The Screaming Woods – Random Adventures

I haven’t written in a while. I could put it down to having just had two exams and a long period of begrudging revision but the fact is that I spent just as much time goofing off online in my revision as I did in my regular studies so there’s nought but laziness to attribute to the gap between then and now.

This is particularly inexcusable because I’ve had a fair few fun little adventures between then and now. Particularly impressive in its scope and origin is the fated journey to the Screaming Woods – the most haunted place in all of England.

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Sometime in late May my good friend Andy contacted me and suggested we get some lunch. We consider all the options avaliable to us and, after a period of wandering around and finding none of the University food-joints open we opted to contact our good friend Robbie and embark on a short journey to Whitstable, a nearby costal town, to have some fish and chips by the beach. This was the beginnings of a quest for lunch that would end with us driving home in the dark at three in the morning singing cheesy pop songs.

For you see en-route to our little seaside town we passed a mediocre carvery. We begin discussing the idea of having a carvery and suddenly Andy and Robbie are overcome with a desire to eat a roast dinner. We drive around Whitstable for over half an hour looking for some phantom carvery Robbie was sure he’d seen to no avail. We then get lost for ten minutes and end up on a large road heading back into Canterbury. Back at the University of Kent, still hungry and now verging on Six O’Clock – the time at which eating transmutes from lunch to dinner – we call on our friend Jamie to join us in driving down to a local carvery.

At the carvery we encounter a very strange man serving as the meat-carver. Presented with three meats – Gammon, Steak and what appears to be Chicken or perhaps Turkey – me and Andy both request the Turkey. “It’s Chicken!” he grunts. We ask for Chicken. “Turkey!” he gruffly mutters, handing us the suspicious meat. I still don’t know what it was that I ate but I wouldn’t be suprised to find its carver has a restraining order or something. In any case we finish our meals and enjoy each others company. Surely this is the end of our quest for dinner?

But for some reason Jamie drives us home a different route – taking us round the back of the University through some fields. We all suddenly have the brilliant idea of going on an adventure and finding something cool. We drive for quarter of an hour down the road and end in some peculiar car park in the middle of a woods. There I battle with my phone’s 3G in a bid to find the location of the legendary Dering Woods – reported by Robbie to be in the town of Pluckley and one of the most haunted grounds in all of Great Britain. Whilst in that cark park we see a curious white van left open and seemingly abandoned in a manner not unlike a horror film about abduction. Perhaps it was the van of our disturbingly disturbed carvery-chef.

Having found Pluckley on the map we drive through winding country lanes for hours as the clock ticks onto eight and then nine but the sun refuses to set. We find the town of Pluckley and discover it has a bizarre smell. We look around for a few minutes and finally find the fated Dering “Screaming” Woods. The most haunted woods in all of England. Andy and Robbie are wearing flip-flops. What could possibly go wrong.

We walked around that wood, impossibly lost, for many hours. But time passed strangely in those eldritch  forests. For it was only on our panicked return to the car (panicked because we were lost, not panicked because we were being chased by the unliving damned) that the sky finally darkened to what could be considered ‘night’. We were in a literal Twilight Zone – where the passage of time seemed unconcerned with the passing of the sun overhead. Me and Jamie, shod in appropriate footwear, made a detour through a thorny bramble. When Andy and Robbie followed they did so only after we had given up our socks to better protect their feet. Andy spent the rest of the journey complaining about my smelly socks. It wasn’t particularly the kind of dialogue found in a horror film. Nevertheless Robbie was adamant he saw a face in a small cabin adjacent a railway line. Tramp or ghost? Who knows.

The biggest scare of the night – other than the vague anxieties about getting lost or running out of petrol on the way home – came in the form of a pothole. Whilst that makes it sound like the journey was not particularly scary I must express in the clearest terms just how terrifying a pothole it was. It was so large I thought we had driven partially off a cliff-edge or something. The car screamed and the road roared when we passed through it. Andy screamed. It may have been Andy…it could have been Robbie.

What had started out as an earnest search for lunch transformed into a full English roast and a ghost-hunt miles away from home. If that’s not an adventure then I don’t know what is.

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