Miltonrigg Woods — A truly Haunted Place
Weather permitting we said… Well, as we finally set off on the two-hour journey from home to Brampton, east of Carlisle, the rain began to fall. Was it an omen attempting to sway us from pending doom, or simply another element designed to muddy the waters when attempting to cypher through the usual mounds of footage, post-investigation?
The green and pleasant views were awe-inspiring as we drove steadily towards the destination. That was before dusk set-in. The group of five ventured on, knowing that ultimately, we would be welcomed by darkness upon our arrival.
Miltonrigg woods is not only a place densely populated by woodland, bluebells, mammals, and various varieties of avifauna, it is a location rich with history. It was for this reason that my team and I had embarked on this pleasant journey north. Our destination was in the heart of the woods, where once-upon a time, hundreds of folk would travel between Carlisle and Newcastle on the now deserted and out of use rail track. Although no longer used in such a capacity, in the early 1900’s (up until the late 1940’s I do believe) the track was a popular source of travel. Be it for commuters, local folk, or even parcel wagons, this track would be the source of transport for many.
It was the afternoon of August 30th, 1926, at 1:18pm when the fateful incident happened. The train driven by J. W. Embleton (an experienced driver of some 37 years — 13 and a half of which were on this very line) was given the authority to cross the line when it noted only too late, a charabang had failed to make the crossing. The vehicle was full of passengers (seven of which died instantly — two being mere infants) and thus, the train struck the vehicle at some 50 miles per hour. The signalmen who perished also in this incident, was later blamed after investigation by the transport secretary (his full report is included on this blog). The rest as they say is history intertwined with urban myth and legend. Or is it? That was what my time here was to find out exactly: Is it true, what the locals say? Do spirits walk these woods at night? Are they somehow connected to that awful accident of 1926?
Venturing through wired fences whist carrying multiple bags of expensive, bulky, heavy equipment I dare say is not a popular pastime for many, myself included. However, this was a necessity and my group and I, upon parking, quickly gathered the equipment together and ventured into the black nothingness of the forest. What secrets would the forest release to this rabble of investigators, eager for confirmation of paranormal activity? I must admit that my failure to acknowledge an off-the-cuff comment by one of the team is only found to be most extraordinary when I look back. Kaytie, a new member of the team having participated in a couple of paranormal investigations, remarked that we must move swiftly to avoid the oncoming train, some distance up the track. Being that I was the driver, I accelerated forwards before parking on a small embankment close to the scene. On our journey home however, when discussing the investigation, the comment was re-introduced into conversation and we discovered that Kaytie was the only member of the team to see this vehicle chugging up the track. Even more mysterious was the fact that we had positioned the team and investigation alongside the track and having spent over three hours in the location, had failed to witness the train passing us. It is a dis-used track after all, and has been for a number of years. And so it was discovered, that this sighting was potentially the first paranormal event of the evening, it was not to be the last.
After setting up ‘camp’. The cameras and equipment were positioned, and I held the night-vision to document the evening as and when I thought appropriate. We began the investigation by initiating the usual safety precautions (I will not put in print our safety procedure, protection chant, or describe in any way, as it is solely for the team and I find, largely more successful if individuals recite their own words of protection and initiations that are important and valued to themselves in situations akin to this). Throughout the evening, all members of the team had access to camera equipment and were shooting at varying times through the investigation. I am yet to receive all of the images and supporting evidence, but I do believe we have caught some rather interesting photographs and video files.
It was in the midst of the first séance that Brian, a regular member of the team accruing over ten investigations over a number of years, shouted out that he had witnessed a dark shadowy figure wandering on the perimeter of our camp. What made the sighting so spectacular was that another member of the team would view a similar spectacle later on in the evening. The figure was around six feet tall and although a shadow, one could see straight through it. It’s translucency inspiring fear immediately into the team. Despite the obvious terror, this was our motive for being there, in the forest, in the middle of the night.
As midnight wore on, the team saw numerous light anomalies soaring through the trees and woodland. Some ventured through the camp, investigating us investigating them it seemed. It was nearing one in the morning when a strange event occurred. Not one but five battery sources died within the same moment. Two Iphone’s, two cameras and one camcorder to be precise. To give a degree of perspective to this strange occurrence, I then changed my camera battery in my Canon DSLR only for it to kill the following two batteries in quick succession, but the fourth of my five batteries then endured without issue for the following two and half hours. The initial three batteries were in no lesser condition than the ‘impenetrable’ fourth, one in-fact was brand new and making his debut in the world of paranormal investigation. All batteries on all of the equipment had been charged fully before the journey so this made for quite a strange event, and one that made the team even more nervous. What was taking our power source and for what eventual means?
We took a break and attempted to re-charge ourselves with a chocolate bar (or two) and some liquid reflection as we viewed the dazzling orbs shooting through the camp with gusto. The next experiment would be using a witchboard, or a Ouija board as it is commonly named. Unfortunately however, despite the nervousness of certain members of the team (Brian has never been at one with the Ouija and was the cameraman for this particular event) the results were far from compelling. The breeze was beginning to build and what with the insects attracted to the lantern light, and the soil blowing on the board itself, it was decided to end the session after thirty minutes or so.
The following experiment proved futile also. Table tipping in the middle of the forest is no picnic! With uneven ground, it was far too unreliable to consider offering any movement as evidence and the table was hastily put away for a later investigation. With the breeze turning to a steady wind and the uneasiness of the team building after yet another sighting of the mysterious ‘shadow man’ we decided to pack up for the night. It was past two in the morning and was getting colder by the minute. Kaytie remarked that we had not used the K2 meter and so it was decided that this would be the perfect experiment to conclude the evening’s work. With our camera’s packed up, equipment loaded and ready to return to the car, we placed the K2 on the returning table, and began asking questions. I directed them initially to Mr W Oliver who we had been informed via the transport secretary’s official report on the accident of 1926, and the results were as successful as that of the Ouija board. As we begun talking amongst ourselves and contemplating the return walk through the darkness to the sanctity of the car, I mentioned that it was not entirely surprising that the K2 was failing to pick up on any energy:
“They do say that the best time to conduct a séance is between the hours of 9pm and midnight”
At that point the K2 lit up to red, indicating a presence was amongst us.
“Ah, so you agree? Thank you”
My excited response was the final direct communication with the dead that evening. The lights flickered away as promptly as they had introduced themselves on that cold July evening in Cumbria. However just as the lights returned one last time to indicate they wanted to bid us farewell, the team vowed to return to this place… A truly haunted forest.