No­to­ri­ous lo­ca­tions

Fortean Times - - Letters - Miriam Hawkins Wake­field, West York­shire

About nine at night on a blus­tery spring evening around five years ago, I was a pas­sen­ger in the front seat of a car be­ing driven home by my step­son. On a stretch of old Ro­man road be­tween Don­caster and Wake­field in York­shire, bor­dered on both sides by wood­land, I was talk­ing to my step­son when I saw in my pe­riph­eral vi­sion a hu­man-shaped fig­ure run­ning across the road and caught in the head­lights of our car and an­other trav­el­ling in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. It took a few sec­onds for me to reg­is­ter what I thought would be an in­evitable col­li­sion, then to reg­is­ter that noth­ing of the kind had hap­pened. My step­son had not seen any­thing. The fig­ure I saw was a black sil­hou­ette and its move­ments very jerky like an old cin­ema reel. I men­tioned what I had seen to my step­son and he said the road was “no­to­ri­ous” for sim­i­lar sight­ings and for fa­tal crashes.

The sec­ond strange in­ci­dent hap­pened in broad day­light. I was vis­it­ing my mother who lives in a vil­lage called Dry­brook in the For­est of Dean, Glouces­ter­shire. It was a pleas­ant day – early sum­mer, I think, as there was full leaf cover on the trees – and I had de­cided to go for a walk along the road head­ing past the lo­cal church. It is bor­dered by wood­land on both sides, a very busy two-way high­way, much used by lor­ries avoid­ing tolls on the Sev­ern Bridge. There was no pave­ment and I was start­ing to feel it would be safer to get off the grass verge and head into the woods.

I was about to take a path into the woods when I no­ticed a man on the path ahead of me around 50 to 100 yards from the road – far enough away that I could not see his face clearly but close enough to as­sess he was a heavy-set man in his 40s wear­ing track­suit bot­toms and a T-shirt. He headed to­wards the un­der­growth and tree line in a slightly odd way, and I won­dered what he was do­ing. I fig­ured he might be with a dog, go­ing to re­lieve him­self per­haps… I hung back a bit be­cause I was sud­denly con­scious of be­ing a lone fe­male.

As I ap­proached the point where he had van­ished, I scanned the un­der­growth, but he had dis­ap­peared. I then re­alised that the un­der­growth of bracken and bram­bles was so dense that he would have caught his cloth­ing on it and made a lot of noise, whereas he seemed to have melted away with no sound. He never reap­peared and it would have been tricky for him not to dou­ble back on him­self at any point – and he would have to have moved very fast to reach a dif­fer­ent path once clear of the woods. When I told my mother what I had seen, she said the stretch of road was an­other “no­to­ri­ous” crash site.

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