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Phantom Hitchhikers & Road Ghosts

Well no I cant see why more would be seen at night but maybe if it
is quiet in not many people about something strange would stand
out more, be more noticeable.
 
So - two coincidences in relatively quick succession yesterday.

I was flicking through the book, I've Seen a Ghost: True Stories from Showbusiness by Richard Davis. (I've given this a bit of a review on the Celebrity Ghosts & Hauntings thread - post #74).

I was after a specific reference relating to the filming of The Owl Service, but got distracted on the way. Lo and behold, as I'm thinking I should stop faffing around and look for that particular detail I get an alert which takes me to a message on the Repatriation Of Relics & Antiquities: News & Specific Cases by @Frideswide, which references…yup…The Owl Service.

The second – and more relevant – coincidence was that, somewhat later in the day, coming across a story in the same book and thinking – I’ll have to post that up on the Road Ghosts thread. Logged in to search for the thread only to find @Yithian had just posted on it! Not only that, but elements of the subsequent discussion are echoed in the story.

So, to distil a much longer tale - in 1949 the once well-known radio producer Michell Raper, and an friend, were riding around the wilds of Devon on a motorbike looking for the farmhouse home of playwright Peter Donald. Hopelessly lost, they decide to ask what they assume to be a farm worker dressed in a ‘flat-topped trilby hat and an ex-army cape’. They spot the figure in the middle distance – but oddly, they cannot agree as to whether it is heading towards them, or away from them, despite it being daylight hours, and very clear conditions. They head in the direction of the figure, but eventually find themselves driving into a village without ever having passed it on the way, or indeed, any clear indication as to where it could have left the road without still being visible.

Their host – when they finally find him – tells them without hesitation that they've obviously seen 'the ghost'. It appears to be quite a common occurrence, but he expresses some surprise at its appearance in daylight.

Some time later, the witness states

And then I remembered something that had nagged away at the back of my mind ever since it had all happened…Paul and I had argued about whether it was coming towards us or going away from us. And we had argued because of the way it had walked – not plodding along slowly as any other man would have walked, but with feet that almost twinkled (that’s the only word that describes it) just clear of the grass.

‘No’, I said, ‘it wasn’t touching the ground. The feet just seemed to go to and fro.’

I like the element of confusion as to the direction the figure was travelling - seems somehow MR Jamesian. And although the use of ‘twinkled’ at first seemed incongruous, and somewhat clumsy – I think I actually kind of get what the writer is trying to describe.

Not much in the way of information that might pinpoint the location: Devon; flat moorland; T-junction; village. There are no specific place names – and I have a feeling that the name Peter Donald may be a pseudonym*, and haven’t been able to trace a location to that individual.

*There's an actor of that name - with dates that would work - but he seems to have been US based for most of his life, and I can find no reference to him having written plays.
 
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So - two coincidences in relatively quick succession yesterday.

I was flicking through the book, I've Seen a Ghost: True Stories from Showbusiness by Richard Davis. (I've given this a bit of a review on the Celebrity Ghosts & Hauntings thread - post #74).

I was after a specific reference relating to the filming of The Owl Service, but got distracted on the way. Lo and behold, as I'm thinking I should stop faffing around and look for that particular detail I get an alert which takes me to a message on the Repatriation Of Relics & Antiquities: News & Specific Cases by @Frideswide, which references…yup…The Owl Service.

The second – and more relevant – coincidence was that, somewhat later in the day, coming across a story in the same book and thinking – I’ll have to post that up on the Road Ghosts thread. Logged in to search for the thread only to find @Yithian had just posted on it! Not only that, but elements of the subsequent discussion are echoed in the story.

So, to distil a much longer tale - in 1949 the once well-known radio producer Michell Raper, and an friend, were riding around the wilds of Devon on a motorbike looking for the farmhouse home of playwright Peter Donald. Hopelessly lost, they decide to ask what they assume to be a farm worker dressed in a ‘flat-topped trilby hat and an ex-army cape’. They spot the figure in the middle distance – but oddly, they cannot agree as to whether it is heading towards them, or away from them, despite it being daylight hours, and very clear conditions. They head in the direction of the figure, but eventually find themselves driving into a village without ever having passed it on the way, or indeed, any clear indication as to where it could have left the road without still being visible.

