Haunted roads abound and can be found all over the world, their mysteries running off right along those dark stretches of pavement. What is supposedly the most haunted road in England seems to be at first rather mundane by all appearances. Called the Stocksbridge Bypass, it is just a short stretch of only 5 miles of a larger road called the A616, which connects Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire with the M1 motorway at Junction 30 then again from Junction 35A through to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. This small section of road was opened in 1988, and is at first glance simply a nondescript stretch of pavement that connects the M1 with the Woodhead Pass and the A616, and it looks like just any other mundane, ordinary road among many in the vicinity. Yet, beginning from its construction there have been all manner of paranormal tales surrounding this particular road, to the point that it is widely considered to be one of the most haunted stretches of road in not only England, but all of Britain.
From when the building of the bypass was very first started there were oddities surrounding it, such as freak accidents and construction incidents, but the story of the ghostly character of this place really picks up on September 8, 1987. It was on this evening that two security officers with the construction company were out doing their rounds when they encountered something very bizarre in the area. At approximately 12:30 AM they were reportedly driving near a steelwork nearby when they came across what they would claim were the spectral glowing apparitions of two children in old-fashioned looking clothing playing and prancing about right in the middle of the construction site. Baffled, the two men stopped their vehicle and approached the kids, who then vanished into thin air to leave behind no footprints in the mud covering the area. The two guards called in the bizarre incident, and although their supervisor did not believe them, some other workers admitted to having heard the strange sound of the laughter and singing of children on the site some nights. One of these workers would later say of the anomalous voices:
It started on freezing cold nights and would continue on and off until the early hours on a few nights. We could not work out what the song was but it sounded like a group of small voices and it seemed to be coming from the woods. It was a really spooky and we had a strong feeling that someone was watching us all the time.
On the evening of that very same day, the same two guards were out on patrol again through the same general area when they came across what they described as a very tall hooded figure that they said looked like a monk, which hovered over the ground. According to the witnesses, when they approached the mysterious figure it evaporated right before their eyes in the beams of the headlights. Once again they told their supervisor, and this time police came out on suspicions that there were trespassers about, but no sign of anyone could be found. However, police would then be contacted by a priest named Stuart Brindley, who told them that the security guards had come to his church demanding that an exorcism be performed on the construction site.
It was all enough that the police sent Police Constable Dick Ellis and Special Constable John Beet to the construction site to scope it out for the night in a stakeout meant to find if anyone was snooping around scaring the security guards, and they apparently did not have long to wait before they had their own strange encounter. As they sat there in that car in near total darkness, one of the officers became inexplicably unsettled and panicked, later saying that he had felt as if someone had walked over his grave. They say that they were then startled when a dark, unusually dressed figure pressed against one of the vehicle’s doors. Any thoughts the officers may have had that this was just a normal intruder were dashed when it then allegedly vanished to appear on the other side of the car. Ellis would say of the outlandish encounter:
What was so odd I went cold without knowing what was the matter. Then a few seconds after I had another feeling that someone was stood at the side of me and I turned my head slowly and could see that there was something stood by the side of the car. But as I turned quickly around there was nothing there. And at that very moment John let out such a scream and hit me with him arm and I looked around and could see there was somebody stood there next to the car! As Dick was looking out of his window I was just gazing up onto the banking, and I just turned to Dick and shouted and there was this chap just stood there, next to the car. It was really weird. To me, from what I saw of him, it sort of connected to the 1820s, that sort of era. I just looked at its face which I presumed was that of it man, and it was just literally staring at me. I only saw the face for a split second. It looked as if he had got some kind of cravat on, and a waistcoat. It looked like something out of Dickens’ time, but as I looked again and tried to focus it was gone. There was definitely something there, but I can’t explain it. I might have dismissed it as my imagination but my partner saw it and had the identical eerie feeling at the same time. It was definitely unnerving and it wasn’t a publicity stunt as was claimed at the time, we don’t do that sort of thing in the police force.
