and so he slowly drove along the top of the hedgerow - all fine 'til he reached a gap in the hedge for the farm gate.
 

escargot

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About 20 years ago, he and his wife were out walking along then same lane, when they heard the sound of a motorbike approaching from behind, so they moved to the very far right of the lane, to give the bike plenty of room to pass.

Its engine got louder and louder, until it got to the stage where they expected the bike to whizz past, when suddenly there was total silence.

Thought I was about to read that it was where T.E. Lawrence had his fatal crash. People still claim to hear it replayed now and then.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
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Walking to the beach from Crackington Haven in Cornwall we passed what I assumed to be a lych gate into a graveyard (but I may be wrong)

They are not uncommon.

“Although some had been built earlier, the 1549 Prayer Book required the priest to meet the corpse at the churchyard entrance. This encouraged the provision of lych-gates to shelter the corpse and the funeral party for that purpose.”

https://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/what-see-outside/lych-gate

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lychgate

maximus otter
 

Spookdaddy

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I'm not entirely sure that either of the following count as 'Fortean' as such, but both events have left permanent imprints in an out of the ordinary sense.

#1

I was lucky to grow up right in the middle of some beautiful countryside - and, as a youngster, and a bit of a loner, took full advantage of it. A fifteen minute walk took me right up through the woods and up onto the moors - where the world seemed to me to be entirely my oyster.

One sunny day - in my very early teens - I was dropping down off a steep hill onto an old railway line which is often used by walkers, but equally often, completely deserted. As I made my way I noticed two figures: one seemed like an older man, the other a teenager - but several years older than me. I was aware that they had become aware of me, and were looking up, but thought nothing of it and lost sight of them as the ground rose up to one side of me.

But then, just as I was about to hit the disused railway track, I hit a small rise and came into view of the younger man, who was much closer by then. All was absolutely fine until I saw him turn, and heard him say -"'He's over here." At which point, I bolted...like a fucking gazelle.

I've been in some situations, but have never - before or since - experienced the utterly overpowering surge of instinct that hit me then; I doubt the words were out of that guy's mouth before the flight mode had kicked in. I think I ran for a solid half hour - fortunately I knew those moors like the back of my hand and was out of their sight within a very short time.

The whole thing may have been me misunderstanding an entirely innocent situation - but I still get a wee bump of adrenalin thinking about it nearly four decades on.
 

escargot

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I'm not entirely sure that either of the following count as 'Fortean' as such, but both events have left permanent imprints in an out of the ordinary sense.

#1

I was lucky to grow up right in the middle of some beautiful countryside - and, as a youngster, and a bit of a loner, took full advantage of it. A fifteen minute walk took me right up through the woods and up onto the moors - where the world seemed to me to be entirely my oyster.

One sunny day - in my very early teens - I was dropping down off a steep hill onto an old railway line which is often used by walkers, but equally often, completely deserted. As I made my way I noticed two figures: one seemed like an older man, the other a teenager - but several years older than me. I was aware that they had become aware of me, and were looking up, but thought nothing of it and lost sight of them as the ground rose up to one side of me.

But then, just as I was about to hit the disused railway track, I hit a small rise and came into view of the younger man, who was much closer by then. All was absolutely fine until I saw him turn, and heard him say -"'He's over here." At which point, I bolted...like a fucking gazelle.

I've been in some situations, but have never - before or since - experienced the utterly overpowering surge of instinct that hit me then; I doubt the words were out of that guy's mouth before the flight mode had kicked in. I think I ran for a solid half hour - fortunately I knew those moors like the back of my hand and was out of their sight within a very short time.

The whole thing may have been me misunderstanding an entirely innocent situation - but I still get a wee bump of adrenalin thinking about it nearly four decades on.
Reminds me of when I was walking home alone one night in my home town. I took a shortcut along a dimly-lit path beside the railway. There's only one way in and out and it's a bit remote.

For some reason I looked behind me and saw a man, who seemed a little closer than I'd expected.
He was most likely perfectly harmless but my body* decided he wasn't so I ran all the way home.
*I was over 8 months pregnant at the time.
 

