PHANTOMS, GHOSTS & GHOULS

−−− BY LINZI DAVIES −−−

Halloween is said to be the time when the veil between this world and the ‘afterlife’ is at its thinnest, possibly allowing us to glimpse the unexplainable. Whether we believe in ghosts or not, many of us have had experiences in our lives which are difficult to explain and defy simple logic. 

Everybody has heard of haunted houses, but the phenomenon of ‘haunted highways’ is also reported around Britain. Driving down quiet roads in the dark can feel spooky enough without sightings of phantoms, ghosts, and ghouls!

In this feature we look at some of the most haunted highways in the UK, and some of Yorkshire’s scariest houses!

Haunted Highways

Stocksbridge Bypass, Sheffield

Top of the list of most haunted roads in the UK is right here in Yorkshire! Stocksbridge Bypass gained a ghostly reputation before it was even built, with security guards looking after the construction site in 1988 witnessing spooky events! They were startled to see children playing in the middle of the site one evening, but as they approached the children disappeared and there were no footprints left in the mud where they had been seen. 

In more recent years, drivers have reported spotting a monk staring across the valley, with some even claiming he has appeared inside their vehicle! Stocksbridge Bypass is considered one of the most terrifying roads to drive on and has been dubbed the ‘killer road’ due to the large amount of accidents and sadly large number of fatalities, which many blame on supernatural forces.

B1249 between Driffield and Staxton Hill

This Yorkshire road is notoriously haunted by a famous creature normally only found in horror movies. In the 60’s a lorry driver was left screaming in terror when a hairy werewolf with red eyes tried to smash its way through his windscreen! A woman also described seeing a ‘dog’ bigger than her car and with a more human face, in 2016. Other eyewitnesses claim they have seen something with the body of a wolf but walking upright like a human. 

This area was roamed by real wolves up to the 15th century when much of it was wooded farmland. They disappeared as they were hunted to extinction – or were they?

Platt Lane, Lancashire

Travel across the Pennines and there are other roads that can give you a scare – and not just because you have travelled into the red rose county! Motorists travelling along Platt Lane in Westhoughton have claimed to have seen eyes glaring at them out of the hedgerows, and others have seen spectral miners pulling coal wagons alongside the road. 

In 1910, this area was the site of the Pretoria pit tragedy in which 344 miners sadly lost their lives. Are some of these poor souls trapped reliving the day to day monotony of their work, which tragically cut their lives short so dramatically? 

A666, Bolton

666 the number of the beast. Is this the only reason why the A666 is nicknamed ‘The Devil’s Highway’? It was almost inevitable that this road would be haunted with a number like that! The ghost who terrorises drivers on this road has been blamed for numerous accidents and has even been caught on camera! 

The hunched over spook which is regularly spotted limping along the side of the road was glimpsed on dashcam footage in 2015 where it seems to appear out of nowhere on the deserted highway. The passenger can be heard crying for help whilst the shadowy white figure slowly approaches the petrified driver!

The Old Tay Bridge, Dundee

Like many other haunted places, the Old Tay Bridge is the site of tragedy. In 1879, all 75 passengers on a train were killed whilst travelling over the bridge when a violent winter storm caused the structure to collapse. The six-carriage train plummeted into the icy waters of the Tay below. 

This tragedy seems to be replayed annually on the anniversary, as a phantom train can be seen crossing the old bridge at the site of the disaster, and locals have reported hearing the chilling screams of the victims. 

M6 motorway

Many of our country’s roads have been in existence for over 2000 years, having originally been built by the Romans during their occupation of England in 55BC. Over time they have simply been remodelled using modern materials and extended. With such vast history it is no surprise that many seemingly have remnants of times past ingrained upon them. One such example is the M6 on which motorists have seen lots of unusual and unexplained phenomenon including Roman soldiers marching across the road.

Hair-Raising Houses

30 East Drive, Pontefract

This ex-council house in Pontefract has been voted the most haunted house in Britain, and the owner himself won’t even stay there! The filmmaker first saw the house when he was making a film about the hauntings and ended up buying it. It hasn’t been lived in for years and retains its 1970’s décor, but the owner does allow ghost hunters to spend the night there – strictly at their own risk! 

In the late 1960’s, poltergeist activity began in the house and became so bad that the Pritchard family fled their own home. The spirit who terrorises the property is said to be that of a Cluniac monk who was hung for rape and murder in the 16th century and thrown down the well that the house is built over. 

Burton Agnes Hall, Driffield

This Elizabethan manor house is haunted by Anne Griffith, the daughter of Sir Henry Griffith who built the house. In 1620, Anne was attacked. On her deathbed she claimed that she could never rest unless part of her remained in the house, so her family agreed that her severed head would be kept within the building. Over the years, attempts have been made to dispose of the gruesome relic, but with dire consequences said to be caused by her angry spirit. The skull is now apparently safely blocked up within the walls of the hall.

The Fleece Inn, Elland

As well as having the accolade of the most haunted house in Britain, Yorkshire is also home to the most haunted pub. The Fleece Inn in Elland has been home to all sorts of events in its 400-year history and stories of murders, secret tunnels and headless horsemen all lend credence to the title. Modern day landlords have witnessed poltergeist activity such as glasses falling off shelves and shadowy figures crossing corridors – who knows what you might see after a few drinks!

Hodroyd Hall, Barnsley

Grade II listed Hodroyd Hall is now split into three different homes. A building has been on this site since the 12th century and residents have been spooked by sightings of a nun and a monk. There is also the spirit of a Dr Bell who is spotted regularly on the staircase, but the most horrifying apparition is that of a former kitchen maid who was murdered and burnt in one of the old fireplaces. 

