Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Splashing Hooves

The following guest article is by Rupert Matthews, author of the book Haunted Hampshire.

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The Splashing Hooves
By Rupert Matthews

Of all the haunted sites in Buckinghamshire, few are as atmospheric as the Ford at Fulmer.
 
The narrow lanes around the village of Fulmer are lined by high hedges which are awash with wildflowers in the spring and summer. Birds rustle through the undergrowth and hatchlings call for their mothers. Come autumn and berries line the lanes where brambles twist between the hedges and fences, while old man’s beard sits gently on the branches. Even in winter these lanes are delightful places. The hedges shelter the walker from the chill winds while frost decorates the landscape with its sparkling white magic.
 
But the atmosphere quickly changes when you approach the ford. The trees crowd in upon the road, reaching to meet overhead in a dark embrace that blots out the sunlight. The road dips suddenly downward and at once the air is chill and dank. Silence replaces bird song and even the air seems still and silent in this shaded spot. There certainly does seem to be something odd about this place.

At night the atmosphere is even more marked. The overhanging trees cut off what light might come from the moon or stars and the ford is plunged into an almost solid blackness. It is at such times that the distant clump, clumpity, clump of approaching horses can be heard. As the horses draw nearer, the crunching rumble of carriage wheels becomes distinct.

Odd this, as the road is now metalled over with tarmac, but the hooves and wheels seem to be crunching through gravel. Then, suddenly, horse and carriage plunges into the ford. Water is splashed by the hooves and wheels as the vehicle drives through the waters of the Alder Bourne, then emerge again and push on up towards Gerrards Cross.
 
Odder still is the fact that although the sounds are quite distinct, nothing is to be seen. The horse and carriage which careers through the ford are quite invisible. It is, Ghosthunter has been told by one who has heard it, a most unnerving experience.
 
Fortunately it is not all ghostly gloom around Fulmer. The Black Horse, which stands beside the church in the village centre, offers welcome hospitality after an encounter with the chilling atmosphere of the ford. Visitors are welcome to park their cars in the ample car park beside the pub while the walk down to the ford, so long as they seek refreshment in the Black Horse afterwards. Ghosthunter can recommend the roast lamb shank, but a tempting array of other dishes are also on offer.
 
And you can learn the strange tale of local character Slippery Dickory while you are there.

The Ford lies just to the east of the village of Fulmer where Hawkswood Lane crosses the Alder Bourne stream. You can park your car beside The Ford if you wish, but the lane is narrow and you will be missing out on a very pleasant walk. Far better to park your car in Fulmer village and walk down the narrow Alderbourne Lane which leaves the village beside the parish church. After half a mile you come to a T-junction. Turn left down the hill into Hawkswood Lane. The Ford is just a hundred yards or so away from the junction. 
 
  
Rupert Matthews is the author of the book Haunted Hampshire which is published by the History Press (ISBN 978-0752448626) and available on Amazon and from all good bookshops. You can find Rupert’s website at www.rupertmatthews.com. He also maintains a blog about the unexplained at www.ghosthunteratlarge.blogspot.com.

If you would like to contribute a guest article for the website please contact Richard Thomas at richard@richardthomas.eu.

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