One of most unnerving ghostly encounters once can have is with one of Britain's many 'Road Ghosts'. Under this banner, I am including, 'Vanishing Hitchhikers', 'Phantom Hitchhikers', 'Phantom Coaches, 'Phantom Cars' and other related spectral phenomena which can be found on British highways and byways. What makes these so upsetting is that they can happen anywhere, to anyone at any time.
My grand-father's encounter
The first account of 'road ghosts' I heard was related to me many years ago by my grand-father. He told me of an experience he had had when he was a lorry driver. He and his partner had seen a woman standing by the side of the road wearing, in his words, 'a big Gainsborough hat'. As they drew level with her, she threw herself in front of his lorry.
Terrified, they got out and searched around but there was no body. This is typical of these ghostly encounters.
At the time the story was related to me, I had a book the title of which I have forgotten. Upon looking up the location, I found only one ghost reported. There was no description of her. However, she had scared the local vicar by throwing herself in front of his bicycle!
Phantom Cricketer, Pack Horse Inn, Dunstable
In 1958, just by the pub on the road between Dunstable and Markyate, there was a terrible crash. The driver of a mini-bus carrying the cricket team from the Kenwood company, swerved to overtake a car and crashed killing two of the party and injuring several others.
Some years later, a taxi driver driving past the spot, was shocked when a man in 'white clothes' stepped in front of his vehicle. He frantically applied the brakes but his vehicle apparently hit the 'man in white'. Of course there was no-one found when he checked around the vehicle. Since then, there have been numerous reports of a cricketer being seen standing by the road at that point.
Phantom Hitchhiker Stanbridge, Bedfordshire
The term 'phantom hitchhiker' has been used for a variety of road ghosts phenomena. Here is the genuine article. A carpet fitter was driving home through Stanbridge at night when he saw a man standing at the junction of Station Road, thumbing a lift. He stopped and the man opened the car door and got into the back seat. The driver asked where his passenger was headed and he silently pointed ahead.
After a few minutes of driving, the driver turned around to offer the man a cigarette. The back-seat was empty. The car had been travelling at some speed and if the door had been opened then the car's interior light should have come on, which it hadn't.
The driver turned the car around and retraced his journey but found nothing. He reported the vanishing hitch hiker to the police who investigated. But there was very little they could do apart from add it to the ever growing list of similar incidents.
Phantom Car Crash Burpham, Surrey
This must be one of the most interesting road ghosts I have come across.
On night of 11th December 2002, the Surrey police received several reports of a car with its headlights blazing that had been seen swerving off the A3 road and down a ditch. The police rushed to the scene of the accident. They did find a crashed car all right with the driver dead at the wheel. However, from the condition of the body, it was estimated that the accident had actually taken place in July, six months earlier. And the headlight switch was set to 'full beam'. The people who reported the accident had, apparently, seen a ghost.
Blue Bell Hill Ghost, Kent
Road ghosts can be quite unnerving as is this one that can be found on the A229, four miles north of Maidstone. She looks like a perfectly normal looking young lady. However, she reveals her supernatural nature by running in front of moving vehicles. The drivers, unable to stop, are convinced that they have run down and probably killed the woman. However, when they check under and around their vehicle there is no body and no sign of any damage to the vehicle.
The description the drivers give to the police of the woman are all very similar. The police have carried out extensive checks both of the area and of the vehicles involved in the 'accidents'. But nothing relating to a possible accident has ever been found and there is never any damage to the vehicles involved.
Ragley Park, Warwickshire
People think of 'road ghosts, particularly, 'phantom hitchhikers', as being a modern phenomena but they have been around for a long time.
At the end of the 19th century, people driving past Ragley Park, would often see an old lady standing by the side of the road. She appeared to want a lift. If they stopped asked where she wanted to go, they would be told a crossroads at Dunnington, about two miles down the road. The woman would get into the vehicle which would drive on to the crossroads where the driver would stop. When the coach door was opened, the vehicle would be empty. The old lady had vanished.
The people living in the area became alarmed by this frequent occurrence so, with picks and shovels, they dug at the place the woman was always seen to stand. There they found a human skeleton. This was buried in a cemetery next to Ragley Park and the rector exorcised the spot where the bones had been discovered. This appears to have allowed the woman to 'move on' because she hasn't been since since.
White Woman Lane Catton, Nr Norwich, Norfolk
There are a few road ghosts that have been seen so frequently over the years that one can find them mentioned on a map. This is one such. White Woman Lane is haunted by a young woman in white who is often seen crossing the lane in the twilight. Some people believe that she is the spectre of a former owner of the local Manor House.
If you want to discover what might be the cause of some of these ghosts, you may wish to check out the What are Ghosts? page!
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