On a visit to Skegness some time ago, I met up with an old friend of mine who I hadn`t seen for quite a while. We got reminiscing about the past and during the course of our conversation we spoke of the strange incident of which I am about to tell.
Some twenty odd years ago I lived in a shoddy one-roomed bed sit on Skegness sea front. By contrast my Friend Chris lived on the very edge of the Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, a beauty spot a few miles from the town.
Then as now I enjoyed going on long solitary walks in the countryside. But in those days it was one of the few ways of escaping the claustrophobia of my tiny bed sit, and the hoards of noisy holiday makers that crowded the streets and pubs of Skegness during the busy summer months.
One evening on one of my solitary outings, I found myself near the golf course to the south of the town, beyond it lay a long narrow unlit road leading to the Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve. It was starting to get dark and a thick mist was rolling in from the sea but without thinking of time or distance I decided to press on for the reserve. As I have already mentioned Chris lived on the very edge of the nature reserve and since I was heading that way I decided to call him from a nearby phone box to ask him if he would care to join me on my pointless meander. As luck would have it Chris was at home, he had nothing better to do so it was arranged that he would set off and meet up with me on the road roughly half way to the reserve.
I continued at a brisk pace, and soon the last of the street lights receded into the distance behind me, while ahead lay a dark narrow unlit road made less inviting by an ever worsening fog. After walking some distance, the fog became so bad that my visibility had decreased to only a few feet and I could not distinguish the road from the verge. Concerned by the obvious dangers posed by traffic, I started to regret undertaking such a pointless and increasingly hazardous journey, and I would have certainly turned back were it not for the knowledge that by now Chris was somewhere on the road up ahead. I stopped for a while to get my bearings, and it was then that I heard the unmistakable sound of heavy hoof-beats fast approaching. Who on earth was out riding a horse in this weather? I thought and as the galloping got nearer I felt the first intimations of fear.
I was on the narrowest section of the road, and I was sure the horse and its reckless rider would be unable to see me in the dense fog. So in my panic I stumbled blindly on to the verge, aware that each faltering step I took could send me tumbling into a barbed wire fence or worse, a deep water filled ditch. I stood motionless as the hoof-beats thundered passed, the sound was so close that despite the fog I could see where the horse should have been but there was nothing! As the galloping receded into the distance I resumed my journey feeling both puzzled and unnerved by the experience.
I pressed on till I almost collided with a figure in the fog walking in the opposite direction. It was Chris he was equally shaken, as he had just had exactly the same experience further up the road. But our conversation was interrupted when the ethereal sound of hoof beats returned. But this time the drumming of hoof-beats now seemed to be circling us at an impossible speed, getting louder and louder one moment and then fading into the distance the next. Not wishing to hang around a moment longer, we headed back to Chris` house as fast as the going would allow us.
Later we puzzled over the incident. We were in no doubt that we had both heard a horse in full gallop out there on the road, yet there was nothing to account for it. At length however, we decided that the fog had played tricks on our judgement of distance, and in time the incident was all but forgotten.
That is until some twelve years later when I was now living in Lincoln and working as a city tour guide. One afternoon I was swotting up on local history in the reference section of the public library, when by chance I came across a cutting from an unspecified publication, that provided one possible tantalising clue to the mystery. You can imagine my surprise when I read the following:
" A legend dating from the 1700`s has it that a farmer, on his way home from Gibraltar Point to Skegness market, tried to take his horse on a short cut along the beach, but lost his way in the fog and was drowned at high tide. Since then it is said that the frenzied sounds of ghostly hoof-beats have been heard at Gibraltar Point on foggy nights."