The Appleyards

Appleyards 4Situated between Linthwaite and Golcar, on the Golcar side of Huddersfield Narrow Canal, are the Golcar Appleyards.

Infamous in the local urban legends of my childhood, the Appleyards are a singularly dark and oppressive place.

There were tales of people being nailed to trees in years gone by and that kind of thing, urban legends and nothing more.

The area named “The Appleyards” is actually a lauded local beauty spot, offering a unique picnic site to visitors and residents alike. My own experiences of the Appleyards have been anything put picnic-esque.

That being said, my own experiences have been nocturnal at best and not focused on the picnic area itself. The notorious area that many think of when they hear “The Appleyards” is the wooded area between the picnic area and the canal.

Golcar Baptist ChapelAs a youth in Linthwaite, I would often visit friends in Golcar and the route through the Appleyards was often the quickest way there and back. Not for those wary of elevation, the pull from the canal up to Town End is a relatively steep one.

From the second lock down from Lowestwood Lane, I would cross the packhorse bridge and pull up past the Appleyards to venture further towards Golcar Baptist Church and then up to the main hub of Golcar. A long pull but that didn’t bother me in those days.

For some the way back is a lot harder still.

I would often return home around eleven at night, a sense of dread settling as I entered the narrow ginnel alongside Golcar Baptist Chapel. Hastily making progress alongside the graveyard, the dread would increase as I came closer to the Appleyards. Then came the final push; the last of the street lamps ahead I knew I would soon leave it’s soft orange sanctuary to pass under the viaduct and make the run past the Appleyards and down to the canal towpath and perceived safety.

Only once did I actually run. The pressure of total malevolence emanating from left as I approached the viaduct was such that I ran all the way to Lowestwood Lane. I was young then, less brave.

As an older youth, as my interest in self-improvement developed, I would use the route as a means of concurring fear. As a life long gnostic and paranormalist, I have even been back on occasion to “investigate” the area. Not in an Yvette Fielding kind of way, you understand, more in a John Constantine manner.

Under the viaductThere have been more notable experiences. Those with a sensitivity for these things claim to sense something of the Appleyards as far away as Milnsbridge and even go as far as to suggest that the sense of “other” doesn’t really leave you until you come off the canal at Slaithwaite.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal has a fantastic collection of sections for those interested in experiencing the paranormal, especially between Milnsbridge and Marsden.

I’ve posted about the Appleyards in the past (2003-ish) on the popular paranormal forum, Ghosts-UK.

I had a situation once regarding a place on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal called the Appleyards. It’s a picnic area on the other side of the canal from the towpath. It is where I encountered a spidey sense so strong that both myself and a friend collapsed to our knees at the same time.

Anyway, the place has consistently evoked that sense for myself and other friends whenever we have been through. I used to go there just to test the feeling, using it as a benchmark.

There was a time maybe 7 years ago. I had met up with an ex-girlfriend who was interested in the paranormal. She was a thelamite (I believe that’s the term for those who have studied and practice the teachings of Crawley). One night we set off from her flat, with a couple of other friends one sceptic and one other occulty type and walked the canal to the appleyards… it was about 1am by the time we got there (Student days eh? Never an early night )

The others were more interested in lighting their cigarettes and discussing the scenery but I led her down into the epicentre of the area… normally by now my spidey sense would be flaring and I’d want to run… but this time there was nothing. My friend looked at me with a smirk… I think she jokingly accused me of trying to get her on her own in a dark wood. I apologised as she turned to head out… as she got to the edge, I had been spinning trying to look into the trees to see anything… trying to push my sense to their maximum… as she disappeared over the edge of the path to rejoin the smokers I thought out loud

“Thanks a lot… I don’t ask for much do I… you’re probably scared”

And with that I turned my back and took a step… as that step fell it was like a lead curtain had been dropped behind me… my spidey sense flared up … not as much as it had done the time I had collapsed but it was strong and the things that seem to hang about that area were most definitely about.

