The Wraith of Trench Pool
Whilst cycling to work early one morning, a young man had a chilling face to face encounter with a ghostly apparition, but the terror would not end there. The entity would go on to stalk him for weeks afterwards, leaving him with a terrifying vision of The Wraith of Trench Pool.
The switch clicked back into position as the kettle came to the boil. Steam rose as its contents were poured into a waiting mug, the rich, flowing burble of water whispering through the air. The smell of coffee filled the room, seeping into every corner, almost as overpowering as the darkness smothering the further recesses of the kitchen. The bulb had blown the night before and Reece Matthews was preparing his drink by the light of the adjacent hallway, which wasn’t particularly bright. But that was the nature of energy saving bulbs; just luminous enough to get by.
Taking a sip from his mug, he regarded the scene in front of him. The world outside his window was cold, dark and wet. It was late October in 2015, and the reputation of the British Winter weather had preceded itself. A sideways drizzle was scoring the landscape of the cobbled roads and town houses inhabiting his street. Jesus! He thought to himself. I should get a taxi…
But a quick glance at the clock put paid to that idea. It was 4:30 am and the taxi firms were still charging double time. It was a thought that occurred to him every single morning, but the outcome was always the same; he just didn’t have the money to waste on cabs. The buses weren’t running at that time in the morning either, so his only option was and always had been to cycle to work.
The dark road ahead
Reece lived in the town of Telford in Shropshire, England. Famed as one of the birth places of industry and home to the world-renowned Ironbridge, Telford is a thriving municipality of around 170,000 people, one of the fastest growing towns in the UK. For this reason, the routes of transportation are excellent and cycle paths compliment most busy roads throughout the town itself.
This was at least some comfort to Reece, who had to brave the quieter traffic of the early morning every single day. Quieter traffic, of course, often led to more reckless driving by some, so the cycle paths were a welcome alternative to the roads themselves. Parts of his route, however, would take him off the beaten track, along dark paths, where no street lamps shone.
But that was the last thing on his mind as he finished his coffee, slipped on his waterproof coat and mounted his bike, ready for his daily five-mile journey to the manufacturing plant where he worked. The world was still submerged in darkness when he left, it was just coming up to 5 am and sunrise at that time of year wasn’t until after six.
Taking the gravel pathway
The going was easy. There weren’t too many hills and if there were, the inclines were gentle. The rain, on the other hand, was more troublesome. There was no avoiding it, it pierced the exposed skin of his face like a thousand icy shards. In some small way, it felt invigorating, in most others it was an incorrigible nuisance, but never did it pose any kind of threat in stopping him.
He cycled on through rows of dark houses and shops. Every now and then a vehicle of some description would come tearing past, taking advantage of the empty roads, but for the most part, the world was silent and peaceful. This close to the depths of Winter, most birds had already flown south, so not even they made a sound. Reece often used this time for reflection, his route was so routine by now that he could often navigate on auto pilot, leaving him free to think on things.
At the midpoint of his journey, he turned off the main highway and began to cycle down an old gravel path, which would take him past Trench Pool. Trench Pool is a large body of water, used mainly as a balancing lake, but is often fished by the locals. The pathway was confined on both sides, with the pool to its left and a thick brush to the right, the other side of which there was a busy dual carriageway.
There were no street lamps adorning this part of the route. It was a long straight path, running at least 250 metres in length and would have otherwise been hidden in darkness if not for Reece’s high powered bicycle lamp. It shone so brightly that he could see all the way to the end of the track in front of him. He began to pick up the pace as he noticed that the route ahead was clear.
With his head down, he switched into a lower gear and began to pump the pedals with all the power his leg muscles could muster. He was now travelling at speed, but something – he didn’t know what – made him look up from the path immediately in front of him.
No more than three metres away stood a figure. He was moving at such a velocity that he was sure he was going to collide with whoever it was and in that instant, time slowed to a crawl, as is often the case in such circumstances. Everything happened in slow motion and for this reason, Reece was able to take in every single detail.
The figure was that of a woman, dressed in formal office-wear and holding a handbag tightly at her shoulder with one hand. She stood with her legs together and on her feet, she wore high-heeled shoes. Of her features, he could see nothing; she was looking down at the floor and her drenched, black locks hung down over her face. As he closed in on her, she did not move. She did not cry out in panic. She did not even flinch. She did not react in any way, shape or form. She simply stood there, stock still and deathly silent.
At the last moment, Reece adjusted his handlebars just enough to go sailing past, missing her by mere inches, but still she stood there, unmoving. He immediately slammed on his brakes, skidding sideways in the wet gravel and almost falling off his bike. He turned back towards her to apologise, but… there was no one there.
Confused, he looked from left to right and back again, but the woman was nowhere to be seen. Once he realised the truth of the matter – that there was nowhere else she could possibly have gone – every single hair on his entire body stood on end. Stunned, he turned back around and continued cycling along the path, not once looking back for fear of what he might see. He was fully convinced that he had just seen a ghost.
