An exciting account of one of the more obscure of Shropshire ghosts: a spectral horse which had the habit of charging up a country lane after dark.
This exciting incident took place in the 19th century near Llanymynech right on the border with Wales. I’ve been unable to pinpoint the precise location on the map but it was a lane or minor road leading up from a ford across the River Vyrnwy. The road was enclosed by woodland, making it a gloomy spot.
A ghostly white horse with ‘great blood clots’ on its shoulders was known to charge up this lane at a furious pace after dark. Those who had seen it said it was bridled and saddled but no one was visible riding it. On this particular Wednesday evening, a young woman was returning rather late from Oswestry Market. According to the tale repeated in the long since defunct journal ‘Bye-Gones’:
‘She was most anxious to cross over the ford on her return before dark, being made timid by the stories she had heard, but night had set in before she came to it. Loaded as she was, she dreaded the crossing, and it was with difficulty she got her steed to enter the water, but when she had crossed, the spirited animal, smelling his stable, set off at a sharp canter. While she was incommoded by her load and the pulling of the horse, she distinctly heard behind her the terrifying sound of a furious galloping, and her steed, appearing to hear it also, set off furiously in the pitch darkness. and to her horror, glancing behind, she saw coming on at her flank the outstretched head and neck of the white horse.
‘She was near the end of the wood, and as she emerged the sound of the spectre ceased, but her own animal raced on, only stopping at the gate of the farm, and backing to permit her to fling it open, and then raced for home, where he stood in the farm yard trembling with fear. The family had gone to bed, and only a man was up to attend to the horse, but in the morning she had a sound rating for riding so hard.’
The story behind the bloodstained riderless horse had been lost in the mists of time even as long ago as Victorian days. No doubt it recalls some bloody murder or battle that took place near the ford hundreds of years before.