One of the many, many reasons I love Halloween is because it's perhaps the only holiday which is great because of – rather than in spite of – the commercialisation. There's just something so wonderful about walking down the high street to find all manner of ghosts and ghoulies in every single shop window that I can't help but find myself enthralled and ecstatic throughout the latter days of October.
And then, look at this – how completely marvellous – the good, good people of Ford have compiled a list of “blood curdling” destinations for your sat nav on Halloween!
They say: “With the country’s rich yet dark history of bloodthirsty monarchs, medieval folklore and witchcraft, Ford sat navs store a host of ghostly and sinister destinations – from the haunted castles of Scotland and England to Hanging Hill Lane, in Essex, and Cornwall’s ghostly Jamaica Inn.”
Regrettably, none of these places made Ford's list. Instead, they've gone for places that sound scary. Specifically, the UK's 20 scariest road names. Look:
1.Ghost House Lane, Beeston, Nottinghamshire
2.Devil's Dyke Road, Brighton
3.Blood Hill, Somersham, Suffolk
4.Warlock Road, Paddington
5.Black Cat Drive, Northampton
6.Gallow’s Hill, Warwick
7.Hallow Road, Worcester
8.Witches Walk, Bridgwater
9.Ducking Stool Court, Romford
10.Headless Cross Drive, Redditch
11.Crucifix Lane, Camberwell
12.Bats Lane, Winterbourne St Martin, Dorset
13.Cemetery Road, Sheffield
14.Dead Lane, Colchester, Essex
15.Hanging Hill Lane, Brentwood, Essex
16.Hell Lane, Wakefield
17.Broomstick Lane, Botley
18.Stake Lane, Farnborough
19.Elm Street, Manchester
20.Dark Lane, Bedworth
Unfortunately, I can imagine driving to those places to find nothing more than an ordinary British residential street. I can imagine exchanging a blank look with my cohorts before rolling on again with a sigh.
"These road names may appear frightening at first glance but there's rather more to it than that," says Dr James Willoughby, Oxford University historian. "Place-names derive usually from Old English words that were descriptive of the landscape the settlement sits in. They may look like modern words, but that's because they have changed their shape over the centuries. Slaughters Rough is a good example. 'Slaughter' is generally agreed to come from an Old English word 'slohtre', meaning 'muddy place'."
Aw, thanks doctor! You've made Halloween scary again!
Gallows Hill in Lancaster is, apparently, particularly scary. We'll let the good doctor explain: "Gallows Hill is a name referring to a former place of execution," he says. "In this particular case it refers to the place of execution of the so-called Pendle Witches, a group of a dozen witches who were tried in 1612 for the murders of 10 people by witchcraft."
Happy Halloween, everyone!