Been a hot day – but who really cares. At least, I don’t – much prefer it hotter rather than colder! But, I promised another short extract from my new book a few days back. So here it is.
It follows the Netley Abbey investigation and at least might keep K. happy at least! Not giving too much away. but here is what I have written about that, at least
You’ll have to get the whole 2nd Volume when its released if you want to read the whole thing, but in the meantime, here is another bit . . .
The Blackbird Cottage Mystery
In fact, the Netley trip was by no means the only one of our investigations, and Colette was involved in a great number of these. A year later, Colette and myself were also looking into a spate of ‘strange happenings’ that had been taking place in the mountainous region of North Wales. The ghost of another ‘tall black figure’ had also been sighted quite regularly, gliding along a scarcely used path that led to a disused cottage near Deiniolen in the Snowdonian valley. Snowdon towered in the background, a menacing-looking mountain whose peak was often obscured by cloud. Even on a clear day, it was said, you could rarely ever see the top of that mountain; only the clouds that chose to envelop its lofty shadows.
We were lucky as we knew a Welsh family who lived on the out-skirts of the village: they had a comfortable stone cottage with a large spare room.
We visited them one cold January day in 1985, but a large log fire warmed the building; the stone walls insulated the warmth somehow, and even held the heat. In the early hours, it was possible to touch them, and they were still warm, even though the main fire was just faint glowing embers.
It was warm inside, but one step outside into the cold January air, with the cold mountain winds, quickly reminded you of the true temperature outside. A walk to the local village shop (in fact the only one in the village) made you glad to return to the warmth of their cottage.
Stories abounded about a ‘phantom figure’ draped in black that had been seen disappearing into the ruins of an old cottage some way up the mountain slopes.
We visited this one early afternoon, and could see it had lain derelict for some 50 years or more. We decided to return that same evening with a medium to try and make some sort of ‘communication’ with this entity, and to this end, stacked up an old fire-place with any pieces of dry wood that we could find. A fire, we reasoned, would help for purposes of heat and light; especially as we planned to return that cold winter’s night.
In fact, nothing much remained of the cottage but its stone shell; and half the roof was missing. Further enquiries revealed that this had belonged to a slate miner, who had their residences in abundance in the area; although many of these had fallen into similar decline. It was a ‘ghost town’ of ruined cottages, but one where once people had actually lived, making their livings from quarrying the local slate. In fact, evidence of these slate quarries still existed (although by then disused) and you could still witness deep holes cut into the mountain slopes, although many of these had long-since filled up with water. Many of these looked like small lakes; although the water was particularly deceptive and concealed mining holes cut into the earth which were, in many cases, well over 500 deep.
But men once used to make their livings from these quarries, and the ruined remains of their cottages provided evidence of that.
The ruin, known as “Blackbird Cottage”, lay less than a quarter of a mile from our friend’s comfortable cottage. There had been several reports by locals of seeing a ‘ghostly black figure’ that glided into the ruin and then just seemingly disappeared in the gloom. Apparently, no-one had ever followed it in there – probably being off-put by the figure’s ability to glide silently across the ground before disappearing into the ruin.
One night around 11 pm, we set off to hold a séance in the isolated ruin. There was Colette and myself, our two friends and about five other people – all members of the BPOS who were based in North Wales. We had all met up beforehand and arranged cars for the transportation, all following one another closely so as not to get separated.
The ruin eventually came into view and we parked as near as possible, walking the remainder of the way guided only by torches across an old track way. It was bitterly cold, but still and noiseless, stars glittering undisturbed in the clear night sky. The silence was intense, in fact; Snowdon loomed before us full of in impenetrable shadows, and only the remaining lights of some houses were visible in the valley some way below. But it was cold; the air cutting through protective clothing to freeze the skin below. And all this only minutes after leaving the cars roughly parked in the darkness of the mountain slope.
We had to open a flimsy barred gate; itself part of some entrance in a roughly designed expanse of barbed wire; presumably put there to control sheep in the area.
Once inside the ruin, we lit candles, as well as the fire which had been prepared earlier in the day. The light from this soon illumed the ruin and made the use of candles and torches really unnecessary. It cast eerie shadows upon previously darkened walls, but at the same time emitted a pleasant warmth to compensate for that cold January night.
There was no other sound except the crackling of the firewood as we formed into a group to prepare for the vigil.
We gathered around the old stone fireplace, remaining silent, while a medium present ‘tuned in’, in the silence.
Eventually she said that she could feel the distinct presence of a man, who was trying to convey that a dreadful tragedy had occurred many years earlier. His name was Benedict, and he conveyed that there had once been a fire where the cottage now stood which had destroyed his entire family, and now he had to remain here as the ground was sacred and he had to protect the souls of his family.
The medium was not sure if the summoned presence was referring to the cottage itself or an earlier building that had once stood on the site, but just as she was about to continue, there was a low ‘sighing sound’ which she said indicated that the spirit had suddenly ‘gone’. Next, a ‘static atmosphere’ then seemed to permeate the building, and only moments later, a brilliant white light illuminated the cottage for 3 or 4 seconds, reflecting through the broken roof and caused by something passing directly overhead. There was no sound such as a plane or helicopter to otherwise betray the cause of this; just a dazzling white light which lit up the room and disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.
Following this, a low rumbling sound echoed down the chimney and seemed to shake the building, and brought with it a mass of flaming soot and stones which obliterated the fire and left the room engulfed in dense smoke. The candles had gone out, and even torches provided little light in the dense smog as everybody struggled to get out into the fresh air.
Once outside in the cold night air, another surprise was forthcoming when we were apprehended by two police officers and asked to explain what we were doing there. They were out on patrol and had seen the reflection of our fire from way below in the valley. They were satisfied with our explanation about trying to see the ghostly monk (indeed, they said they were familiar with tales of this haunting), but said we were nevertheless on private land. They didn’t say who owned the property, but took everybody’s names and addresses and warned us of the possible risk of a trespass charge if we returned again uninvited.
As one of them appeared to be quite friendly, I decided to ask them about reports about series of strange phenomena that had been reported in the area. These concerned strange unexplained lights that had been seen in the skies around Snowdon; and I had already heard local reports about these while making enquiries about Blackbird Cottage.
The policemen expressed no surprise about these reports; in fact, they confirmed they got them all the time, people actually going into the Police Station to report their experiences. They didn’t know what these were, but the ‘friendly one’ added that they had seen one themselves that very night as they were driving up to the cottage.
It was an unusual conclusion to an eventful investigation. Though one which, perhaps typically, left the events unsolved and the facts shrouded in mystery.
From: David Farrant: In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire (Vol 2)