Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Ghost Walk around Lyme Regis, Dorset. Part 1

Distance:            4 miles
Ghostly Rating        *****
Route:                Lyme Regis - Up Lyme - Lyme Regis
Map:                OS Explorer 116
Start/ Parking:        The Cobb car park
Public Transport        Lyme Regis is served by an hourly bus service from Bridport and less frequent services to other towns.
Conditions:            A fairly long walk which has one or two steep hills included. This route takes in the town centre of Lyme Regis, including the famous Cobb harbour and waterfront, as well as some quiet inland country areas.
Refreshments:        As a commercial town and favourite of visiting tourists, Lyme Regis has many pubs, cafes and snack bars.

The spectacular centrepiece of the walk is the Cobb, Lyme Regis’s famous harbour waterfront which has featured in movies and television dramas. Lyme itself is a charming little town with much to offer the visitor. It also has its fair share of ghosts, most of them linked to the tragic Monmouth Rebellion which took place over three centuries ago, but which still has dark memories in the West Country.

The Walk

1) Park in the Cobb car park, signposted from all routes into Lyme. From the car park walk on to the Cobb to view the harbour.

The supernatural came to the Cobb in truly spectacular fashion in the later 17th century. As evening drew in one moonless evening a ship of foreign appearance put in here. The sails were black and the men who worked the rigging neither spoke nor seemed to have any interest in their surroundings. They moved as if bereft of all hope. The ship tied up to the Cobb and the captain came ashore. He spoke to no one and looked neither to left nor to right. Dressed in black clothes of fine quality and fashionable cut the mysterious captain strode along the Cobb and into Lyme.

Marching up Silver Street, the foreigner came to the house of Mayor Jones. Mayor Jones was one of the richest men in Dorset, but not one of the most popular. He was a religious zealot of fervour who used his wealth and position to persecute those who disagreed with him. He scorned any who questioned his views, was contemptuous of Catholics, but had a special hatred for non-conformists.

The stranger eyed the house for a moment, then kicked the door in. The entire wall of the house collapsed into the street with a thundering crash. “I’ve come for you Jones” shouted the stranger as he walked amid the debris. As terrified witnesses stared, the man grabbed Jones by the shoulder and dragged him down to the Cobb. Jones seemed powerless to resist as the silent crew cast off and hoisted the sails. As silently and mysteriously as the ship had come, it glided out to sea.

Bizarrely, the body of Mayor Jones was found among the tumbled wreckage of his house, although dozens had seen him dragged on board the strange ship. It was widely believed that the Devil himself had come to Lyme in his dreaded Black Ship of Death to claim the soul of Old Jones.

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