posted on Apr, 28 2018 @ 07:46 AM
This is not my tale but I'll pass it on:
This is a personal experience; the closest I have been to the surreal and unexplainable. Today, half a century later, I am no closer to the truth than
then. Make of the following what you will…
A season or two had passed before I returned to the river and the place where I grew up. The new tenants were a large family, not unknown in the river
valley and I secretly –and rather unkindly I suppose, wondered, what the sleeping arrangements must have been?
Les Knight, the head of the household, was a farm labourer, very worthy of his hire, whose small but tough, wiry frame knew nothing but hard work and
toil. He permanently wore a beret on the side of his head, perhaps a retainer from wartime service days, had incredibly kind eyes and gentle
expression-and spoke the Queens’ English with quiet, utter perfection.
Mrs Knight was somewhat taller, very thin and dark-eyed, possessing a violent shock of once-black-but tinged with grey, thick wavy hair; entirely
natural but nevertheless, somewhat intimidating to children with a fertile imagination! In fact, years before it was widely held amongst us that Mrs.
Knight was a witch (quite untrue) and possessed many mystical powers. Her mere presence on the bus would command 100% respect mixed with fear and
utter silence from all the schoolchildren, to the complete mystification of their parents! The Knight family were in fact, most kind people who always
welcomed me into their home,-but such is the imagination of the young..
The house by the bridge was originally built in the late eighteenth or nineteenth century as a gamekeepers lodge for the estate, but now a tied
cottage to one of the estate farms. Much later-I think 1901 or 1903, a small, four-square stable was added next to the house a few yards away, both
buildings set inside the gate and adjacent to the road. A rough, dusty gravel path was outside.
The stable was largely used for storage, much as we had done, but Les had had a Lister diesel generator installed in the rearmost part, to supply the
luxury of electric light to the house! The Lister was only cranked up and run during the evening time and depite the exhaust being muffled with an old
milk churn outside, you could hear the rapid but steady ‘tonk-tonk-tonk-tonk’ for miles, both up-and down river!
Access to the front part of the stable was by means of a very heavily made oak door and huge iron latch. The door always stuck slightly in the frame
and always groaned a bit of a judder when initially pushed open. It probably still does. Once inside and a yard-or two in front, was a most sturdily
built, wooden step ladder of five rungs about two feet width, leading to the upper loft part where we once housed all kinds of fowl. Here, Les had
divided the loft area with a crude partition of vertical wooden planks, with a door for access opposite the top of the trap entrance. On the other
side of the divider door, on the right-hand side, was a small bunk bed and some rudimentary pieces of furniture, these appointments completed by an
ancient Victorian framed print on the wall! Fixed to the wall was a modified cycle lamp, powered by a 12volt car battery and toggle switch. Simple,
but essentially, very effective.
Les knew that I liked to fish the witching hours for peal and had made this simple refuge for when the fishing was hard going and I could come back
for a rest. He was a thoughtful and very kind man who liked fishing. He often came down late in the evening to watch but never took up the sport
himself. A fish passed in from time-to-time maintained good relations between us.
……….It was a Friday afternoon and the omens for peal fishing that night were good. Warm and cloudy weather prevailed and I wasted no time in
getting all together after work and heading out for the moors and valley on the old bike. I used to park the bike by the generator, inside the gate so
it was safe, not that there was any need to worry in those days.
I spent the early evening with the family who knew I would be on the river that night and Les made sure the battery was charged and the thermos
However, the weather was disappointing, the cloud clearing and the air turned chilly. The pool-my favourite, where I caught my first sea trout, looked
good and there were definitely fish in it.
As darkness fell I began to fish but nothing whatsoever was moving..not even a small trout. The air was cold-too cold, even for that time of year and
I really felt that somehow, things were not ‘right’, but cannot really explain how. There were no owls hooting, no bats about..not even any midges
bothering to bite. The water looked black and oily and I was getting a bit concerned by the cattle in the field opposite. Normally, they would wander
around peacefully, mostly quiet but tonight it was as if –well, it’s a bit difficult to describe. Stampeding around continually and bellowing
their heads off. The bank opposite is quite steep; you can’t access the pool from there because of the rock face. On the skyline opposite there
are-were-several trees which shaded the pool and I noticed several head of cattle lined up there trying to get down the bank-as if they were trying to
get away from something. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but that is how it appeared then. Then, one either lost it’s footing, slipped , fell or
jumped, scrabbling down the bank and falling in with a tremendous splash… time to go! A rapid reel-in, quick check that nothing was left behind, but
found that the torch had failed; never mind, I knew every step of the way back and had just started off when several more of the cattle came tumbling
down the bank, crashing into the water in panic. I just didn’t want to be there anymore and headed back downriver to the bridge at a quickening
pace. O.K. it may sound a bit ’windy’ but I felt a sense of relief to be back on the road away from that place. As quietly as possible (not easy)
I trod the steps from the gate to the stable door, pushed it open and climbed up into the loft and switched on the light. The flood of stinging yellow
light and stable air brought a sense of reality and comfort and, after a welcome coffee, decided to have a kip and try the old Rock Pool downstream at
first light-often a very productive time.