Their host – when they finally find him – tells them without hesitation that they've obviously seen 'the ghost'. It appears to be quite a common occurrence, but he expresses some surprise at its appearance in daylight.

Some time later, the witness states



I like the element of confusion as to the direction the figure was travelling - seems somehow MR Jamesian. And although the use of ‘twinkled’ at first seemed incongruous, and somewhat clumsy – I think I actually kind of get what the writer is trying to describe.

Not much in the way of information that might pinpoint the location: Devon; flat moorland; T-junction; village. There are no specific place names – and I have a feeling that the name Peter Donald may be a pseudonym*, and haven’t been able to trace a location to that individual.

*There's an actor of that name - with dates that would work - but he seems to have been US based for most of his life, and I can find no reference to him having written plays.
Reminds me of incident which I have posted before on the 90's ITV show Strange But True...3 minutes in and talking about the erratic movement.
 
So - two coincidences in relatively quick succession yesterday.

I was flicking through the book, I've Seen a Ghost: True Stories from Showbusiness by Richard Davis. (I've given this a bit of a review on the Celebrity Ghosts & Hauntings thread - post #74).

I was after a specific reference relating to the filming of The Owl Service, but got distracted on the way. Lo and behold, as I'm thinking I should stop faffing around and look for that particular detail I get an alert which takes me to a message on the Repatriation Of Relics & Antiquities: News & Specific Cases by @Frideswide, which references…yup…The Owl Service.

The second – and more relevant – coincidence was that, somewhat later in the day, coming across a story in the same book and thinking – I’ll have to post that up on the Road Ghosts thread. Logged in to search for the thread only to find @Yithian had just posted on it! Not only that, but elements of the subsequent discussion are echoed in the story.

So, to distil a much longer tale - in 1949 the once well-known radio producer Michell Raper, and an friend, were riding around the wilds of Devon on a motorbike looking for the farmhouse home of playwright Peter Donald. Hopelessly lost, they decide to ask what they assume to be a farm worker dressed in a ‘flat-topped trilby hat and an ex-army cape’. They spot the figure in the middle distance – but oddly, they cannot agree as to whether it is heading towards them, or away from them, despite it being daylight hours, and very clear conditions. They head in the direction of the figure, but eventually find themselves driving into a village without ever having passed it on the way, or indeed, any clear indication as to where it could have left the road without still being visible.

Their host – when they finally find him – tells them without hesitation that they've obviously seen 'the ghost'. It appears to be quite a common occurrence, but he expresses some surprise at its appearance in daylight.

Some time later, the witness states



I like the element of confusion as to the direction the figure was travelling - seems somehow MR Jamesian. And although the use of ‘twinkled’ at first seemed incongruous, and somewhat clumsy – I think I actually kind of get what the writer is trying to describe.

Not much in the way of information that might pinpoint the location: Devon; flat moorland; T-junction; village. There are no specific place names – and I have a feeling that the name Peter Donald may be a pseudonym*, and haven’t been able to trace a location to that individual.

*There's an actor of that name - with dates that would work - but he seems to have been US based for most of his life, and I can find no reference to him having written plays.
Thanks for posting. No joy with Peter Donald beyond what you already know, however this is interesting:

09:30

SOUTH-EAST SPECIAL​

BBC Home Service logo
BBC Home Service
Sat 30th May 1964, 09:30 on BBC Home Service Basic
The Ghost Hunters
As Mrs. Beeton might have said, ' First catch your ghost.'
MICHELL RAPER talked to members of the London Ghost Club to find out how
Produced by RICHARD THOMAS

Contributors​

Unknown:Michell Raper
Produced By:Richard Thomas

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/dafe0516389741fe9ffc40a79d8eefb5

So very possible Mr Raper had an interest in ghosts years after his sighting

Edit: pops up here too:

"Finally, in a fascinating documentary – The Ghosts of M.R. James – Michell Raper examines the author’s life and work, with readings from several of his stories."

https://xigxag.co.uk/audiobook/the-m-r-james-bbc-radio-collection-9781787538993/
 
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...So very possible Mr Raper had an interest in ghosts years after his sighting...

Yes - the shortish intro to his story in the book says that he had been 'responsible for programmes having to do with events supernatural', although his remit was far more general than that. The events which make up the story took place in 1949 - while Raper and his friend were on holiday from Oxford (although the former's home county was Somerset). It would be nice to think that the events described inspired a life long interest.