I started to run up the path and was greeted by my friend, tears streaming down her face… she had felt it as it opened up.

So the embarrassment didn’t last long… even the sceptic had felt it but he still maintained his scepticism.

And again on Ghosts-UK.

One place on Huddersfield Narrow Canal, called the Appleyards, has been notorious in local stories. Urban Legends of people being nailed to trees for any number of reasons in centuries gone past. The place has such an energy at times it hurts… honestly (a friend and I were walking along the canal late one night and both doubled over… the feeling was that strong that our stomachs had knotted and legs had just gone to jelly… I’ve also seen things in the shadows and trees… the place is thronging with activity at times). I once took a group of people there, again just after the witching hour. I took them to show just how active it was… they were sceptical (of the place, all were aware of and interested in paranormal activity).

We got there and it was deader than a dead thing. Nothing, not a tingle on the old spidey sense. I took them off the canal and into the actual area (something i had never dare do at night before, the feeling was so strong normally). Still nothing. The others drift back to the canal and start talking about heading back… whilst I and one other do a circuit of the area… by now I am astounded and quite disappointed. I apologise to the lady with me and we head back… ladies first. As my lady friend stepped out of the boundary of the area it all came flooding in… like a thousand mocking and silent voices rolling in at once. Well.. it was nearly laundry time for me luckily the lady with me also felt it… the thing(s) had been holding off… purely because we had gone there deliberately.

The PoolMore recently I have passed through again and taken time to explore the area in the soft summer dusk – dusk is a time of transition, a good time to experience those experiences that might be experienced when you look to experience them.

There is still something in the atmosphere of the Appleyards. Nothing I would say I had brought myself but something desperately alone and craving attention.

“Don’t look at me!” whimpered whilst thinking “Never leave me!” would be a way of describing the gathered thoughts that the area emotes.

A friend of mine remarked that he feels unclean when passing through the area, like wading through an air of ordure with particles that never quite leave you once you have passed through.

Appleyards 1Oddly, while exploring the actual picnic area, I noticed a great many manhole covers, through which I could trace a number of waterways running through the area. This led me to a division of possibilities.

Firstly there is the scientific explanation-de-jour for paranormal experiences that is Infrasound – often said to be caused by running water (albeit hundreds of miles away).

Yet on the other hand, there is a thinking born of watching too many episodes of Supernatural: what if the waterways were deliberately crafted here, to hold something in? Certainly a theme I may call upon for a future work of fiction…

Discussing the area after a visit, I was prompted to put down the following verse to describe my feelings about the Appleyards.

Cold damp surroundings
Dusky feculent embrace
Departure denied

A presence claws out
Running water conduits hold
Innocence drawn in

Foetid miasma cloys
Eternally unclean henceforth
Freedom is sullied

The area is still there and still active; it is certainly worth a diversion if you’re walking in the area.

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The Blair Witch Project – (Contains Spoilers)

Blair Witch ProjectIt was hyped as the be all and end all of horror films; I remember my mind being set against The Blair Witch Project even before seeing it.  I’m all for innovation in film but the concept of the film, as was hyped, already had me on edge – even before the jerky camera work and ham acting.

I guess in a way, the film didn’t disappoint me; but only because it did, in actual fact, disappoint me so much. There are times I like to be proven correct in my assumptions and this is one instance where I could say with satisfaction:

I knew this film would suck!

The biggest problem I had with the film were the young paranormal investigators. Granted, they were never billed as professional paranormal investigators but still, even Micah did some research in Paranormal Activity (albeit poorly executed research).

Instead of choosing to research their target and equip themselves, these hapless buffoons set out on a camping trip with a camera and some tents. Then – surprise, surprise – when they pique the interest of whatever malevolent entity is out there (we never really find out what it is), they get pWn3d.

Worse than that, our intrepid autodarwinates actually exhibit zero common sense. I might choose to ridicule their lack of paranormal awareness and preparedness; and I can appreciate that some people may think:

Come on Armaitus, everyone knows that this ghosts and goblins malarkey is all stuff and nonsense.