Spookdaddy

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...For some reason I looked behind me and saw a man, who seemed a little closer than I'd expected.
He was most likely perfectly harmless but my body* decided he wasn't so I ran all the way home.
*I was over 8 months pregnant at the time.

Quite often I find that when people say that they 'follow their instincts' they are actually really just describing doing things on a whim.

In terms of what I think you and I are describing, instinct - whatever that really is - is an overpowering, essential and not very pleasant fight or flight force. It's definitely not whimsical.

(Which is not to say that either of us were undeniably correct in our reactions.)
 

escargot

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Quite often I find that when people say that they 'follow their instincts' they are actually really just describing doing things on a whim.

In terms of what I think you and I are describing, instinct - whatever that really is - is an overpowering, essential and not very pleasant fight or flight force. It's definitely not whimsical.

(Which is not to say that either of us were undeniably correct in our reactions.)

Yup, we'll never know if we were right and it doesn't matter because we were safe. If it started happening a lot I'd worry but that particular feeling of immediate danger is very rare, for me at least.

It's actually panic, which makes us sound like wimps who are acred of our own shadows! but actually means exactly what we felt on those occasions. I do believe we have a thread on it, or on places that seem to induce it.
 

Trevp666

It was like that when I got here.........honest!!!
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Back to the OP.

There is a walk you can do around Clophill in Bedfordshire (North of Luton on the A6) which is the 'Heritage Trail', a circular route around the village.
This takes in the original "Church of St Mary The Virgin" which fell into disuse in the 1800s and subsequently became increasingly ruined.
It became notorious as a site for 'body snatchers'.
It was desecrated in the 1960s amid reports of satan-worshipping.

There have been many reports of ghostly activity at the site too.
Friends of mine who formed a band went to the site back in the 90s to take some photos of themselves for a promo.
Whilst there, they heard the sounds of a horse being ridden up to the church on the path outside.
Being concerned that they might be 'told off' for being there they quickly went outside only to find the entire area deserted.

http://www.letsgo.org.uk/walk/ClophillHeritageTrail.aspx
 

Krepostnoi

Increasingly disenchanted
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Its engine got louder and louder, until it got to the stage where they expected the bike to whizz past, when suddenly there was total silence.
Never mind Lawrence of Arabia, this was the first thread I came to after I read yesterday's message from @Cochise. I was horribly upset by the coincidental imagery: a motorbike getting louder and louder, and then sudden silence, and absence. Thankfully, we've heard from him again since.
 

Yithian

Parish Watch
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Listen to your instincts. Be aware of your surroundings. Pay heed to the little voice in your head that says "Bad idea!"

You will prevail in every ugly situation which you avoid.

maximus otter

Alternatively:

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
-- James Mattis.

More seriously, I became very thoughtful about choosing which table or seat to take after reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

You want to see the main entrance, have something solid between you and it, and be able to identify alternative exits before you sit down.
 

AnonyJ

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Alternatively:

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
-- James Mattis.

More seriously, I became very thoughtful about choosing which table or seat to take after reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

You want to see the main entrance, have something solid between you and it, and be able to identify alternative exits before you sit down.

Indeed, a little planning/thinking to cope with a not-ver-likely-but-not-improbable event is useful. Me & Mr J visited Barcelona, not very long after the terrorist vehicle attack on Las Ramblas; we'd already discussed being aware, noting where open doors and alleys were as we wandered, just in case.
 

Spookdaddy

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...It's actually panic, which makes us sound like wimps who are acred of our own shadows! but actually means exactly what we felt on those occasions. I do believe we have a thread on it, or on places that seem to induce it.

We do - and I think I may have related my story on that thread too.

That said, I now tend to think of genuine panic as being a somewhat unfocused and unreasoning fear of an environment; this may be triggered by a specific element, but rapidly grows beyond that to encompass much more than the original stimulus.

In my own case, what I experienced was precisely targeted on a very specific and definable source. When I ran, I was very consciously running into the cover offered me by my surroundings - seeking refuge in my environment, rather than from it.

I think the two things are probably connected, but I'm not sure they are identical.
 

escargot

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You want to see the main entrance, have something solid between you and it, and be able to identify alternative exits before you sit down.

