Aug 11 2012

Oh shit, it’s possibly actually a ghost but it needs spookiness lessons. Oh and Anglezark Moor

I have been guiltily rereading a book called Lancashire Magic and Mystery and the county is apparently so overwhelmed by boggarts, headless horsemen and other such dark nefarious characters I am amazed the Daily Mail has not started a campaign to send them all back somewhere else.

In this book Round Loaf Hill is described as being mysterious, atmospheric and possibly home to modern day covens of witches. I thus want to go to this place very much. I want to see sacrifices (not of animals though, I am a vegetarian, maybe eye of potato and tongue of quorn?)

I also have a suspicion that modern day covens might feature purple tie dyed dresses with elasticated waists and cars with bumper stickers that say ‘My other car is a broomstick’.

The tumulus is hidden deeply on Anglezark moor, there is no foot path, not even so much as a sheep track and my insensibly clad feet sink deeply into dank deep ooze and murky crunchy gorse from which protrude bleak white wooden bones as gnarled and twisted as ravens feet.

So I tell myself as I tramp grimly onwards thinking about the undead whilst stuffing my face with Wotsits and slightly stale Cadburys caramel cake bars, which were reduced at Morrisons. The scenery is spectacular, peak and troughs of harsh mountainous nature at its best, ruined farmsteads, a river with a sudden splash of waterfall, hills collide with the sky.

And there is no one else here. Beyond that hill range we are heading to, look, just over there, lies Chorley, somewhere nearby is Preston. A hundred years ago this view would not have been so pastoral due to the belching red brick chimneys of Wigan also somewhere deep in a valley below us. The modern world encroaches as to find the Iron Age Round Loaf Hill we orienteer using the glinting behemoth telephone masks rising on another ancient hill in front of us.

And then we are here, boots being hungrily slurped by the ooze hiding under the pretty but treacherous green.

And it is good.

There is a cairn at the top- it is a small hill, a tiny little thing, clearly man made but neat and self contained. I look eagerly for witchcraft-to have travelled all this way you must yearn for proper hardcore witchery, not just your neighbours’ cow running dry or in the modern age, your neighbours Renault Clio being hexed to need new windscreen wipers. There is a smashed polystyrene cup on the top, maybe used to transport blood but I suspect lukewarm tea from a thermos. The views are astonishing from somewhere, which is so near population and tameness but somehow beyond. And it stretches for miles and miles and miles.

I peer closely at a piece of wood which might have initials inscribed of someone who is soon to die a mysterious death. But it turns out not to be initials, just marks on wood. There is a rusty lumpiness of metal poking forth from the top but it does not want to come out easily and this hill has suffered enough from people trying to excavate it over the centuries, taking any treasures home and then if they ever existed then being used to prop up that dodgy cupboard in your house in 1897 and in 1901 being flung at the wall and demolished when a foot hit it the way to a chamber pot.

Round Loaf Hill is good and I am glad it has never been officially excavated and hope shitloads of mystery lie underneath.

I have however bought my copy of Lancashire Magic and Mystery with me, the day is yet young and there is a murdered grey clad priest at ancient Headless Cross just up the road in Addington who is just dying to meet us.   Oh. He is late. Or maybe the only sunny day in August is not conductive to meeting the undead when your subconscious is more tuned in to finding a reasonably priced Magnum Enigma.

But it is a waste of petrol to come all this way and not find a ghost so I consult Lancashire Magic and Mystery and hark! There is a pub nearby, the Black Horse Inn, which has been pulling pints for over a thousand years and is clearly literally bogged down in ectoplasm.


Also I fancy a pint. Ghosts are a good excuse.

Hmm. Ghosts would not appear anywhere that has this carpet. Or plays this music. Unless they died on the way to a Now That’s What I Call Music Through The Eighties concert. There is a quiz machine flashing angry neon in the corner where I envisaged gnarled floorboards, a trapdoor and a flitting hooded shadow. The smell of fish and chips pervades the once dank gloomy corners where now lie cardboard cutouts advertising a new form of Carling that might have a slight taste of lime. There are to be fair many real ales at the bar but the only cider is Strongbow, which might make me haunt the fucking place too. That’ll learn ’em.

There are whimsical things painted on the wall and there is no way there is or has ever been a ghost here.


I have read eight pages of the Chorley Advertiser then decide to get another drink. I am at the bar from which my seat is clearly visible. I return and my paper is now sat with the front page facing me. I was reading something boring about Tiny Acorns nursery and suddenly a blast from the five minutes and eight pages past ago and I am now suddenly spookily reading again about Bradley Wiggins having his hair cut at a local barbers as the paper is neatly back at the front page instead of the sprawled flurry I left it in when I went to the bar. The bar visible from my seat and the flustered bar man who has been shooting around fielding questions about sticky toffee pudding and carting traditional pie and chips about has been nowhere near. It is a hot still day.

Lancashire Magic and Mystery talks about unexplained occurrences at the pub which I took to mean the price of their house white but I was expecting (as documented in the aforementioned book) ghostly cold caressing hands not such a dull mystery it is almost embarrassing and boring to even mention like talking about a particularly heavy period or a long and confusing dream.



I did not expect a paper to be neatly folded back to the front page. I can’t utterly swear I did not do it myself but as an avid reader of unfamiliar local newspapers it would not be something I would do when at page eight and stopping briefly to get a glass of wine. It was my second, not my thirtieth drink (sadly) and this will remain a tragically prosaic mystery.


Why ghost, did you not do something creepy at the ancient satanic mound? Why did you not fling something in the ancient pub that wanted to be Wetherspoons to make it certain? Now I have the bloody undead weirdly messed up in my head with Bradley Wiggan’s sideburns, something about a bloody nursery and citrus flavoured beer.  The uncertainty and urbanity of it all annoys me but there is still the intrigue.

Ghost. If you are reading this, I can offer you a lift in a battered Kia to a dark hump in the midst of a moor where a ghost would be very well suited to lurking. But it is a bit chilly out and you obviously prefer to sit back, chill out and cause ever so slight confusion very now and then. Your horizons are small, Ghost but to be fair maybe you just don’t like the cold.