The Treasurer’s House, York

Treasurer’s House was built on the site of a Roman road and is now owned by National Trust and run as a museum. In the 1950’s a plumbing apprentice Harry Martindale was in the cellar repairing a pipe when he heard a noise. The musical sound grew louder as it seemed to get closer. Harry couldn’t believe his eyes when he looked down and saw pairs of Roman soldiers blowing trumpets marching past the bottom of his ladder. Tours of the cellar are still run to this day to see if the soldiers re-appear to visitors.

MOVIES

−−− BY LINZI DAVIES −−−

Halloween is sure to look very different this year for many families as Covid-19 restrictions continue. Parents will be reluctant to let their little ones trick or treat, and the usual events and parties have been cancelled. With all the disruption to our lives in 2020 it is important for children to have fun, so we just have to be creative and find a different way of doing things!

There are activities such as crafting creepy pumpkins and making ghost paper chains which all make for a fun evening. After all the hijinks though what is better than getting comfy on the sofa with some snacks to watch a spooky movie? 

Here is our list of the best family movies for a ‘chilling’ Halloween!

The Classics

Re-live your own childhood with the kids with these films which never get old!

Ghostbusters

A favourite of many, Ghostbusters sees 4 scientists combine their talents as they set up a business to bust supernatural beings terrorising the residents of New York. They are soon swamped with work as they discover a gateway to another dimension. There are ghosts of all shapes and sizes including the infamous Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and plenty of laughs. The film is not only full of spooks but great actors including Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Sigourney Weaver.

PG but may not be suitable for younger children

Beetlejuice

A Tim Burton masterpiece, Beetlejuice is about a pair of ghosts who want to scare off the new family who move into their home after their death. They summon Beetlejuice to help them in their endeavours but get more than they bargained for as he is prepared to go to more extreme lengths than the kind couple as they navigate their new existence in the afterlife. Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder star in this dark but comedic movie. 

Rated 15 so one to watch with the older kids

The Witches

This Roald Dahl adaptation sees young boy Luke accidentally witness a convention of witches in the hotel he is staying at with his Grandmother. The Grand High Witch reveals her plan to turn all children into mice, and when she finds out that he has overheard the plan they test the magic potion on him. Turned into a rodent, Luke must enlist the help of his gran and the hotel manager to fight back against the witches. Starring Rowan Atkinson and Angelica Houston.

PG

Hocus Pocus

Another classic featuring witches, Hocus Pocus finds teenager Max exploring an abandoned house with his friends. He accidentally frees a coven of witches and the trio must suck the souls of every child in Salem to continue living. They have been imprisoned for 300 years and try to acclimatise to the 20th century which raises plenty of laughs at their reaction to Halloween now being a holiday! Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Thora Birch. 

PG

Casper

Casper is a friendly ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. A Paranormal Investigator arrives to communicate with him and brings his teenage daughter along. Casper falls in love with Kat, but their relationship is complicated by his transparent state and his mischievous ghost uncles! Kat helps Casper to deal with his unfinished business in this heart-warming tale of love and friendship. Stars Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman.

PG

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Some people argue whether this is a Halloween or a Christmas movie. I think it is fab to watch from October onwards! Jack Skellington is Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king and has become bored with the same yearly routine of scaring people in the real world. He accidentally stumbles upon Christmastown and plots to take over the role of Santa Claus. 

PG

Modern Movies

Scoob!

This brand-new film delves into the beginnings of Mystery Inc. who originally met on Halloween night. Young Shaggy adopts stray dog Scooby Dooby Doo and on Halloween they meet three young detectives. When they venture into a haunted house they capture and unmask a ‘ghost’. Ten years later they go into business together and the usual Scooby Doo adventures truly begin. There are plenty of Easter eggs in this film for fans of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons too.

PG

The Addams Family

This modern CGI version of the classic features all the members of this strange, kooky family including parents Gomez and Morticia, children Pugsley and Wednesday, Uncle Fester and Thing. Full of fun, the film has plenty of big names providing the voices such as Charlize Theron, Bette Midler, and Snoop Dog.

PG

The House With a Clock in Its Walls

Based on a novel by John Bellairs, this story follows an orphan sent to live with is eccentric uncle. The creaky old house has a mysterious ticking noise and orphan Lewis soon learns that his oddball uncle Jonathan and neighbour Mrs Zimmerman are witches. Lewis inadvertently awakens the dead and is dragged into a world of witches, warlocks, and ancient rivalries. Stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.

12A so one for slightly older kids

Toy Story of Terror

The most popular of Pixar franchises, Toy Story of Terror is full of the warmth, humour and references you would expect in this short Halloween special. Mr Potato Head goes missing at a roadside motel, so Andy and the rest of the toys embark on a spooky adventure to rescue him.

U

Room on the Broom

This short film is an adaptation of the book by Julia Donaldson. The not so scary witch is friendly and kind to all the animals who ask for a ride on her broom as she travels along, and the rhyming narration makes it a delight for young children.

U

Coraline

Young girl Coraline discovers a parallel universe where there is an alternative version of her family. They tempt her with big promises, and she is sorely tempted by the seemingly improved version. However, the reality is far more dangerous than she expects. Based on the book, this movie is quite sinister and dark in places so may not be suitable for children under the age of 9.

PG

Hotel Transylvania

Dracula’s resort for monsters and mythical creatures, Hotel Transylvania, is a place for them to relax without worrying about humans. They all descend for a special weekend to celebrate the 118th birthday of Dracula’s daughter Mavis, but a human accidentally discovers the hotel with hilarious consequences. Wittily written from the point of view of the monsters, it is the humans who are the bad guys in this film.

PG

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