church stretton monkey

Canals can be eerie places. The way water distorts light and carries sound can make the lonely walker or boatman feel a distinct unease. Britain’s spookiest canal, or so the claim would have it, is the Shroppie, the Shropshire Union Canal that runs from Ellesmere Port toWolverhampton , and the strangest story associated with it is that of what some would have us believe is a ghostly – or even a living – British Bigfoot.
The spirit appears on a particular bridge on the canal, number 39, near Norbury, roughly halfway between Church Stretton and Bishops Castle , and the simplest explanation given for it is that it is the spectre of a drowned boatman who met his end there in the early 19th century, a huge and hirsute man. The most celebrated sighting occurred in 1879 when a carter passing that way late one January night was startled by a hulking hairy shape that leapt towards him, and defending himself with his whip found it passed through the thing.
Since that time there have been many sightings of the Shropshire Monkey Man: in 2002 a man steering a pleasure-boat passing beneath the bridge saw the ghastly creature; and as lately as 2005 another appearance was registered. Unromantic explanations are given in some circles for the original event in 1879, of a gorilla escaping from a travelling show; and even of the confusion of a story about a tramp. But they don’t explain the many times since then that Britain’s Spectral Bigfoot has turned up to petrify those enjoying the beauty of Shropshire.