As teenagers, we had a great time growing up in the Derbyshire, Peak District. One of our favorite things to do was scare ourselves silly by walking down “Shady Lane” or Longstone Lane, which runs between Gt Longstone and Ashford in the Water.
Shady Lane / AKA Longstone Lane Ghost
My mate Toby’s parents used to have French school kids over every year on an exchange. One of the rituals of these exchanges were nighttime walks up Shady Lane.
On the lane is situated the entrance to Thornbridge Hall. This is where the ghostly coffin bearers of the Lady of the manor are said to walk.
Ghostly Coffin bearers
The legend goes that if you see the coffin bearers, then it is an omen of your imminent death.
Well, we must have walked up “Shady Lane” 20 times in the space of about 4 years and usually the collective fear worked on us so much that it would only take one person to get scared and we would all run screaming down the lane and back home. Usually it was Bob, Toby’s dad who was hiding in the fields trying to scare us.
Ghostly Lanterns at Thornbridge hall
However on one occasion, I think it was myself, Toby and Lee Skidmore (maybe Matt Swift) decided that we were going to go up Shady Lane and see if there really was a ghost or not. Previously, we had just gotten so spooked we never actually got as far as the Hall without taking flight. The lane is pitch black and heavily wooded in parts. Believe me when I say “it is creepy, even in the day”.
We had been drinking in Longstone, and were walking back drunk. It had seemed a good idea to go by ‘Shady Lane’ as the alcohol fueled bravado egged us on.
All I can say is that it was a mistake. As we headed towards the gates of Thornbridge Hall we were getting nervous…then as we peered through the darkness we saw it. Swinging lanterns, slowly approaching us. Now this was probably about 1988, who would be using oil lamps? whoever it was, we didn’t wait to find out. We legged it all the way home. We never went to the hall to find out who it might have been. Maybe there is a perfectly logical explanation. We will never know.