Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Castle Dracula, or The night I shat it while running.

Having only been out twice in the last two weeks it was imperative I made it out tonight for a run.  I knew it was going to be heavy going and so it proved when I nipped up the dirt road and onto the canal path. I was planning on hitting the viaduct, taking a few snaps for the blog and heading home.  I was thinking maybe 4 miles or so.  As I trudged along the path, trying hit hit my stride I was aware of my achilles and ankles giving me pain.  Some pains were sharp and sudden, others were a dull ache.  As I became more and more mindful of these pains I started to feel it all over my body.  My usual knee issues started again and I could feel the effects of my gardening from the weekend across the tops of my shoulders.  With this in mind I decided not to go too far and came off the canal at the first opportunity. 

As it turns out it was a dogging spot picnic area beside a busy road.  A very busy road.  As I skipped across the road to avoid juggernaughts that tanked up and down the road I realised that I was only going to be out for a couple of miles.  Running on the even tarmac seems to have a beneficial effect as the pains subsided.  Perhaps I had just sufficiently warmed up by that point.  As I headed down to Lathallan roundabout I noticed the track that leads up to the remains of Lathallan House.  It's an abandoned house that I, despite living in the area all my life, have only just noticed in the last few years.  It's apparently an urban exploration area so decided to take a quick run up to see it.

The path had a gate pulled across it that I expertly nipped through without losing too much pace. I didn't give the fact it may have been shut for a reason a seconds thought.  It was only then I realised the wind had picked up and the sun had dropped behind the clouds.  Then I noticed the cows in the fields looking at me.  Then I saw these:

For some reason I started to feel very isolated but, maybe because of the cattle and sheep, I felt like I was being watched.  The path twisted up and around a little hill that partially hides the house.  As I jogged up it I thought to myself that I was disappearing from view of the roads.  It was at this stage I took my headphones out and dropped the pace.  Especially as the path tunnelled down through some overgrown bushes and trees.

Now I've seen plenty slasher flicks in my time so decided to pause my workout and tread carefully when I suddenly encountered this:

Lathallen House was suddenly in front of me.  It's seen better days, with it's roof caved in and rubbish strewn across the grounds.  I gingerly approached the front of the house and got so close before 20-30 black crows launched themselves skyward. They poured out of bushes and broken windows and half scared me to death.  I grabbed my phone and took a couple of pictures without moving any further forward.

I crept back towards the path before..for some reason, I decided to walk round the back.  There was a couple of outhouses of some kind, half demolished and full of debris.

When I turned the corner past the crumbling rumble I saw Lathallan House in it's entirety.  It is quite a building and it struck me that it is a crime the the council have let it fall into ruin.  Not that their decision to accept toxic waste from the Olympic site into the nearby landfill site would do a rejuvinated Lathallan House any favours. 

While I stood there in peaceful silence I heard a crack, like a stone crashing off stone from a height.  I was rooted to the spot, looking at all the doors and windows and then all around me.  Having had a previous run in with a drunken tramp while running I was fully expecting to see some tramp swinging at me.  Instead of running for it I was walking really slowly, eyes peeled, watching every bush and broken building for animals or worse.  I got back round to the front of the house and decided to leg it, especially past the hut on the path.  As I ran down the winding path back to the main road I must have turned round at least 15 times.  To be honest I was expecting to see Leatherface, swinging his chainsaw. 

I made it onto the main road before turning round for one last look and realised that the gate I had climbed through was open...

Not even being home settled my nerves, I was seriously spooked.  Then, when downloading the photos off my camera I also found something that made me think WTF is that!?  It's probably a reflection on old, dimpled glass or just low resolution pixels due to my phone's camera, or maybe it's something else.

As always, please stop by to donate to Save The Children.  I'll definately be there at the start line, unless I feel the urge to explore anymore mysterious ruins between now and September.

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