Ghostly goings-on at the Shropshire Union

Fish it if you dare! That’s the warning to anglers visiting a venue which has this week been named as Britain’s most haunted waterway.

The Shropshire Union Canal has been given the spooky accolade after British Waterways revealed it has received more reports of ghost sightings from the venue than any of the other in its huge portfolio.

Among the numerous ghoulish ‘spirits’ which are said to regularly haunt anglers wetting a line at the canal – which runs for 67 miles from Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool, to Autherley junction, near Wolverhampton, are:

l A Roman centurion who guards the entrance to Chester city at Northgate, where part of the canal was dug into the moat 2,000 years ago.
l The ghost of an American pilot, who crashed his plane beside the canal in the Second World War. Numerous sightings at Little Onn, near Church Eaton in Staffordshire.
l ‘The Man Monkey’ shaggy creature said to be the ghost of a boatman drowned in the 19th Century. He has been seen on Bridge 39 at Norbury, used in the 2009 Div 1 National.

One man who claims to have witnessed the ‘Shroppy’s spectres’ first-hand is Brian Winton, a match angler from Chester. The 56-year-old, who regularly visits the canal to fish the pole for gudgeon, roach and chub, told Angling Times of his latest ‘encounter’.

“I’d been having a great day catching plenty of silvers, and was thinking about emptying my keepnet and starting to pack up when I heard heavy footsteps and a clinking sound coming along the towpath. I didn’t pay it much attention, thinking it was just another angler on his way home. The sound continued to get louder and louder, so I looked around, expecting to see someone almost upon me, but there was nobody there at all – not a soul for as far as I could see!

“At that point the air around me suddenly went freezing cold – despite it being a balmy July evening. I packed up in double time and left, vowing never to return on my own!”

BW has also received accounts of other ghostly goings-on on the canal at Tyrley middle lock near Market Drayton, which apparently has its own friendly ghost which closes lock gates behind boaters.

However, the Shropshire Union doesn’t have the monopoly on hauntings, with other BW venues also having their own spooky tales. These include the Trent and Mersey Canal, the Grand Union Canal, the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals.

Elsewhere, some of our most famous stillwaters have rich histories of ghost sightings, none more so than former record carp water, Redmire Pool in Herefordshire. Passion For Angling star Chris Yates claims that he has experienced many strange occurrences at the historic three-acre venue, especially when fishing in the ‘Evening Pitch’ swim.

“I’ve felt a very strong sense of presence with rapid changes of temperature. Apparently two people committed suicide at the pool. I’ve heard a shout next to me which echoed across the lake, even though I was the only person there, and I’ve seen figures. I don’t believe in ghosts, although a strong atmosphere can be generated by the right conditions. I think it depends on the person and their imagination, or whether they’ve been to the pub that night!” said Chris.