I had no idea of the MR James connection when I mentioned the Jamesian feel of the figure. That's somehow quite satisfying.
 
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I've been trying various routes for finding out the location of this fascinating story and found this snippet in a book via Google Books. Can't see the rest of the page unfortunately:

Michell Raper...lived in Somerset, not far from author Ronnie Duncan's farm in Devon. He offered to drive me to his own home and then on to Ronnie's , as he himself wanted to meet the distin- guished Cornishman

Is this a retelling of the same story by Raper's companion (presumably Paul Almond, one of the book's authors) I wonder? And the playwright was Ronnie Duncan?

The 'recurring' nature of the phenomenon (if true) and description makes me think of an unusual optical illusion of some kind.
 
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Here's the location we may be looking for (in terms of the witnesses' destination at least)

http://www.literaryplaces.co.uk/?p=506

The local village is I suppose Welcombe.

Edit: yes it is; I've been able to make out a couple more phrases from Almond's book, where it's clear that the ghost incident is indeed retold and Duncan refers to it as the "Welcombe Ghost". The ghost is said to appear mainly on rainy nights and in classic road ghost fashion leap in front of cars "waving its arms", including once to Duncan himself. Horses were also supposed to refuse to pass the spot.

The book, incidentally, is "High Hopes: Coming of Age in the Mid-Century" by Paul Almond and Michael Ballantyne.
 
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Here's the location we may be looking for (in terms of the witnesses' destination at least)

http://www.literaryplaces.co.uk/?p=506

The local village is I suppose Welcombe.

Edit: yes it is; I've been able to make out a couple more phrases from Almond's book, where it's clear that the ghost incident is indeed retold and Duncan refers to it as the "Welcombe Ghost". The ghost is said to appear mainly on rainy nights and in classic road ghost fashion leap in front of cars "waving its arms", including once to Duncan himself. Horses were also supposed to refuse to pass the spot.

The book, incidentally, is "High Hopes: Coming of Age in the Mid-Century" by Paul Almond and Michael Ballantyne.

5DCACFA2-34B9-4685-A570-025A8916C453.jpeg
23C0FADB-D0D1-40A7-8AF0-933F165898D5.png


Edited to add: Copy & paste the following into the Google Earth search box to drop you onto the farm complex:

50.92905, -4.54138

maximus otter
 

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I've been trying various routes for finding out the location of this fascinating story and found this snippet in a book via Google Books. Can't see the rest of the page unfortunately...

Is this a retelling of the same story by Raper's companion (presumably Paul Almond, one of the book's authors) I wonder? And the playwright was Ronnie Duncan?

The 'recurring' nature of the phenomenon (if true) and description makes me think of an unusual optical illusion of some kind.

Great find. This sounds very likely.

Flicking through the original book again (I've Seen a Ghost: True Stories from Showbusiness - Richard Davis) I'm now pretty sure that the names of many secondary individuals in the stories are pseudonyms. Which kind of makes sense - the authors themselves were clearly happy with their names being out there, but others may not have be so willing, or it may just have been considered too laborious to get individual permissions.

So Ronnie Duncan for Peter Donald sounds a good match. The purpose of the journey was to discuss a play, written by their host, that Raper's companion wished to produce at Oxford. Duncan's play The Way to the Tomb, was first staged in 1945 - so possibly this one.
 
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Just trying to narrow things down further. There isn't much 'moorland' on the current aerial view, other than maybe the lanes down into West Mill itself- these are hardly 'flat' though.

However going back to pre-60s maps shows that there is some moorland marked around the road into Welcombe from the east, particularly between Meddon and Welcombe itself (marked as 'Meddon Moor'). So the description of travelling through flat moorland immediately before entering a village might be correct.
 
Just trying to narrow things down further. There isn't much 'moorland' on the current aerial view, other than maybe the lanes down into West Mill itself- these are hardly 'flat' though.

However going back to pre-60s maps shows that there is some moorland marked around the road into Welcombe from the east, particularly between Meddon and Welcombe itself (marked as 'Meddon Moor'). So the description of travelling through flat moorland immediately before entering a village might be correct.

Yes. I wondered about that. However, I think some people - certainly in the past - used 'moor' in quite a general way for uncultivated arable land. Roundabout me, a moor is the Wuthering Heights type highland stuff - but there are many areas now walled and heatherless and used for livestock that are still named as moors. 'Heath' is maybe the closest lowland landscape. There was an awful lot more heathland in the West Country even just a few decades ago - and I think heath and moor are possibly somewhat interchangeable as far as common usage goes.
 
Horses were also supposed to refuse to pass the spot.

The book, incidentally, is "High Hopes: Coming of Age in the Mid-Century" by Paul Almond and Michael Ballantyne.
I do have to point out that horses, being prey animals, are also susceptible to optical illusions and will start and shy at just about anything.
 
One thing I've not been able to find (so far) is any evidence of a tradition of a Welcombe 'road ghost' outside this particular story, although Ronald Duncan's comment suggests it was then well known. Still, it would be easy enough for a ghost story to slip out of circulation between the 1940s and now.
 
I do have to point out that horses, being prey animals, are also susceptible to optical illusions and will start and shy at just about anything.
Ah, yup, as I learned during my detailed research (reading a Wiki page) into the need for and use of racehorses' sheepskin nosebands.*

As you'll know, the noseband slightly obscures the horse's view forward so its attention is directed downwards at the ground rather than looking around at things that might frighten it.

*Was sidetracked when making these for cycling.
 

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Used to have 2 horses one day the one I was riding took against a
lump of concrete that had been at the side of that road and he had
passed without the slightest response for years, it was a battle to
get him passed it for weeks, then just as suddenly he went back to
totally ignoring it, who knows, just a horse thing?
:dunno:
 
Ah, yup, as I learned during my detailed research (reading a Wiki page) into the need for and use of racehorses' sheepskin nosebands.*

As you'll know, the noseband slightly obscures the horse's view forward so its attention is directed downwards at the ground rather than looking around at things that might frighten it.

*Was sidetracked when making these for cycling.
Also blinkers, which stop them seeing anything coming up behind them, which is why driving horses wear them; so they can't see the wheels of whatever they are pulling.
 
Actually a decent one (few and far between on YT). Yes, bloke in a costume who has had to step into the verge as the two cars passed him and is looking down to shield his eyes and retain night vision. But it is open to interpretation and probably isn't f**king CGI for once
He would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.
 
Malaysian phantom hitchhiker?


Rideshare Driver in Malaysia Picks Up Ghost?​

May 04, 2023

Rideshare Driver in Malaysia Picks Up Ghost?

By Tim Binnall
A rideshare driver in Malaysia claims that he recently picked up a peculiar passenger who seemingly turned out to be a ghost. According to a local media report, the eerie incident occurred earlier this week in the city of Kuching, where Ahsan Ismail was enlisted by someone looking to travel from a hospital to a nearby cemetery. The driver was understandably a bit put off by the odd destination, but assumed that it was chosen because it is something of a local landmark. Upon arriving at the hospital, he was greeted by a woman standing in a "dark area" an explained that he did not take a very good look at her face "to avoid her feeling uncomfortable."
When the pair set off on their journey, Ismail recalls, there was no conversation between them, though he noticed that the woman seemed to be wearing a particularly strong perfume that pervaded the vehicle. When they ultimately reached the cemetery, the driver says that he alerted his passenger that they had arrived and was stunned to discover that there was no one else in the car. Chillingly, Ismail claims that the woman did pay for the ride in the form of "a few old money notes" that were left sitting on the backseat. Detailing the spooky experience on social media, he wrote that "I quickly drove away and immediately made a video call to my friend to tell him the story."

https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/rideshare-driver-in-malaysia-picks-up-ghost/
 
New road ghost account from the UK Paranormal Database:

Legless Male​


Location: Margaretting (Essex) - Margaretting Road between village and Galleywood
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: June 2023
Further Comments: A fast moving and seemingly legless male figure with dark hair and wearing an oversized grey tee-shirt shot across the road at huge speed in front of a motorist. The figure disappeared over a ditch. The driver slowed and stopped to look, but the figure had vanished.
 
I was looking into the Roy Fulton case at the weekend again (information pertaining to it is, unfortunately, scant). In looking up that case, I found this brilliant write-up of an experience a truck driver had on the A38, taken from one of Tom Slemen's 'Haunted' collections.


During the early hours of a rainy autumnal morning in 1958, a long-distance HGV driver named Harry Unsworth was driving his vehicle along the A38 motorway towards a depot in Cullompton, Devonshire, England, when he noticed the silhouette of a man about three hundred yards in front of him, standing in the middle of the road.

Unsworth declerated his vehicle and stared beyond his busy windscreen wipers at the figure ahead. The stranger was middle-aged, with a mop of curly grey hair, and he wore a saturated grey raincoat. The man produced a torch from his pocket and flashed it at Unsworth, who responded by pulling his lorry up. Unsworth wound his sidewindow down to get a better look at the hitch-hiker.

The man stood there on the macadam, looking up at the driver with a dripping, expressionless face.

"Come on then!" Unsworth shouted, impatiently.

The man climbed into the driver's cab, and in a well-spoken voice he asked Unsworth to drop him off four miles down the motorway at the old bridge at Holcombe. The lorry drove on into the night down the deserted motorway, and the hitch-hiker suddenly started to chuckle. Unsworth glanced at him while he laughed, but the stranger turned his face away and looked out the passenger window, sniggering to himself for no reason.

Unsworth asked him what was funny, and the man suddenly turned to face him. His face was contorted with an eerie smile.

"Did you know there was a real tragic pile up here a few years ago? Arms and legs everywhere." said the hitch-hiker. And he continued to recount grisly stories about all the traffic accidents that he'd witnessed on the stretch of motorway. Unsworth had seen a few disturbing automobile crashes in his time, but the gruesome blow-by-blow accounts of the fatalities told to him by the hitch-hiker really turned his stomach. Unsworth told the man to shut up, and was only too glad to be rid of his morbid passenger when the lorry reached the drop-off point at the old bridge.

Three days later, Mr Unsworth was driving his lorry through the dead of night along the same section of the A38, when he came across the same hitch-hiker again. As before he stood in the middle of the motorway flashing a torch and waving his arm.

With an impending sense of deja vu, Unsworth pulled up beside the man, and again, the hitch-hiker asked to be dropped off at the old bridge at Holcombe. This time the man said nothing throughout the journey, but kept smiling and looking at Unsworth out the corner of his eye. This behaviour made the lorry-driver's flesh creep. When the man got out at the bridge, he didn't offer a word of thanks. He walked away into the darkness.

A month after that, Unsworth was again heading along the A38 to the lorry depot - when he saw the dreaded hitch-hiker again, standing in the road on the same stretch of motorway as before. The weather was even the same as it had been on the two previous occasions; torrential rain. And the hitch-hiker's request? To be dropped off four miles down the road at the old bridge. Understandably, Mr Unsworth was rather reluctant to give the man a lift, but decided to take him to the confounded bridge for the last time. Once more, the hitch-hiker remained silent during the journey, but occasionally burst out laughing.

On the following night, Harry Unsworth was on the same route to the depot. As his vehicle neared the section of the A38 where the oddball had a habit of appearing, he anxiously scanned the road ahead. But on this occasion, the hitch-hiker was nowhere to be seen.

Three months later, Unsworth was whistling in his cab as he drove along the stretch of the A38 where he had first set eyes upon the hitch-hiker. He remembers smiling as he thought about the crazy man with the torch, and he also remembers the sight that wiped the smile off his face. Standing in the pouring rain in the middle lane of the motorway was the grey-haired man waving his torch frantically.

Unsworth braked by the lunatic, and was astonished to hear the same hackneyed request from him. But Unsworth was more intrigued than scared, and he dropped off the man at the bridge again - but this time the hitchhiker broke the repetitive pattern by asking Mr Unsworth to wait for him whilst he went to 'collect some suitcases,' because he wanted to go to a destination further down the road this time.

But the man didn't return to the lorry after twenty minutes had elapsed, and Unsworth was running to a tight schedule and couldn't afford to wait. So he started the vehicle up and drove on.

Three miles down the road, the lorry-driver's heart jumped when he saw the hitch-hiker waving his torch in the middle of the motorway. Unsworth was baffled as to how the man could have travelled such a distance in so short a time. The man obviously hadn't hitched a lift, for no vehicles had passed along the deserted motorway, and this fact gave Unsworth the creeps. He tried to drive around the sinister man, but the hitch-hiker dived head-first into the path of the heavy-goods vehicle!

