Saltwood to Hythe - Pre Visit Day Trip
Not so much an investigation but one of Ghost Connections exploratory visits in preparation of a full scale investigation in the near future. We have chosen to report this as it had a profound effect on the team on this initial visit and wanted to share it.
Saltwood is, in effect, a quite backwater just off one of the busiest routes in, and out, of England. It clings to wooded hillsides above the coastal resort of Hythe like some barely accessible forgotten village. This is probably just a perception but it certainly has enough hauntings and paranormal happenings recorded to keep it high in the league of those more familiar 'haunted' villages that lay claim to the title of 'spookiest place in the land'.
History was written here when the home of Reginald de Broc was the departure point for four notorious murderers. Their horses hooves are still said to be heard here on the anniversary of the event. It was here that William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville, Reginald Fitz Urze and Richard le Breton rode forth from the castle walls on 29 December 1170 to rid Henry II of that 'turbulent priest' , Thomas Becket. The route they took is still said to echo of the clatter of horses hooves and armoured knights carrying their weapons of war. The first execution of an archbishop by mercenaries of the King had been set on course.
Almost 800 years later another first would be recorded a little further out of the village when in 1963 four people would be scared out of their wits by, what would later be christened, the Mothman stumbled from some trees and launched his winged, low headed form at the group. Other sightings would stem from this area and abroad in the coming years.
Twenty years after this two members of the initial incarnation of Ghost Connections would report a paranormal phenomena of train sounds and smells of smoke from the Slaybrook Tunnel, long disused and lying to the north of the village.
Kim, Paddy and Dave set out to explore this area and found more than they bargained for in the process. Knowing the location of the Mothman sighting the object of the exploration would be to identify the location of the tunnel and surrounding access footpaths and roads as our previous members were remaining tightlipped about disclosure of the location.
A study of maps of the topography would give us an idea of where to go. We say idea as ultimately we would go wrong at least once first! Clearly signed footpaths would lead nowhere as we quickly found ourselves full circle back in the churchyard. Have we mentioned we were attempting this in the dark yet?!
We would first locate the railway bed and yet found the remnants of a pram in the middle of the bed were somewhat spooky. A crashing in the undergrowth noted by Kim and Paddy would go unnoticed by Dave who was deep in concentration on the map.
The second attempt at a mapped out path even described on a walking route in recently published book would lead us over the rail line to a dead end. A search would reveal a footpath winding off into the woods from out path but deliberately blocked with cut pine branches. Was there some forbidden or dangerous area further on into the woods. Some other reputed lair of the beasties?
A backtrack to the road and an further explore would find us on a bridleway, clearly signed, that actually went where the map indicates. A policy of ours is that to maintain night vision torches are an unnecessary hazard and are in the main best avoided. The reasons for this are two fold. They alert our presence to others and they reduce the ability to see in the dark. The investigative reason for this is the practicality of recreating the scene when reports are made as far as possible. If anything is a trick of the light then we will witness it in the same manner as witnesses hopefully.
The area being lit by the occasional street lamp present shadows and discernible shadows on familiar objects. The use of a torch is subsequently required when investigation thoroughly the anomaly witnessed from our perspective. As we walked along the path both Paddy and Dave would come to sudden stop and it was torch time! Upon conversing it would be revealed that they both stopped in their tracks due to the sighting of a person with their face illuminated standing to the side staring right at them. This was something that in the darkness, illuminated by outside sources would have the appearance of a human form. An illumination with a torch revealed the true extent of our vision. It was found quickly that this was a tree illuminated in such a way as to appear as a human form.
Tracking along this route we found a sharp bend and located the remains of a bridge. It was inaccessible but highlighted the old route of the railway at this point. Further along we would find another bridge which could be crossed. An investigation around this found the track bed but vegetation prevented further access in the dark. Strangely the masonry of the bridge would be invisible to even the strongest torchlight. Is it just hidden by vegetation or was there some other unearthly reason?
The current level of the old railway track would seem to be higher than originally constructed and the amount of accrued vegetation would need careful footing to explore further and it was decided that daylight would be best for this. Time was ticking on towards our appointment with our destination for the nights planned investigation so we made our way back.
There was a general air about this area. Not being influenced by previous reports of sightings of giant humanoid insects but there was something about this place that put us on edge. Certainly something that would benefit from more time studying the area. We didn't quite find the tunnel but have eliminated most of the mapped area of the old rail line to Hythe. We know which are to concentrate on next time to locate this and investigate the claims made by our previous members.
You can be sure of a return trip to be reported on these pages.
13th October 2007
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