top of page

Scary Winter Nights - (Part 2) Ghost Lake

Ghost Lake.jpg

 .... I need to take you back to when I was a boy, living in a village called Saltwood, close to the seaside.

   From the age of eight, I would fish in a secret pond, not far from my home, which the local children called Ghost Lake. The pond nestled deep in a little, steep-sided valley, and it was surrounded by great oak trees, tall beech trees and a few stunted weeping willows. It was very overgrown and difficult to reach. Its small brick-built paths and little holding ponds; waterfalls and weirs had been over-run by the slow creep of nature. Old rambling rhododendron bushes and blackberry-laden brambles were now in charge of this magical kingdom.

   The pond, hidden and forgotten for so many years, held dark secrets. It concealed two small islands, each about 20 metres in length. One was connected to the mainland by a dropped tree whilst the other had a tiny iron connecting footbridge, now fallen into decay. But with a little bravery, a well balanced small boy or girl was able to edge slowly across the single remaining rusty beam, a metre above the stagnant water.

   When across the broken bridge, and with a lot of searching through the undergrowth and broken trees, this island’s secret was revealed … Two ancient graves; one of a man called William, and the other his dog, named Daisy. Both graves were draped in ivy and deadly nightshade. Dark green moss partially hid their long-forgotten names, whilst weeping alder bushes bowed and knelt in sorrow over the ancient tombstones.

   It was said, by an old farmer, who lived his life nearby, that on winters’ nights you could hear the sound of a ghostly spirit walking with his long-dead dog along the hidden paths that spiralled down to this haunted and darkened pond.

   Well, fifty years ago, on the last day of autumn, time was pushing a warm afternoon towards the chilly winter’s night. And, a gentle breeze blew through the trees, like a giant’s breath blowing out a single candle. The last golden leaves of the season were released from the grip of the tallest beech trees and silently flip-flacked down to the stilled water’s surface below. All around was painted in twilight grey, a special colour only seen at this time of day and this time of year. The air was richly filled with that sweet scent of autumn decay.

   On this very day, my school friend Paul and I had been fishing since mid-morning. And having enjoyed a packed lunch of cheese sandwiches and freshly baked Victoria sponge cake for tea, we really should have been on our way home to the comfort of an open fire and cup of hot chocolate. But we weren’t.

   Now, it must be understood that all young, and some not so young fisher-folk want “just one more cast” of their fishing lines into the water, hoping it will bring the biggest fish of the day to their bait. We were now fishing much, much later than we were allowed.

   In the dark gloom, a thin grey mist started to prowl towards us across the glass-like surface of the water from the islands. Soon we could hardly see each other, let alone our fishing floats, far out in the mist.

   Without warning, we both heard a deep groaning sound coming from the direction of “Grave” Island … Then nothing; all was silent; not a flicker of wind; not another leaf dropped. All that lived seemed to be peering through the thickening veil towards the shadowy distant island.

   I held my breath, and the only thing I could hear was my heart thumping as I remembered the farmer’s folk tale. We froze as a minute seemed like an hour, or was it just a second, until far over to our left, we heard a ghostly rustling, followed by a loud “tink ... tink; clank … clank,” of what sounded to me like a metal leash or collar holding back a wild dog.

   Suddenly there was an explosion of noise and movement, not from the direction of the rustling or clanking, but from Paul.

   ‘RUN! It’s the G-g-g-ghost!’ he stammered as he jumped up and knocked over his rod, backpack, and chair. Then, he started to hop from foot to foot with a look of white terror on his face as he pointed into the mist enveloped bushes. For a moment, I was more frightened by Paul’s appearance than the possible appearance of the ghost with his long-dead dog.

   I joined Paul in his panic.

   ‘Throw the fishing kit behind the hedge,’ I shouted, whilst waving my arms in the direction of the undergrowth behind us.

   With that, chairs, fishing rods, tackle boxes and bait, including maggots and a loaf of bread were thrown into and over the brambles behind us before we started running for our lives.

   With the noise following close behind, we scrambled up a narrow track and over the rotting timbers of an old, dilapidated 5-bar gate. From there, we ran full-pelt down to the stream and across a planked bridge to an upward sloping sheep field, only to be met, once again, by the menacing fog that seemed to be trying to cut-off our escape.      Hardly taking a breath and without looking back, we blindly pushed on, deeper into the murk. Still running, albeit somewhat slower, I now saw the silhouette of a tall, dark figure, accompanied by a large dog, drifting through the mist and down the field towards us. Should we try to scurry back down to the stream and away from the mysterious dark figure coming nearer and nearer, or continue running from the grip of the ghost and his wild dog behind us? What if the phantom and his hound had been able to mysteriously move in front of us?

   Trapped in the middle, we hadn’t the energy to run any further. Our end was near, and we gave up all hope of life. Exhausted, I dropped to my knees and covered my eyes     ... To find out what happed you'll have to buy the Book!

bottom of page