Ah yup, the supervisory and observational position. I was taught that in my lock-up jobs and you never forget!
 

Fanari_Lloyd

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There are certain places that you can know pretty (or very) well, but still never feel entirely ‘peaceful.’

This is not me, but my gramps used to be an inveterate walker and was walking on the downs one clear day and he saw a car coming toward him. (1960’s this would be)

It was a straight road with no turnings and so he moved off to the edge of the road, and looked away for a few seconds or something, and car — gone.

He made little of it really, but the area on old OS maps was called ‘Scary Hill’ and is not far from Seven Barrows, near Lambourne. If anyone fancies checking the road to see how straight it is, see image (I marked it in blue. Gramps had gone past the turning to Kingston Warren (shown).

I always found that area a bit eerie (I used to play with a girl from Kingston Warren sometimes when I was young) Possibly only because it’s so open and lonely, but still... and a bit further up at the top of Blowing Stone Hill (not shown) one of my uncle‘s saw two red balls of light fly past him when he was out walking his dog.

Edited to add: On the Mode-on Antiquarian it has info about walks in this area and what an interesting one it is.

The Modern Antiquarian
 

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Bad Bungle

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Reminds me of when I was walking home alone one night in my home town. I took a shortcut along a dimly-lit path beside the railway. There's only one way in and out and it's a bit remote.

For some reason I looked behind me and saw a man, who seemed a little closer than I'd expected.
He was most likely perfectly harmless but my body* decided he wasn't so I ran all the way home.
*I was over 8 months pregnant at the time.

I must have been about 14 when I walked the two miles home from the rail station, the last half of the journey was a straight road bound by fields on both sides but a pavement only on one side. Quite a way in front of me was a chap in a raincoat holding a parcel tied with string. I was a fast walker but held back as I didn't want to eventually overtake him. He looked over his shoulder and quickened his pace - what could I do ? There was no alternative route. He looked back again and increased his stride. Finally his nerve went and he fled. Half a mile.
I found this very disconcerting I had no idea why I'd spooked him.
 

Mythopoeika

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I must have been about 14 when I walked the two miles home from the rail station, the last half of the journey was a straight road bound by fields on both sides but a pavement only on one side. Quite a way in front of me was a chap in a raincoat holding a parcel tied with string. I was a fast walker but held back as I didn't want to eventually overtake him. He looked over his shoulder and quickened his pace - what could I do ? There was no alternative route. He looked back again and increased his stride. Finally his nerve went and he fled. Half a mile.
I found this very disconcerting I had no idea why I'd spooked him.
Scary 14 year old!
 

Lb8535

Justified & Ancient
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Alternatively:

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
-- James Mattis.

More seriously, I became very thoughtful about choosing which table or seat to take after reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

You want to see the main entrance, have something solid between you and it, and be able to identify alternative exits before you sit down.
Yes, I always know where the exit is.
 

Lb8535

Justified & Ancient
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I'm a little hesitant to post this but I will. A friend of mine was in fact murdered on a country lane in a small upscale town by as it really turned out an escaped maniac. This has seriously curtailed my country walks.
 

Peripart

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Yup, especially when you're in a drinking club in a cellar in Eastern Europe with only one way in and out via a spiral staircase and you're dressed as the Grim Reaper and your costume catches fire...
Yes, I hate it when that happens. If I had a penny for every time...
 

GingerTabby

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Never a bad idea to mentally note the Fire Exits when you enter an unfamiliar building.

Whenever my mother and I stayed in a hotel she would always check the location of the fire exits before retiring to bed. Thankfully, we never had to use them.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
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I must have been about 14 when I walked the two miles home from the rail station, the last half of the journey was a straight road bound by fields on both sides but a pavement only on one side. Quite a way in front of me was a chap in a raincoat holding a parcel tied with string. I was a fast walker but held back as I didn't want to eventually overtake him. He looked over his shoulder and quickened his pace - what could I do ? There was no alternative route. He looked back again and increased his stride. Finally his nerve went and he fled. Half a mile.
I found this very disconcerting I had no idea why I'd spooked him.

Are you sure that you hadn’t been reading The Tractate Middoth by M.R. James, and just nodded off?

maximus otter
 
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