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.