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Examining folkloric, paranormal & cryptozoological locations in the UK and beyond

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Ghosts & Folklore from Rivers & Waterways

Dead Lights

Location: Alkborough (Lincolnshire) - Humber
Type: Crisis Manifestation
Date / Time: Possibly early twentieth century?
Further Comments: Small blue lights would occasionally be seen darting around the waters here, with many believing that the glowing balls forecast the eminent drowning of local fishermen.

One of the UK's canal ghosts.

Anne Mort

Location: Astley (Lancashire) - Area near the canal
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Seen walking by the canal waters, this grey lady may be Anne who died of a broken heart.

Phantom horsemen cross a river.


Location: Attenborough (Nottinghamshire) - Riverside, and church area
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Readying themselves to cross the body of water, these troops still ride on their phantom steeds.

An old postcard of Ballater.

Spinning Jenny

Location: Ballater (Aberdeenshire) - Riverside
Type: Other
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Maybe related to the 'washer woman' legends popular in Scotland, this old lady sits on the bank of the stream, spinning her little wheel.

An old postcard of Barnard Castle in County Durham.

Lady Ann Day

Location: Barnard Castle (Durham) - Castle and River Tees
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A couple of versions of this ghost story exist. One has Lady Ann Day being tossed into the River Tees by her murderer, with her ghost of Day reliving her deathly plummet. The second version says Day died of natural causes, and her ghost would be seen at night wearing a red cloak as she crossed the river, possibly sitting on the shoulders of her husband.

Lady Isabel

Location: Barton Seagrave (Northamptonshire) - River Ise
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Floating high enough so that her feet remain dry, the shade of Lady Isabel passes quietly over the river.

Beautiful Face in the Lake

Location: Barton Turf (Norfolk) - Barton Broad
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Accidentally killed by her father (or so the story goes), the woman in question intended to run away with a knight. Her spirit haunts the water and is said to be a blessing to any who see her face.

Richard Slater

Location: Belaugh (Norfolk) - River
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Legend says entity appears nightly, but date of last sighting unknown
Further Comments: Slater worked at the rectory; he stole money, gems and other valuables from the church and buried them in the garden, waiting for a convenient time to recover the items to safely fence. Slater chose the time to do so badly, as he was caught by the rector as he dug the items up. In his haste to escape, Slater then drowned in the nearby river, weighed down by the stolen goods.

Waiting Woman

Location: Belaugh (Norfolk) - Riverside
Type: Legend
Date / Time: 24 August (reoccurring)
Further Comments: A woman in a white dress is said to wait for her Viking lover by the riverside.


Location: Beningbrough (Yorkshire) - River near the village
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Murdered in a house that no longer stands, this lost shade has migrated to the nearby river where she walks along the bank.

Green Shark

Location: Berwick on Tweed (Northumberland) - River Tweed
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 16 September 1757
Further Comments: A 1.8 metre long shark was discovered in this river, green in colour and no doubt a long way from home.


Location: Bestfield (County Carlow) - Canal
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: This canal was reputed to be haunted by a nineteenth century haulier who drowned at the lock.


Location: Blisworth (Northamptonshire) - Canal tunnel
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 2005
Further Comments: Even though the tunnel is 2,813 metres in length, when first constructed there was only one ventilation shaft. This poor design resulted in two people dying in 1861; one suffocated while the other fell unconscious into the canal and drowned. It is said as travellers pass over the site of this accident, they can hear coughing and the loud splash of someone hitting the water. One witness reported seeing the lights of long dead construction workers in the tunnel on the bicentenary of its opening, and then again about a year later.

Cursed Stone

Location: Boat of Garten (Highland) - River Spey
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Still present?
Further Comments: When the waters are low, an inscribed stone can be seen in the river - it is believed cursed, and anyone who meddles with it is doomed. Adding to the treachery of the waters, a white horse is said to patrol the river, looking for people to drown.

Elizabeth Butler

Location: Bramshot (Hampshire) - Stream running through village
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Elizabeth Butler drowned in the stream in 1745 and has been known to return to walk alongside the waterway.

William de Tracy

Location: Braunton Burrows (Devon) - Banks of river
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: De Tracy has been condemned to try to make ropes out of the sand - if he almost reaches his goal, a dog appears and burns the attempt. Another ghost, a phantom nicknamed 'Old White Hat', paces along the banks of the river, calling out for a ferryboat which never arrives.

Grey Horse

Location: Brecon (Powys) - River Honddu
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Nineteenth century?
Further Comments: Home of a Welsh water horse, this creature who tempt people to sit on it before terrifying the rider by dragging them over rough land and through the air.

Life Taker

Location: Bridgwater (Somerset) - River Parrett
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: This water spirit, thought to be the ghost of a suicide, is reported to take a life each year.

Bishop of Brundall on Barge

Location: Brundall (Norfolk) - River
Type: Legend
Date / Time: Varies: 24 June & 18 September (Reoccurring)
Further Comments: Sailing up the river, the Bishop's barge contains 28 rowers and is covered with fine cloth and silk. The Bishop is said to bless any ill people that he sails by.

Floating Figure

Location: Bryanston (Dorset) - River and woods in the area
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1986
Further Comments: It was reported that a figure was seen floating across the road before vanishing on the riverbank.

Peg O'Nell

Location: Bungerley (Lancashire) - River Ribble
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The ghost of Peg O'Nell is said to haunt the River Ribble, wanting an animal sacrificed to it once every seven years. It was in this village that a man once tried to cross the river before the sacrifice was made - and promptly drowned.

Getaway Boat

Location: Burgh St Peter (Norfolk) - River Waveney
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Once a year (reoccurring)
Further Comments: Captained by a thief, this boat is said to be rich in stolen gold. It appears once a year, though sources do not appear to know the exact date.

Goat Headed Monster

Location: Cambridge (Cambridgeshire) - River Cam close to Stourbridge Common (or not, as the case may be)
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1276
Further Comments: Lady Eveline Camilla (Newton) Gurdon claimed this monster encounter possibly happened in Suffolk, while the 'Every Day Book' placed it in Cambridge. They were both wrong - it comes from Poland; the story is from 'The Doome Warning All Men to the Judgemente' and reads: Fishers toke a disfigured divell, in a certain Stoure (which is a mighty gathering togither of waters from some narrow lake of the sea), a horrible monster with a goat's head, and eyes shyning lyke fyre, whereuppon they were all afrayde and ranne awaye; and that ghoste plunged himselfe under the ice, and running tippe and downe in the stoure made a terrible noyse and sound.

River Taff, Cardiff.


Location: Cardiff (South Glamorgan) - River Taff
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A water monster was once thought to live in this river. A whirlpool would be seen to form as the monster consumed drowned bodies.

River Taff, Cardiff.

Grieving Woman

Location: Cardiff (South Glamorgan) - River Taff close to Cloisters Hall, Llandaff
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1860s?
Further Comments: This female phantom is stricken with grief from the death of her son in the river. The ghost is said to sometimes drift up and down the banks of the river looking for her son's body. The river area is also home to Bella, another female ghost who is said to have committed suicide after her husband's method of running his tavern drove her slightly mad.

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