I’ve never believed in ghosts.
My attitude is that “paranormal activity” is a result of uncommon atmospheric conditions and tricks of the light.
But when I found out that Preston was home to a haunted train tunnel, I had to go and have a look.
Miley Tunnel, running north from the Ship Inn into Deepdale, was opened in 1840 as part of a trainline running to Longridge. By 1930, buses were proving to be a more popular form of public transport, and the line closed to the public. It continued to be used as a freight line before finally closing in 1980.
Stories of a haunting are attributed to the death of a young girl who fell from a train carriage when passing through Deepdale station. Since then there have been sightings of a mysterious Grey Lady who is reputed to stalk the tunnel.
Such a brilliant narrative and area of local history demanded a visit. Entering the tunnel at the Deepdale end (show below on the map), myself and photographer David Stubbings had to squeeze through a gap in a fence to gain entry. Once in the mouth of the tunnel, the beautifully sinister Victorian brickwork cascaded overhead.
Armed with torches from the poundshop and a cast iron resolution to emerge at the other end, we set out into the darkness. Around a hundred paces in, it was dark. At a hundred and fifty, it was darker. And at two hundred, the darkness swallowed up all sense of scale, position and perception.
I’ve never known anything like it. Coupled with a ghoulish chill running through the tunnel, it made for a thoroughly spooky atmosphere. It didn’t help that every so often one of us would trip over a stray metallic item or stumble into a hole, provoking general scares and swearing.
But on we trudged, our torches providing meagre guidance. Halfway though the tunnel opened out, with wooden beams running overhead entering the old tunnel ventilation shaft. Then it was back into the dank and musty refines of the main tunnel, all the time accompanied by an ethereal breeze. When rounding the final corner, we were greeted by an otherworldly green light in the top corner of our vision. This turned out to be merely the light emanating from the southern end of the tunnel, but provided us with several moments of doubt and fear as we approached.
Exiting the confines of the tunnel we shielded our eyes from the sunshine, absent for the last half hour or so. We felt the euphoria of having emerged unspooked, yet also slightly disappointed.
Suddenly, I realised Dave had stopped walking.
He was snapping away at something in the distance. Showing me his camera footage, we saw an inexplicable blue light wandering across the tunnel. Studying the area, there was no way for the light to enter the tunnel, no cracks allowing even the smallest chinks of light. When we came back a second time to record the audio clip below, the light was nowhere to be seen!
Had we witnessed a supernatural phenomena? Or were our imaginations having some fun at our expense? The darkness of Miley provides the perfect black canvas for your mind’s eye to paint on.
I’d thoroughly recommend talking a stroll there yourself. Just be sure to go at a reasonable time with friends and let people know you’re going.
Who knows, maybe you’ll bump into the Grey Lady herself on her evening walks…
Main photo by Chris Bryant
Slideshow photos by David Stubbings