The A616 Stockbridge bypass on the edge of lonely moorlands in South Yorkshire, has acquired something of a sinister reputation since its opening in 1988. Some consider it cursed as it has been the scene of many road traffic accidents resulting in several fatalities and hundreds of injuries. It also boasts some rather eerie hauntings and could be considered the most haunted road in England!
Phantoms started to be reported even when the road was under construction in 1987. A truck driver at a depot close to the bypass reported that he and workmates often heard 'small voices' singing late at night, though they could never find out the source of the singing or make out what the song was. To add weight to their story further sightings came from two security guards patrolling the unfinished bypass who reported seeing what they described as 'young children in mediaeval clothing' dancing in a ring around an electricity pylon. By the time the men stopped their vehicle to investigate the small figures had vanished, into the night, leaving no footprints!
On another occasion, in the early hours of the morning, these same security men observed a figure on a newly built bridge over the by-pass. They directed full beam of their van at the figure. It was wearing a long cloak, and appeared to have no head and spookily the headlights of the vehicle passed right through it! The phantom then disappeared. Both men who were fit and strong and rugby players admitted to being totally terrified.
Whilst we might dismiss some of these reports has being down to an over active imagination we cannot ignore those of two police officers - who not prone to exaggeration and are trained observers.
The two were patrolling the unfinished road when they stopped their police car to check there was no sign or thieves or vandals. One of the officers, Police Constable Dick Ellis suddenly felt cold and uneasy, and then glimpsed a figure standing by his side of the car. In an instance, it was standing at the other side of the car, pressing itself against the window. Ellis's companion, Special Constable John Beet, let out a yell of surprised alarm. The figure grinned at him. 'It was like something out of Dickens' time', wearing a cravat and waistcoat' he said. It stared at him and then was gone in a split second.
The puzzled police officers immediately searched the area but found no trace of anyone. The sightings have continued throughout the years.
A local historian has traced the history of the area and discovered that the area already had a reputation for being haunted and that there had been many sightings of a hooded figure prior to the construction of the bypass.
He has also collected eye witness accounts over the years of various ghostly figures in the area.
One woman reported that she and her husband whilst driving on the road sighted a figure running in a field next to it. It was 'just a grey outline of a person and was not quite touching the ground. it leapt from the field over an embankment landing in the road in front of our car' she said. They screeched to a halt too late to avoid an impact, but the figure' just seemed to melt into the car'. On another occasion two joggers, father and son reported seeing a figure wearing a dark brown hood with a cape covering his body walking towards them. Both the jogger and his son felt the hair stand up on the back of their neck, and could smell something they described as 'really musty'. They noted that the figure had a 'blank face'.
There have also been numerous reports of a spectral woman in white and mysterious fairy-like children seen in the area.
The A616 is a road that leaves many questions unanswered and is of course not a road to travel late at night - alone!
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