Unsworth slammed on the brakes and almost jack-knifed his vehicle. He leaped out of his cab and looked for the body of the madman in the road. He expected to find a flattened corpse, but there was none. Forty feet away stood the hitch-hiker, swearing at the lorry-driver. He started to jump up and down with derision and waved his fist at Unsworth. And then he simply vanished.


Unsworth ran back to his vehicle and drove off at high speed. He never encountered the A38 apparition again. But others are still seeing the solid-looking ghost. In December 1991, a woman driving to Taunton via a stretch of the A38 was rounding a bend near the village of Rumwell when she saw a man in a grey raincoat flashing a torch at her in the middle of the road. The woman couldn't brake in time, so she was forced to swerve her vehicle into a ditch. She left her Vauxhall Astra fuming, ready to give the suicidal jaywalker a piece of her mind, but she was amazed to see that the road was completely deserted in both directions. The man with the torch had mysteriously disappeared.
 
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I was looking into the Roy Fulton case at the weekend again (information pertaining to it is, unfortunately, scant). In looking up that case, I found this brilliant write-up of an experience a truck driver had on the A38, taken from one of Tom Slemen's 'Haunted' collections.


During the early hours of a rainy autumnal morning in 1958, a long-distance HGV driver named Harry Unsworth was driving his vehicle along the A38 motorway towards a depot in Cullompton, Devonshire, England, when he noticed the silhouette of a man about three hundred yards in front of him, standing in the middle of the road.

Unsworth declerated his vehicle and stared beyond his busy windscreen wipers at the figure ahead. The stranger was middle-aged, with a mop of curly grey hair, and he wore a saturated grey raincoat. The man produced a torch from his pocket and flashed it at Unsworth, who responded by pulling his lorry up. Unsworth wound his sidewindow down to get a better look at the hitch-hiker.

The man stood there on the macadam, looking up at the driver with a dripping, expressionless face.

"Come on then!" Unsworth shouted, impatiently.

The man climbed into the driver's cab, and in a well-spoken voice he asked Unsworth to drop him off four miles down the motorway at the old bridge at Holcombe. The lorry drove on into the night down the deserted motorway, and the hitch-hiker suddenly started to chuckle. Unsworth glanced at him while he laughed, but the stranger turned his face away and looked out the passenger window, sniggering to himself for no reason.

Unsworth asked him what was funny, and the man suddenly turned to face him. His face was contorted with an eerie smile.

"Did you know there was a real tragic pile up here a few years ago? Arms and legs everywhere." said the hitch-hiker. And he continued to recount grisly stories about all the traffic accidents that he'd witnessed on the stretch of motorway. Unsworth had seen a few disturbing automobile crashes in his time, but the gruesome blow-by-blow accounts of the fatalities told to him by the hitch-hiker really turned his stomach. Unsworth told the man to shut up, and was only too glad to be rid of his morbid passenger when the lorry reached the drop-off point at the old bridge.

Three days later, Mr Unsworth was driving his lorry through the dead of night along the same section of the A38, when he came across the same hitch-hiker again. As before he stood in the middle of the motorway flashing a torch and waving his arm.

With an impending sense of deja vu, Unsworth pulled up beside the man, and again, the hitch-hiker asked to be dropped off at the old bridge at Holcombe. This time the man said nothing throughout the journey, but kept smiling and looking at Unsworth out the corner of his eye. This behaviour made the lorry-driver's flesh creep. When the man got out at the bridge, he didn't offer a word of thanks. He walked away into the darkness.

A month after that, Unsworth was again heading along the A38 to the lorry depot - when he saw the dreaded hitch-hiker again, standing in the road on the same stretch of motorway as before. The weather was even the same as it had been on the two previous occasions; torrential rain. And the hitch-hiker's request? To be dropped off four miles down the road at the old bridge. Understandably, Mr Unsworth was rather reluctant to give the man a lift, but decided to take him to the confounded bridge for the last time. Once more, the hitch-hiker remained silent during the journey, but occasionally burst out laughing.

On the following night, Harry Unsworth was on the same route to the depot. As his vehicle neared the section of the A38 where the oddball had a habit of appearing, he anxiously scanned the road ahead. But on this occasion, the hitch-hiker was nowhere to be seen.