He spent most of that day at work in near silence, only opening his mouth to speak when he needed to, walking in trance-like disbelief. Colleagues noticed this change in him, but he told them nothing of what he had seen. On the way home he took a different route and would, in fact, steer clear of cycling along Trench Pool for months afterwards. But as much as tried to avoid bumping in to whatever he had seen that morning, that choice, it would seem, would not be his.
About a week after his sighting, Reece was walking to his local shop to buy some beer. It was late evening, around 10 pm and the sun had long since set. He was on a path next to a main road, with houses on either side, but the streets were empty. A car would pass every now and then, but for the most part, he walked in silence underneath orange fluorescent street lamps.
What happened at Trench Pool the week before had played heavily on his mind in the time since, but he had resolved to put it down to tiredness and the possibility that his mind was playing tricks on him. He wasn’t even thinking about the incident at the time; his thoughts were on other things, such as video games or TV shows he had been watching. But out of nowhere came the sound of high-heeled shoes walking behind him, echoing off the faces of the houses lining the road.
He did not turn. In fact, he thought little of it until the footsteps started getting louder and closer. Whoever it was walking behind him, they were obviously going at a faster pace than he was and so he decided to stop and let them past as the path was only narrow. As he slowed, he turned his head to indicate his intention, but to his complete and utter shock, the pathway was empty and the sound of footsteps abruptly stopped.
The feeling of being followed
There would be many more instances like this whenever he was walking alone, either during the day or late at night and it would never fail to chill him to the bone. He also suffered from episodes of sleep paralysis during this time and whenever it occurred, he swore he could feel a presence somewhere in the room with him, watching. On other occasions, he would be standing, minding his own business when he would suddenly get the unshakeable feeling that someone was stood right at his shoulder, so close it felt as though they were trying to whisper something in his ear, but he never heard a peep.
This continued for some time and just as Reece felt as if he was beginning to lose his mind, the activity began to abate. Life would return to normal for him, but it would be months before he dared cycle anywhere near Trench Pool. Only when the sun began to rise earlier, as Winter gave way to Spring, did he feel brave enough to take the gravelled pathway running past the lake.
He would always wonder what it was that he had seen in that cold, dreary October of 2015 and he would go on to tell close friends of his experience. Through them, he would come to learn that he was not the only person to have experienced something strange in that area.
Deaths in Trench Pool
There were stories of fishermen who had seen figures stood on the gravel pathway, which wouldn’t have been anything out of the ordinary if not for the fact that these figures were often faceless and sometimes even hovering a few feet above the ground. The sound of ghostly footsteps had also been heard walking along the wooden jetties at either end of the pool. And in another chilling account, a man walking along the same gravel pathway had heard a low, guttural growl—like nothing he had ever heard before—coming from the brush running next to the walkway. It seems the lake is no stranger to paranormal activity and there are perhaps some valid reasons for this…
In mid-2017, one of Reece’s friends happened to overhear an interesting conversation about Trench Pool. It included comments from an amateur diving instructor, who one morning many years before, had received a phone call from an officer at Malinsgate Police Station in Telford Town Centre. Reece’s friend learned that there had been an altercation between a group of teenagers on the banks of the lake and one of them had fallen in and was suspected to have drowned.
The police had called for his assistance as their own diving team was training on the other side of the country at the time. Under a thickening air of apprehension, he and another amateur diver had had to suit up and swim out into the murky water, which went out to a depth of about 20ft. That morning they retrieved the body of an 18-year-old man from the lake and it would not be the first or last time that someone had lost their lives in those waters.
As mentioned previously, there is a busy dual-carriageway on the opposite side of the tall, dense hedge line, running alongside the gravel path. Several lives have been claimed in tragic car accidents, which have seen vehicles plough through the brush and end up in the lake. Other times, people have stumbled out of the nearby pub late at night, heavily inebriated and decided to go for a swim, and have drowned in the process.
Who was the wraith of Trench Pool?
There is no question that there have been several tragic deaths in and around the pool, but who was the young woman that Reece saw on that gravel pathway in the early hours of that morning? Could she have been the ghost of someone involved in some sort of accident? Or maybe the victim of something more sinister, something as yet unknown?
Reece is unsure, but amidst all the chilling experiences which occurred in the aftermath of his sighting, he sometimes got the feeling that the presence was trying to communicate with him in some way. Whoever or whatever it was, it had obviously noticed that he had noticed it and maybe that is ultimately the reason he was “followed”.
It has been nearly two years since his experience and Reece still cycles to work. He has resumed his route alongside the lake and although he has not seen anything since, the image of what he encountered is not so easy to forget. Indeed, there is never a time goes by where he doesn’t feel a moment’s hesitation before turning off down that gravel pathway. And although he may have laid his fears to rest, he feels the same cannot be said for whatever it is that haunts Trench Pool…