Halloween is nearly upon us, which means scary stories are being passed around. For drivers, one of the spine-shivering stories to be told is about the A616 Stocksbridge Bypass – believed to be the most haunted road in Britain.
Locals in this part of south Yorkshire claim a group of phantom children can be heard singing “ring a ring of roses” by the electricity pylons, a monk is said to float around, literally, and reports speak of a leaping ghoul who has been known to hitch a ride in passing cars.
Some years ago I went to investigate, and while I didn’t experience any paranormal activity, many of the regulars at The Silver Fox pub had tales of unusual events on the road. They also spoke of ‘George’ the pub’s own poltergeist who likes to throw pint pots around the place.
In 1987, as the road was nearing completion security staff reported strange goings on near the steelworks. Two security officers said they saw children dressed in old-fashioned clothes sitting up near one of the electricity pylons one evening in September of that year. As the men approached, the children vanished. The following evening the same security officers saw a monk perched upon the half-built bridge. They were sufficiently spooked to contact the local priest, and asked whether he would perform an exorcism of the area.
It caused enough of a commotion that tater that month two police officers went to investigate the scene. PC Dick Ellis and Special Constable John Beet drove up to the bridge in their Vauxhall Astra patrol car. They described the feeling of a sudden chill coming over them, “as if someone had walked over my grave” said PC Ellis. Ellis looked out of his window and saw a strange figure right next to the car. Beet then looked out of his side window and saw the same figure. The mysterious man appeared to be dressed in a monk’s habit. When the officers stepped out of the car to confront the figure, it vanished.
Centuries ago the area was home to monastery farms. Legend has it one monk left the church to work as a groundsman at the nearby Underbank Hall. When he died he was buried on unhallowed ground. Could this be the monk said to drift around the bypass? And somewhat soberingly, it is little more than a century ago that the exploitation of children in the mines of Yorkshire was common practice. Might these be the phantom children who sing their songs?
Since it opened the road has seen a number of fatal accidents and it’s referred to by locals as “the death road”. Speed cameras were introduced to reduce the accident rate.
If you fancy a road trip with added scare this Halloween then head to Stocksbridge. If you dare.
Nik Berg is the founder of Detour