Cycling

The cyclist who drove off a cliff and other strange stories from Humber Bridge Country Park

For decades it has been one of East Yorkshire’s most popular beauty spots. Humber Bridge Country Park is popular with families, walkers and nature lovers alike.

It was opened as a nature reserve in 1986, but its history goes back much further, to the days when it was known for its chalk quarry. It was nicknamed Little Switzerland because the chalk cliffs looked like snow-capped mountain peaks.

Over the years, myths and legends have formed around the park, from a ‘murdered’ child to tales of witch covens. Here are some of the strangest ones uncovered by local historian Mike Covell.

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The “murdered” child

It has long been said that a child was murdered at Country Park, but no such case has ever been found. Could it be that the story is being confused with an actual child murder in the town of Hessle? On Wednesday April 17, 1872, a child was found dead in a backyard. A rag had been pressed down the little girl’s throat, causing her to suffocate. The killer was never found.

The Headless Man

According to legend, a headless man roams the forest at night. One lurid theory has it that he is the ghost of a motorcyclist who was beheaded in the park “in the 1960s”. Again, there is a grain of truth behind this. In October 1962, motorcyclist Leslie Hutchinson was beaten to death next to his bicycle in Hessle. His body was dragged under a trailer but was soon discovered.

Reports of his gruesome death indicated that a length of wire had been laid across the roadway in an attempt to throw him off his motorcycle. He was then “beheaded”. However, a pathologist revealed the actual cause of death was a blow to the head and strangulation. Charles Frederick Green pleaded guilty to murder on January 28, 1963.

The rather spooky looking quarry work at Little Switzerland, Hessle, in the 1940’s.

The Hessle spirit

One of the strangest hauntings at the site involves the “ghost” of Hessle, which was first sighted in 1894 and caused “a lot of excitement”. The sightings attracted Victorian paranormal investigators, but the explanation disappointed them. It turned out to be a cow that had more white spots than black, making her appear like a ghostly visitor.

The disappearing cyclist

In the early 1980’s a group of boys rode their bicycles from Hull to Little Switzerland to see the construction of the Humber Bridge. Two of the guys leading the pack noticed a third, much faster cyclist in front of them. Each time they tried to catch up, he rode faster until they finally got to Little Switzerland.

The boys then watched in horror as the mysterious cyclist drove straight off a cliff at the quarry. According to the boys, they went to a local coffee shop where they were told the phantom cyclist was seen regularly. It has been said that the cyclist died falling over the edge of the quarry, and his spirit continues to repeat the tragedy.

The “Black Mill” on the Hessle foreland was built in 1806.

Witchcraft and other tall tales

It has been claimed over the years that Little Switzerland was a haven for witches in Victorian times and that Satanists practiced here in the 1980s. Another spooky tale involves the Black Mill, so named because it is said to be “cursed.” All of these claims are unfounded.

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