Three months later, Unsworth was whistling in his cab as he drove along the stretch of the A38 where he had first set eyes upon the hitch-hiker. He remembers smiling as he thought about the crazy man with the torch, and he also remembers the sight that wiped the smile off his face. Standing in the pouring rain in the middle lane of the motorway was the grey-haired man waving his torch frantically.

Unsworth braked by the lunatic, and was astonished to hear the same hackneyed request from him. But Unsworth was more intrigued than scared, and he dropped off the man at the bridge again - but this time the hitchhiker broke the repetitive pattern by asking Mr Unsworth to wait for him whilst he went to 'collect some suitcases,' because he wanted to go to a destination further down the road this time.

But the man didn't return to the lorry after twenty minutes had elapsed, and Unsworth was running to a tight schedule and couldn't afford to wait. So he started the vehicle up and drove on.

Three miles down the road, the lorry-driver's heart jumped when he saw the hitch-hiker waving his torch in the middle of the motorway. Unsworth was baffled as to how the man could have travelled such a distance in so short a time. The man obviously hadn't hitched a lift, for no vehicles had passed along the deserted motorway, and this fact gave Unsworth the creeps. He tried to drive around the sinister man, but the hitch-hiker dived head-first into the path of the heavy-goods vehicle!

Unsworth slammed on the brakes and almost jack-knifed his vehicle. He leaped out of his cab and looked for the body of the madman in the road. He expected to find a flattened corpse, but there was none. Forty feet away stood the hitch-hiker, swearing at the lorry-driver. He started to jump up and down with derision and waved his fist at Unsworth. And then he simply vanished.


Unsworth ran back to his vehicle and drove off at high speed. He never encountered the A38 apparition again. But others are still seeing the solid-looking ghost. In December 1991, a woman driving to Taunton via a stretch of the A38 was rounding a bend near the village of Rumwell when she saw a man in a grey raincoat flashing a torch at her in the middle of the road. The woman couldn't brake in time, so she was forced to swerve her vehicle into a ditch. She left her Vauxhall Astra fuming, ready to give the suicidal jaywalker a piece of her mind, but she was amazed to see that the road was completely deserted in both directions. The man with the torch had mysteriously disappeared.
Good posts as I nearly finished a member on this forum book The Roadmap of British Ghosts by Ruth Roper Wylde but also not sure about Tome Slemen stories.
 
I was looking into the Roy Fulton case at the weekend again (information pertaining to it is, unfortunately, scant). In looking up that case, I found this brilliant write-up of an experience a truck driver had on the A38, taken from one of Tom Slemen's 'Haunted' collections.


During the early hours of a rainy autumnal morning in 1958, a long-distance HGV driver named Harry Unsworth was driving his vehicle along the A38 motorway towards a depot in Cullompton, Devonshire, England, when he noticed the silhouette of a man about three hundred yards in front of him, standing in the middle of the road.

Unsworth declerated his vehicle and stared beyond his busy windscreen wipers at the figure ahead. The stranger was middle-aged, with a mop of curly grey hair, and he wore a saturated grey raincoat. The man produced a torch from his pocket and flashed it at Unsworth, who responded by pulling his lorry up. Unsworth wound his sidewindow down to get a better look at the hitch-hiker.

The man stood there on the macadam, looking up at the driver with a dripping, expressionless face.

"Come on then!" Unsworth shouted, impatiently.

The man climbed into the driver's cab, and in a well-spoken voice he asked Unsworth to drop him off four miles down the motorway at the old bridge at Holcombe. The lorry drove on into the night down the deserted motorway, and the hitch-hiker suddenly started to chuckle. Unsworth glanced at him while he laughed, but the stranger turned his face away and looked out the passenger window, sniggering to himself for no reason.

Unsworth asked him what was funny, and the man suddenly turned to face him. His face was contorted with an eerie smile.

"Did you know there was a real tragic pile up here a few years ago? Arms and legs everywhere." said the hitch-hiker. And he continued to recount grisly stories about all the traffic accidents that he'd witnessed on the stretch of motorway. Unsworth had seen a few disturbing automobile crashes in his time, but the gruesome blow-by-blow accounts of the fatalities told to him by the hitch-hiker really turned his stomach. Unsworth told the man to shut up, and was only too glad to be rid of his morbid passenger when the lorry reached the drop-off point at the old bridge.

