Situated between Maidstone and central Ashford is the village of Pluckley.
Although it may seem nestled in the Kent countryside, the area has a great reputation.
As well as being the original setting for The Darling Buds of May TV series, Pluckley is also considered the most haunted place in the country.
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I had never visited the area before, so when the time came, there was something I needed to do.
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The Pluckley Ghost Trail combines 11 points of interest and a leisurely stroll around the historic village – it’s a perfect thing to do with family or friends.
However, on its own, things can get pretty scary at times, as I discovered during my visit on Wednesday June 30th.
The trail starts on the main road just in front of the village primary school, at the Saint-Nicolas church.
A dancing light was reportedly seen in the upper part of the church window and is often accompanied by banging.
A group of psychic researchers spent the night in the church in the early 1970s in hopes of recording supernatural phenomena.
They were disappointed with what seemed like an uneventful night and told the vicar the next morning that his dog frequently visited them.
The thing is, the vicar didn’t have a dog!
As you turn into Station Road, the eerie nature of the promenade begins to become a reality.
After going down a road with towering trees above you, a building named Greystones appears on your left.
The building is said to be haunted by a monk drifting among the trees.
The monk died of a “broken heart” after the tragic death of his lover, and his ghost was last seen in 1989 by an American journalist who saw a brown-robed figure drifting behind the house.
The invisible ghostly woman
A few people have reported hearing the sound of a man and woman having a conversation with a barking dog while walking down the street.
Reports also suggest that it seems like people are standing right next to you, before they finally disappear.
Strangely enough, I heard the sound of a dog barking going down this road and I almost jumped out of my skin!
However, I was brought back to earth after seeing a Golden Retriever at the garden fence in front of me.
Court of roses
Tucked away behind bushes on an unnamed road that stretches to the left is Rose Court.
The house is said to be at least 250 years old and was built by a member of the Dering family for his mistress.
She reportedly fell in love with the monk who lived in Greystones, but found the ongoing love triangle terribly distressing.
This led her to drink a “fatal cocktail” which was distilled from the juice of ivy and other poisonous berries.
Inside the building, strange moans and sighs would occur during the night, and the garden has a strange atmosphere.
The lady with the watercress
For this part of the walk, you will need your walking shoes!
You descend the Pinnock which is a country road with cars passing at high speed and very little space to walk.
Despite the difficulties, a simple glance beyond the trees will quickly put you at ease.
Breathtaking views of the Kent countryside accompany you on your long descent, until you finally reach a stone bridge.
This is where an old gypsy is said to have picked watercress and sold it to the villagers.
Her ghost was noted as a faint pink glow hovering in the air where she was tragically burned to death.
Corner of fear
When you (finally) arrive at the end of The Pinnock, you are greeted by a crossroads where signs point in all directions.
This is called the “corner of fear”.
The place was also where a highwayman is said to have died.
In the early hours of winter evenings, passers-by noticed a ghostly figure running through the surrounding fields.
Just around the corner to your left you come to Dering Wood, but this one is locally called ‘Screaming Wood’.
It is said that a loud cry comes from deep in the woods and even sends birds away from the trees.
Certainly seemed to be the scariest part of the trail.
Although I didn’t hear any screams in the woods, knowing that it could happen at any time was quite disconcerting.
Fortunately the next part of the trail is back along the Pinnock so you don’t have to walk through the woods if you don’t want to.
Blacksmith’s forge tea room
Once you get to the top of Pinnock, you can see a building on the left that you would have passed on your way down.
The ghosts of a Tudor horseman and maid roamed the old tea room.
The building dates from the 14th century and eventually became a tavern.
However, the building remains signposted as a tea room, with a large sign on the side of the building that can be seen by those climbing the Pinnock.
After driving along Smarden Road you come to a remote, unpaved lane.
In the 1920s, a group of children were on their way to school when they saw their teacher’s body hanging from a tree branch.
The reason for the suicide was never discovered.
On some nights his ghostly form could have been seen, swaying back and forth from the branch.
After returning to The Street, where we started the spooky adventure, you immediately find a bakery around the corner.
Ghostly footsteps and freezing cold are just two of the things residents have noticed in years past.
This part of the street is also said to be the route of a ghost carriage and spectral horses that can be heard, but never seen, racing down the road in the wee hours of the morning.
The inn of the dark horse
The last stop on this tour is a cozy pub located next to the church and opposite the bakery.
There have been many ghostly experiences reported over the years at this property, and the current owners are even bringing in guests with their paranormal gear.
The dogs that visited the property suddenly stopped and started barking at something that no one else could see.
There was also an upstairs room that dogs refuse to enter, and the current owners even avoid it at night.