Return to the Coombes Valley

I have written about the Coombes valley previously, however I visited it once more on the 7th May 2008 while investigating a mysterious alignment that I had found, which seems to start on Toot hill in the Macclesfield forest and then proceeds to run through the highest hill in Cheshire known as Shutlingslow, it carries on in a straight line, passing through Ludchurch cave, Roche Grange, the centre of Bradnop and then seems to stop at a place called Rough Stone Hole on the outskirts of Bradnop and Spirithole woods which the Coombes brook runs through.

I found this strange foam ring floating in the Coombes brook close to where the alignment ended.

The reason that I travelled to this valley was to see if there was any significance for the alignment to come to an end at this place called Rough Stone Hole.

I had been trying to investigate this location since 2007, but because you have to cross the Coombes brook which is quite deep, and also you have to pass over marshy ground, I have had to wait for the weather to improve.

This photograph is looking down into the Coombes valley on the outskirts of Spirithole woods, with the Coombes brook in the distance. Rough Stone Hole is the other side of the brook in the trees

I have to point out that this area is a bit strange at the best of times as there has been reports of a phantom black dog with glowing red eyes seen in this area, and close by is the mysterious Egg well which I have written about and also the Indefont well, these black dogs seem to be drawn to these wells for some reason.

I started following the public footpath which would take me down into the Coombes valley and closer to Rough Stone Hole, the footpath took me through the centre of Abesford farm, however I was forced to make a detour as there were large boars wandering around, after crossing some fences I made my way down into the Coombes valley and proceeded to pick my way through the marshy ground. As I approached the Coombes brook I spotted someone walking along its banks, to cut a long story short the woman was probably in her sixties, a no nonsense type who actually owned the farm and land that I was on.

I asked her about Rough Stone Hole and she told me where it was, I told her about the alignment and although very interested by what I told her, she assured me there was nothing worth seeing there. After talking with her a while she opened up a bit more and started telling me about the area, she related the following tale. Some of her fields adjoin Spirithole woods and she told me that some of her sheep had strayed into the woods, and that her Father had had trouble trying to round them up, according to her 12 months had passed and her Father although reluctant, as he did not like the area, agreed to go down there once more and attempt to bring them out of there. She claims that when he went down there the sheep attacked him, they came charging out of Spirithole woods and started to bite him! If you had met this woman she comes across as the type of woman not given to flights of fancy, and seems very down to earth, I had no reason to doubt that what she said was not true.

Spirithole woods is the site of an R.S.P.B reserve and the woman went on to tell me that she had applied for a job taking visitors around, however she decided against taking the job as they would only consider her if she had done voluntary work for them. She did learn however from the other staff there that the R.S.P.B had spent thousands of pounds refurbishing a house in the woods for their staff, unfortunately no one would stay in the house because they believed it was haunted along with the surrounding area!

The refurbished house in Spirithole woods where no one is willing stay over in

The woman then went on to tell me that she had seen white foxes in this area, these she said were larger than a normal fox and they had shaggier coats. She put forward the theory that maybe a travelling fair or circus had passed through this area in the past and maybe a wolf had bred with the local fox population? She also went on to say that she had seen pure white Magpies close to Spirithole woods, and she had accidently trapped and released a sandy coloured Badger, a pure white one and believe it or not a pink coloured one!

She said the ministry had caught quite a few because they were carrying the T.B virus and one of the ones they had caught was a white one.

Another place that she told me about was a hole that the Coombes brook runs through which is known as the Spirit hole and is said to be located somewhere in the woods, this is a very deep and still pool, and she claims a wagon and horse went into this pool along with the driver and were never recovered, she also told me that in the past a local card game ended when someone was caught cheating, he was thrown into the Spirit hole and never found.

I have ventured into the woods in the past during the Autumn when the nesting season had ended, and I was able to find the Horsley Stone which I have written about and photographed, and which is said to be haunted by the spirit of a man who was murdered and his body placed under a stone. This time when I ventured into Spirithole woods it was to search for the Spirit Hole which the old woman had told me about. As she had told me that the Coombes brook ran through it I decided to follow the brook itself hoping that it would eventually lead me to it.

I followed the Coombes brook searching for the elusive Spirit hole but was unable to find it

I set off following the brook upstream as it was quite shallow, but after about half a mile I came to a landslide which made the going quite difficult, and to be honest it did not look as if the terrain and the depth of the brook was conducive to finding a bottomless pit!

When I returned to the point where I had started the search I came across a man who had worked for the R.S.P.B in the Coombes valley, he went on to tell me where the Spirit Hole was located, and as the time was getting on a bit I decided to return the following day and follow the directions he had given me.

I returned the following day on the 8th May 2008 to continue my search for the Spirit Hole, and using the directions given to me by the man on the previous day, he told me to follow the road past Coombes wood and after about a mile I would see a farm on my left hand side with a public footpath sign pointing across the fields. I followed his directions and found the public footpath which I followed and which took me across two fields, and after a couple of miles I dropped down into the Coombes valley once more and linked up with the Coombes brook which I proceeded to follow downstream, after a while I came across an unusual meadow which was surrounded By the Spirithole woods, and in the centre of this meadow and not marked on any maps was what I assumed was the Spirit hole.

The unusual meadow surrounded by Spirithole woods

I had been told the Coombes brook ran through the Spirit hole, this in fact is untrue as the brook can be found about 100 yards away, and the pool or hole appears to be man made as it seems to be banked up on the one side, and at the far end unusual stone work can be found which adds to the mystery of the place as it seems to resemble castle fortifications.

Strange stone work can be found at the end of the pool

As the Spirit hole is difficult to find I have not included any detailed directions, and as I have stated I have not been able to locate it on a map, so I don’t advise anyone to go looking for it, I hope that the photographs I have provided will satisfy people’s curiosity.

This is what I believe to be an old charcoal burner I came across in Spirithole woods

4 Responses to “Return to the Coombes Valley”

  1. Thanks to the wonders of Google Earth, you can locate what I think is the Spirit Hole. But it doesn’t appear on my OS map of the area. I’ve become interested in this area recently, so may be going for a wander here soon. Many thanks for this wonderful website!

    • Hi Martin, Thanks for the comments, let me know if you have trouble finding it and I’ll get back to you with some directions. Regards Gary

  2. Hi Gary I’ve found your website very interesting to read but relating to the Coombes Valley RSPB site the house in question refurbished in the wood it was being refurbished in the 1990’s I use to work there for a company called WEC who if they still exist were based in Hanley Stoke-on-Trent at the Sacred hearts church the work in question at Coombes valley was mostly tree planting but we also helped to move building supplies down the valley to the house in question as the manager at the time wouldn’t allow vehicle access except a tractor and trailer for stuff like cement or anything heavy. I do know that the house was used for some months I left shortly after the house was finished to work with Staffordshire County Council Employment Services at Biddulph Grange Country park as a driver getting back to Coombes Valley it never had that eerie feeling it was always quite a pleasant spot to work even if you were on your own which wasn’t very often. regard martin

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