Three days later, Mr Unsworth was driving his lorry through the dead of night along the same section of the A38, when he came across the same hitch-hiker again. As before he stood in the middle of the motorway flashing a torch and waving his arm.

With an impending sense of deja vu, Unsworth pulled up beside the man, and again, the hitch-hiker asked to be dropped off at the old bridge at Holcombe. This time the man said nothing throughout the journey, but kept smiling and looking at Unsworth out the corner of his eye. This behaviour made the lorry-driver's flesh creep. When the man got out at the bridge, he didn't offer a word of thanks. He walked away into the darkness.

A month after that, Unsworth was again heading along the A38 to the lorry depot - when he saw the dreaded hitch-hiker again, standing in the road on the same stretch of motorway as before. The weather was even the same as it had been on the two previous occasions; torrential rain. And the hitch-hiker's request? To be dropped off four miles down the road at the old bridge. Understandably, Mr Unsworth was rather reluctant to give the man a lift, but decided to take him to the confounded bridge for the last time. Once more, the hitch-hiker remained silent during the journey, but occasionally burst out laughing.

On the following night, Harry Unsworth was on the same route to the depot. As his vehicle neared the section of the A38 where the oddball had a habit of appearing, he anxiously scanned the road ahead. But on this occasion, the hitch-hiker was nowhere to be seen.

Three months later, Unsworth was whistling in his cab as he drove along the stretch of the A38 where he had first set eyes upon the hitch-hiker. He remembers smiling as he thought about the crazy man with the torch, and he also remembers the sight that wiped the smile off his face. Standing in the pouring rain in the middle lane of the motorway was the grey-haired man waving his torch frantically.

Unsworth braked by the lunatic, and was astonished to hear the same hackneyed request from him. But Unsworth was more intrigued than scared, and he dropped off the man at the bridge again - but this time the hitchhiker broke the repetitive pattern by asking Mr Unsworth to wait for him whilst he went to 'collect some suitcases,' because he wanted to go to a destination further down the road this time.

But the man didn't return to the lorry after twenty minutes had elapsed, and Unsworth was running to a tight schedule and couldn't afford to wait. So he started the vehicle up and drove on.

Three miles down the road, the lorry-driver's heart jumped when he saw the hitch-hiker waving his torch in the middle of the motorway. Unsworth was baffled as to how the man could have travelled such a distance in so short a time. The man obviously hadn't hitched a lift, for no vehicles had passed along the deserted motorway, and this fact gave Unsworth the creeps. He tried to drive around the sinister man, but the hitch-hiker dived head-first into the path of the heavy-goods vehicle!

Unsworth slammed on the brakes and almost jack-knifed his vehicle. He leaped out of his cab and looked for the body of the madman in the road. He expected to find a flattened corpse, but there was none. Forty feet away stood the hitch-hiker, swearing at the lorry-driver. He started to jump up and down with derision and waved his fist at Unsworth. And then he simply vanished.


Unsworth ran back to his vehicle and drove off at high speed. He never encountered the A38 apparition again. But others are still seeing the solid-looking ghost. In December 1991, a woman driving to Taunton via a stretch of the A38 was rounding a bend near the village of Rumwell when she saw a man in a grey raincoat flashing a torch at her in the middle of the road. The woman couldn't brake in time, so she was forced to swerve her vehicle into a ditch. She left her Vauxhall Astra fuming, ready to give the suicidal jaywalker a piece of her mind, but she was amazed to see that the road was completely deserted in both directions. The man with the torch had mysteriously disappeared.
I have read this case in another book, maybe an Underwood? I read it maybe 20 years ago. would be good to find the original source, maybe Devon-based Theo Brown?

Edit: it was Peter Ackroyd's book:

https://ghostlygentlewoman.wordpres...4th-december-dont-take-this-road-in-the-dark/
 
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I've found the case in the Ackroyd book.

It was first reported in the Western Morning News in 1970, when a woman rounded the corner near the Heatherton Grange Hotel and saw the figure in the middle of the road, flashing his torch. She swerved to avoid him, but when she came to a halt, he was nowhere to be seen.

It was actually the publication of that story which led Harry Unsworth to write in with his encounters of 1958.
 
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