But even the most die hard skeptic should be able to see that the films protagonists have a combined IQ of 12. In my head, Ray Mears cries himself to sleep because people like these exist. When lost in the woods (woods that you have studied for some time I might add) and you come across a river – you follow it out. You don’t run around, allowing some half baked forest witch cloud your inner sense of direction with corn dollies.

The one positive I took away from the film was the way the entity was portrayed. The entity acted exactly as I would expect a malevolent entity, that has just had a group of intellectually challenged come barging through their territory and poking around, to act. The use of mimicry to lure them out of their camp, the hidden body parts of their missing comrade and especially the way it turned them around on their forest walk (something I’ve actually experienced in the past).

Church of Pfizer – Science as the New Priesthood

As discussed earlier, the original discussion that led to the naming of “The Church of Pfizer” was one on that started with my perceived similarities between Science and Religion in the late 20th/early 21st century. The discussion was held in the summer of 2007 and so maybe a little outdated with regards my writing style.

The overall discussion burst, alien style, out of the chest of a discussion on the supernatural and people’s beliefs in the paranormal. The latter subject being one that I was loathe to comment on at the time; discussions on paranormal topics often start out friendly enough but usually devolve into either side shouting “Prove It”, “Don’t want to prove it” at each other whilst throwing rocks around and grunting.

I inadvertently began the flame war I was hoping to avoid by responding to a poster’s tongue-in-cheek comment on religion and backing up a comment someone else had already proposed:

‘Science’ is the new church and even less open or accountable than the old one. Scientists are the new priesthood. Neither should be accorded implicit respect or faith.

My repsonse:

I see little difference between religion and the basic understanding of paranormal lore – however I do ascribe to the propositions put forward by former Eton math tutor (by nom de plume) Ramsey Dukes, that society’s guiding forces can be divided into four cyclical aspects – Science, Religion, Art and Magic(k).

I also genuinely believe that we are moving out of a Religious/Science paradigm (Therefore scientists WERE the new priesthood – look at the way the New Inquisition (American Medical Association) disposed of Wilhelm Reich and his Orgone projects) into a Science/Magickal paradigm. (Some would argue thate we are moving out of an Art/Acience paradigm, I’d disagree) – viva Generation Hex!

Looking back, I cringe at my fanboy references to Uncle Ramsey and Saint Bob, like I can’t think for myself without falling back on the works of published authors.

Following this, a fellow poster responded on the side of the rational minded scientist:

Calling scientists “the new priesthood” is nonsense. Science actively pursues knowledge of reality and when new theories or facts emerge, the old theories are dropped or modified. In religion and superstition the seeking out of facts is actively discouraged. You are supposed to have faith i.e. you are to believe things whether there is proof of them or not and indeed even if there is a mountain of evidence against them.

Unlike the priesthood, scientists aren’t handed money by the public nor would people accept scientists dictating how they should behave in their private lives e.g. whether they should use contraception. The great majority of people disregard science and understand nothing about major issues like evolution, quantum theory and relativity, even though they are happy to enjoy the fruits of science. Most scientists are not well paid.

When a scientist makes a statement about some topic, if you disagree then you are perfectly at liberty to check his research or undertake your own and prove them wrong. In religion, if you do this you are a heretic or blasphemer. If society would allow them to do it I have no doubt that the religious establishment would love to persecute anyone who disagrees with them as they do still in many Muslim nations.

My response to this is both lengthy and studded with my feeble attempts to avoid slipping into a fundamentalism of my own; whilst other responses were shorter:

No but they do a very good job at been “holier then thou”.

Also the subject of funding and money. Most scientists will tend to come to the conclusions that match the views of their pay masters.

My own response follows, edited to remove names and to better fit into a wordpress format. I’ve tried to keep editing to a minimum, to keep the feel of the original rant.
Click here to see the whole thing