Halloween: Check Out These Eerie Excursions to Get You in the Mood This October
With the days turning colder and shorter, it usually signals the fact that Halloween is fast approaching. Here at BIKE-Mag, we’ve started to get in the mood for the end of the month by putting together a list of ghoulish cycle routes to visit this October.
Jay’s Grave – Dartmoor
Dartmoor folklore is filled with lurid tales of headless horsemen, ghosts, pixies and witchcraft which gives the bleak, unforgiving landscape of the moors a rather a sinister premonition.
One spot in particular that combines a challenging cycling route with tales of the supernatural is Jay’s Grave. Situated about a mile from Hound Tor, there is small burial mound next to the road which is thought to be the resting place of a suicide victim from the 18th century.
It has been the subject of deep local legend for hundreds of years, with the spookiest tale including several motorists seeing a kneeling figure beside the grave at night. There is also the mystery of who places fresh flowers atop the burial mound every morning to this date, with no one yet to confess to doing so.
Around the area you will find typically stunning views of rolling Dartmoor hillsides, dramatic rock formations and quaint local villages. The Warren House Inn is a perfect stop off after some difficult surrounding climbs, and it is the highest pub in the south of England. Legend has it that the open fire inside has never gone out since opening in the 19th century, making it cosy place to visit this Halloween.
Epping Forest – Essex
Epping Forest is one the few very large ancient forests left in the south-east of England, and has long been associated with a haunted history.
Most notably, notorious highwayman Dick Turpin hid there in the early 1700s, and more than a dozen murder victims have been discovered in the woods since the 1960s. Time has merged fact and fiction creating a local legend, with many visitors saying they have witnessed the ghost of Turpin himself, while others say the wailing of his victims can be heard in the distance at night.
Elsewhere on a slip road at High Beech, a very strange phenomenon occurs. If you park your car at the bottom of the hill at night and turn the engine off, the car can be seen to roll slowly uphill. Local legend has it that the car is being pulled towards an ancient tree by a hangman’s noose. The tree itself is believed to be the site of a hanging either of an innocent man who was mistakenly convicted or of three witches.
Epping Forest has 284km of shared-use paths which makes it a great place to explore by bike, particularly in the autumn where the floor is blanketed by vibrant hues of yellow and red leaves.
Pendle Hill – Lancashire
Pendle Hill was the centre of notorious allegations of murder by witchcraft in 1612 against 12 people which led to ten of them being hung in Lancaster.
The horror began in the area around the hill in 1612 when local people died of mysterious illnesses, milk turned sour, and cattle died. Since then, ghosts of the victims are said to roam the hills are night. Many local people out right refuse to go near the area after dark, but it remains a hotspot around Halloween for thrill-seekers.
In an unsettling Ouija board experiment carried out at the bottom of Malkin Tower, the old home of two of the notorious witches, a random fellow tooth landed on the table, according to staff at ghost hunting team Haunted Happenings. They also say they have picked up on other ghosts in the area including children, airmen whose planes were shot down during the war, and a number of other people who have previously died on the hill.
Aside from the supernatural happenings, Pendle offers one of the best places to cycle in the country. Why not try the Grand Tour of Pendle – a 35km road route meandering through picturesque villages such as Barley, Newchurch, and Fence, while also offering some tougher climbs in places that offer breathtaking views of the north-west. Elsewhere, there are a number of rugged mountain biking routes for those who like to explore a more secluded path.
The Skirrid Inn – Black Mountains
Situated at the foothills of the Black Mountains in South Wales, the Skirrid Inn is thought to be the oldest pub in Wales.
The first floor of the inn was formerly a courtroom used to trie for serious criminal offences. Offenders were often given capital punishment, and local legend claims that over 180 felons have been hung from an oak beam over the staircase; the markings of the rope can still be seen today.
It is widely known as one of the most haunted ghost spots in the UK, while other strange phenomena have included flying glasses, the strong smell of perfume and guests feeling as if they are being strangled. If unsettling tales of supernatural happenings are what you are after this Halloween, there are few places more rich in local legend.
The surrounding area also offers some of the most dramatic scenery in the UK, with the Brecon Beacons National Park situated just west of the Skirrid Inn. The pub is also very close to the famous Black Mountains, which offers spectacular cycle routes and challenging climbs.