Friday, 30 March 2018
This week I discovered this place, ten minutes from my house.
It's a huge community woodland. The paths go on and on for miles of fabulous walking...
The thing is, this is post-industrial landscape. This entire site used to be a colliery and those hills were its slag-heaps. Like so many of the pits in this country it was, despite huge opposition, mothballed. I'm old enough to remember the year-long Miners' Strike in 1984-5, with the incredible deprivation it caused and the pitched battles between police and protesters. The strikers were eventually starved back to work, the coal industry was privatised and one by one the pits were closed - this one in 1994. It must have torn the heart out of the community.
I think the place is beautiful, but I imagine many local people have very different feelings.
There's a brilliant article here about the long (and currently resurgent) British tradition of ghost stories rooted in the specific eerieness of the countryside: so-called Folk Horror. And it persuasively ascribes this feeling of unease to landscapes of social conflict, class oppression, and capitalist exploitation.
If that's true, then this park must be haunted as fuck.
No wonder there's a sign at the gate telling you: