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The Ghost of Harecastle Tunnel

A close encounter with the Kidsgrove Boggart (sometimes known as Kit Crewbucket)

One fine day in 1990 a line of boats was waiting to enter the North end of Harecastle Tunnel. The last boat heading north came out of the tunnel, and the tunnel keeper said it was OK for us to go in. "NO, NO, NO" shouted the steerer of the emerging boat, "There's an old working boat following us, we can still see his headlamp" so we all waited but no more boats came out. The tunnel keeper looked, and couldn't see anything, so he phoned the south end keeper who confirmed that there were no other boats heading north, so we all started untying our ropes and got ready to enter the tunnel.

Suddenly the leading cruiser came backwards out of the tunnel again. "He was right" he said, "there really is a boat coming this way". We all waited, and again the tunnel keeper phoned through to the south end, but again no other boat appeared.

The leading cruiser went into the tunnel for a second time, only to come flying out again at full throttle backwards. The steerer was as white as a sheet, and trembling from head to toe. "Here it comes, it almost ran us down that time" he cried, and stopped to watch as we were all proved wrong. Except that we weren't proved wrong, and nothing came out of the tunnel.

"Let me have a look" said the tunnel keeper. "I'll come into the tunnel with you", and stepped onto the cruiser. Suddenly the steel barrier swung across, right through the cruiser's window. Six strong men were assembled, but their combined strength couldn't shift the barrier. "That's enough" said the cruiser owner "I'm not going into the tunnel".  Silently and smoothly, all by itself, the barrier swung back from the window and placed itself back against the wall.

The cruiser went back the way he had come, and we all set off into the tunnel. The ghost boat with its light had vanished without a trace. We all went through the tunnel, and saw nothing..

Perhaps you think I am making this up, but I swear that every word is true. I'll never forget the absolute certainty in the voice of the steerer heading north, and the terrified look on the face of the cruiser owner. Just why the Kidsgrove Boggart didn't want the cruiser in his tunnel will forever be a mystery, but I for one will never, ever again say that I don't believe in ghosts.


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