When they frantically tried to start the car up, it refused to start, leaving them there in a panic wondering what was out there circling them in the dark, and soon there was inexplicable banging on the vehicle with such force that it sent shudders through the whole of it. The car would finally start and they would tear out of there as fast as they could. As they drove, they claimed that they heard something moving about in the trunk of the vehicle, but it would turn out to be empty. Throughout the entire ordeal the two policemen claimed that they had felt an acute, inexplicable fear run through them, of which one of them would say, “It was not that (fear) which one has when you are about to encounter danger – but worse, it was the kind where you have absolutely no control over … a feeling of dread.” In 1988 there would be another report from a resident named Graham Brooks, who was training to enter the London Marathon by running along the bypass every day. One day he was running along his usual route when he had an unexplained experience, of which he says:
I could normally complete the run in about thirty minutes but on this occasion my son asked if he could come with me…We reached the church in about three quarters of an hour but Nigel kept getting the stitch so on the way back I ran on to make time until he caught me up. I was not tired because I was not running at my normal speed and it was dusk at the time but not dark. As we approached a layby coming towards Wortley village I suddenly saw a chap walking with his back towards the oncoming traffic. I looked at this figure and my brain just could not take in what I was seeing. He was dressed in what I would say was eighteenth century costume and wore a dark brown hood with a cape covering his body. He was walking in the ground, not on the level of the road itself and I just could not make out what I was seeing. Then I looked at him directly and saw his face. He was carrying a bag and it was slithering along the surface of the road. It was a dark coloured bag with a chain on it and Nigel said he could hear the chain rattling on the ground. I just gasped and said “who is this silly person?” and realised my son was seeing him too, and at that moment the hairs on the back of both of our heads just stood on end and we could smell something really musty just like we were standing in an antique shop. I saw him clearly and was looking directly at him, probably no more than fifty yards away from me with his face towards me and his back to the traffic. He was so close I could see that every half-inch down the cape there was a button, it was that clear. It was a long cape, dark brown in colour and very worn, with a “lived in” look about it; it was so real you could have walked up and touched it. He walked straight past us as we stood there amazed in the middle of the road. Then a lorry came with its lights on and he just disappeared.
Since then the Stocksbridge Bypass has been plagued by a higher than average concentration of freak accidents and highway fatalities, as well as all manner of reports of brushes with the paranormal. Drivers have reported seeing ghostly children, or of being menaced by a phantom monk with glowing eyes or even a massive demon hound, with most of this activity focused on a place called Pearoyd Bridge. Such weird encounters have happened right up into the present, such as one incident by a witness named Judy Simpson, who was driving along the bypass in July of 1990 with her husband when she saw something very weird, of which she says:
I just saw this figure bolting or jogging in the middle of the field on the left of the road, I couldn’t actually see an outline or any facial expression and there were no clothes as such, it was just a grey outline of a person. I could see a head and shoulders, with arms and legs flying everywhere. It was just running aimlessly across the field and I thought it was a jogger until I realised that it wasn’t actually touching the ground. It was around three feet above it. There is an embankment that comes up to the road and it leapt from the field over the embankment and landed in the middle of the road in front of us. It seemed to hit the car and just vanished. I just screeched to a stop and it just seemed to melt into the car and all of a sudden it was gone. I looked at David and said “What’s happened? It’s just gone,” and we got out and looked around but we could not find any trace of anything. We were both left really shocked and upset and I could not believe what had happened. All I could think was that it must have been a ghost, whatever a ghost is.
Another was reported by a supermarket deputy manager Paul Ford who says he was driving through with his wife on New Year’s Eve of 1997 and says of his encounter:
From a distance it looked like someone trying to cross the road but as I got nearer I could see it was like a man in a long cloak. Then I realised it had no face and it was just hovering above the road. I just slammed the brakes on and swerved to avoid hitting it, and it was only through Jane grabbing the wheel that we managed to stop the car from crashing. If my wife hadn’t have been in the car we could have been killed or seriously injured and it left both of us badly shaken up. It was a very frightening experience and I think it might explain why there have been so many accidents on that road.
There have also been paranormal investigators who have been thoroughly spooked by this place, such as Richard Jones of Most Haunted investigated, who supposedly was utterly terrified of the road and refused to go back, naming it one of the scariest places in England. What is going on with this road? The most common explanation is that it is not the road itself, but rather the land it lies upon that is the problem. This place has various legends surrounding it, such as that it is littered with mines into which many children have vanished and even tales of the grave of a monk lying out in the countryside. Perhaps the construction of the road upset something here? In the end, whatever the reason might be this is a stretch of road that has managed to attract all manner of strangeness to it.