High up on the moor, on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire, there sits an old building called the Stoodley Pike Monument (pronounced stud-lee). It’s an imposing structure, which can be seen for miles.
Essentially, it’s a big stone cube topped with an obelisk. Inside the monument is a staircase which leads up to a viewing platform on the top of the cube section, which gives you maybe an extra 40ft height to view the surrounding countryside.
It’s a place I’ve been to plenty of times, but recently I ended up hiking around that area with a friend who hadn’t seen it before. So we took a quick diversion to climb the pike and look at the monument at the top.
At this point, we split off from each other to take some photos, adjust backpacks… That sort of thing. So when I headed to the spiral staircase to climb up to the balcony, I went alone.
Now, this staircase is made of the same dark stone as the rest of the monument. The curve of the spiral is very tight and claustrophobic, and it is Pitch. Black.
Already having been up it before, I knew this, so I had my phone torch already out and ready to go. And as I was climbing I could see a pair of walking boots in the dim light of my phone, just poking out from the curve of the staircase, climbing at the same speed as me.
Assuming that this was my friend, I made some offhand joke to her about hoping we didn’t get murdered on the “spooooky” steps.
When I reached the balcony, however, she was nowhere to be seen.
Now, this balcony runs around the entire base of the obelisk, so it’s impossible to have a view of the whole walkway at once.
As I said, I’ve been up this thing a few times now; so I didn’t bother walking around the whole thing. I just leaned by the doorway to take in the view while I waited for my friend, who I just assumed had rushed off to do a lap of the balcony, maybe taking some pictures as she did so.
After maybe a minute, who should appear in the doorway, a little out of breath from climbing the stairs, but my friend?
A bit confused, I quickly laughed it off. “I thought you were already up here,” I said. “I was just talking to an absolute stranger, thinking it was you. They must think I’m mad!”
A bit taken aback, she asked me if anyone else was up here. And, after telling her about the stairs, she went off to soak in the views of the moor, expecting to bump into someone on the way around.
I just carried on stood where I was, looking down onto the town of Todmorden, trying to pick out any buildings I recognised, waiting for my friend to do her thing.
A couple of minutes go by, and she comes back round the corner. Joking, I said “So, did they mention the random stranger chatting shit about murderers?” Referring back to the joke I’d come out with on the staircase.
Now it was my friend’s turn to be confused. “There wasn’t anyone up here.”
“Oh,” I replied, processing that. “That’s weird.”
No one had come past me, and I had been stood by the only door the whole time. I’d definitely seen and heard those feet coming up the stairs, but I hadn’t really paid attention to who they were attached to, given that it was dark and I was concentrating on my own feet to avoid tripping.
Finally, I asked: “Are you taking the piss out of me?”
“No” she frowned. “Are you?”
I shook my head, still a bit baffled, and we both headed back down to ground level. We both continued the hike, and I just sort of shrugged the whole thing off.
In hindsight, though, I’m still a bit confused and unsettled by the whole thing. Whose feet were those?