I thought to give everyone a break (not least myself), I would put a ’sneak preview’ of a ghost case I am including in the reprint of “Dark Journey” in about a year. (I still have to keep to my schedule of completing the other three books first).
In fact, the ‘beginning’ of this this weird case I have published before under the heading “The Dowdsman”. But only yesterday, I found some damp notes in my back room (no, no knickers this time!) written in 1979 or so, which dealt with the end part of that investigation.
The article is quite long so I will have to do this in two parts (well, I don’t have to but I haven’t finished typing the end section up yet!). So, as a ‘break’, here is part 1. Part 2 will have to be tomorrow or soon thereafter or I might be accused of neglecting my ‘Girl with no name’! . . .
Perhaps one of the most memorable cases of psychic phenomena investigated by the British Psychic and Occult Society (BPOS), involved a ‘bear-like’ apparition said to haunt rural country roads in Dorset by night. This nocturnal apparition has long been the subject of many strange tales and happenings, and is said to take the form of a large black shape that is seen by lonely travellers and motorists. Descriptions of the apparition vary according to the accounts of witnesses, but basically it is described as a dense black shape appearing to ‘walk’ upright on two legs, resembling a bear or gorilla. According to witnesses who have been unfortunate enough to have encountered it on foot, the apparition emanates an aura of intense evil and a deathly silence descends upon the area of its appearances, as if all nocturnal life is aware of its presence.
Of course, like many other cases of unexplained phenomena that might filter back to the BPOS, such reports are at first treated with a certain amount of scepticism; at least, until an investigation has been mounted and the possibility of any logical explanation been discounted. The Dorset case was to be no exception to this rule. In fact, I first heard about this case in the early 1970’s from a man who lived quite close to me in North London who claimed to have had a vivid and terrifying experience with this apparition in 1969.
His name was James (Jim) Kennedy, and when I went to visit him at his Highgate home, he told me that in June 1969, he had definitely encountered some ‘bear-like’ creature that had ‘stalked’ him along a Dorset lane late one night. I was impressed by Kennedy’s account. He came across as a sincere and logical person and not one who seemed prone to fantasy of exaggeration. My contemporary notes that I made about the case at the time are as follows:
Last year Jim Kennedy and some friends had a frightening experience whilst returning from spending a weekend camping in Lulworth Cove in Dorset. He was with four other people and his wife and small daughter, and they were heading towards Salisbury en route for London, but they became hopelessly lost. To make matters worse, the camper van broke down on an unlit B road and they found themselves in the middle of nowhere with no sign of human habitation. After a while, Jim decided to try and find help and with two of the others they set off into the night They walked about a mile or so when, they came to a long tree-lined gravel driveway and in the distance, loomed a large old house. It was approaching midnight, but one or two of the windows were still lit which suggested the residents were still up.
Not wishing to alarm the residents so late, Jim decided to wait at the bottom of the drive while the others went to ask permission to use the telephone. While he was waiting, Jim lit a cigarette when suddenly, something in the distance caught his eye, and he noticed a distinct dark figure coming down the drive towards him. It was a bright full moon, and the surrounding area was bathed in moonlight, but the dense trees prevented any clear identification of the advancing black shape. But he could see that the figure kept crossing the path, then emerging again from behind the trees, each time getting closer towards him.
At first he just watching the emerging figure with interest thinking it to be some large dog or other animal, but when it got nearer and he could see it more clearly, it took the shape of a large bear-like creature and he noticed it was making no sound on the loose gravel. By now, more than a little perturbed that the figure may in some way be supernatural, Jim turned back towards the van, taking cautious glances over his shoulder to check the distance of his ’advancing adversary’.
He walked as fast as he could but didn’t run sensing that it might be dangerous to show fear; although he felt like doing so as the ‘thing’ was getting uncomfortably close. All the time, he was aware of an overwhelming sense of evil that the ‘creature’ appeared to emanate, and he felt as if he was being drawn back by some malevolent force. On reaching the van, he took one final glance over his shoulder and noticed to his horror that the thing was less than twenty feet behind.
Once inside the van, he told the others what had happened and, seeing he was in a state of genuine shock, they went outside to investigate. If they had any doubts, these were soon dispelled when the ’thing’ suddenly reappeared and went ’straight through’ a thick privet hedge into an adjourning field. It then re-emerged farther down the road and seemed to be circling the parked van.
It was not spotted again, although a deathly silence had descended on the area broken only by two horses in a nearby field which were galloping around wildly in the moonlight and crying out in a petrified manner.
Eventually help arrived and the AA service man remarked that there had been wide reports of this phenomenon over the years. It was often spotted by motorists only to disappear in the glare of the headlamps. It was known locally as the “Dowdsman” and one of its favourite haunts was the “Old Roman Crossing”.
After hearing this intriguing account, I decided to mark the ’Dowdsman sighting’ down for a full investigation by the BPOS, although this had to be put ’on hold’ due to other investigations then pending and a series of other events that prevented the somewhat long trip from London. But I made several interim enquiries in the meantime, and several references and replies to letters seemed to suggest that there was some definite mystery to be investigated in the area.
PART 2 SOON . . .