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The Barmouth Ghost

January 15, 2012

Since those distant days of long hair and flared trousers, I’d been telling the tale of my one and only possible ghost sighting.  It happened at the seaside resort of Barmouth in Gwynedd, West Wales, in 1976.  I wrote it up in my diary at the time but, along with my other old diaries, this one later disappeared.  It was a story that always held attention, but had I remained faithful to the facts or unconsciously embellished the account to heighten interest?  I couldn’t be sure.

Then, last year, during a clear-out, my old diaries turned up buried at the bottom of a large cardboard box.  Sure enough, there was my 1976 diary…and there the relevant entry, dated Monday 6th September and headed ‘The Ghost On The Barmouth Line’.  Eureka!

We were in Barmouth at the start of a week’s holiday at a caravan park, myself, my wife Stella, our two young children and Stella’s late-mother Nora.

Barmouth overlooks Cardigan Bay and the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary.  To the rear of the old stone-built town is a mountain with cottages perched one above the other on its lower slopes and the heather-grown expanse of Dinas Olau above.  The cries of gulls echo from the mountainside and down the narrow streets.

Reading my diary entry I found that one particular inaccuracy had crept into my oral account – the posture of the apparition: it had been standing, not sitting.  I shall reproduce the entry below with just the occasional minor tweak to help the flow.


Barmouth, 7:00 am:  I’ve always said I’ll believe in ghosts when I’ve seen one with my own eyes.  Well, last night I saw something, and now I don’t know what to believe.

It was about 9:30 pm and dark.  I was on my own, taking an exploratory stroll, enjoying the peace and quiet and salty sea air.  I’d followed the promenade to its northern end, crossed the railway and was about halfway up the narrow track that leads steeply uphill to the main road.  I’d turned to lean against the low wall and view the moonlit bay.  A beautiful scene, the sea retreating beyond the breakwater, a sprinkling of tiny lights low down on either side of the bay.

Against the lazy wash of the sea I could hear the zithering of insects in the undergrowth; otherwise all was silent.

Below, about 150 yards away, someone was moving up the railway line towards Barmouth.  Seems in a hurry, I thought.  Then I realised he was approaching faster than anyone could possibly run, about 25 miles per hour.  I rubbed my eyes and looked again and there he was.  I say “he” but the apparition might well have been a “she”.  All I could see was this dark figure, a tall, erect figure coming silently up the line with no apparent means of locomotion.  Strangely enough, I didn’t feel in the least alarmed; I was simply fascinated.  The figure had an unreal look somehow, a shadowy look, and was floating up the track as if riding an invisible, silent train…

A moment later the figure dissolved; then a car on the promenade threw light over the lines and I saw there was nothing there.

Had I seen a ghost – perhaps the ghost of someone who’d died on a train pulling into Barmouth?  It wasn’t possible, was it…surely?


My sighting, so long ago, must have been on the Cambrian Coast Railway, the “ghost” southbound along the stretch of line between Dyffryn Ardudwy and Barmouth Station. 

Searching the net, I’ve found mentions of a local sea monster and poltergeist but nothing about my railway “ghost”.  So if anyone has any information about him, or her, please leave a comment!


From → True Stories

  1. An old grade-school friend of mine, Cindy, would be thrilled at this story, as I am. It’s great to believe there is something relevant that happens after we depart this world. Cindy, however, relishes the “fact” that her New Orleans home was inhabited by poltergeists. The entire family saw them, even the dog! She considered leaving, but the rent was fantastic. She is putting her tale into text and promised me that I could share these “true accounts” with my friends. Haunting, this Railway Ghost. And chalk that experience up to paranormal happenstance. “I saw a shooting star change directions once …….. wait, that’s another story, yet true.”

    • Hi Jackie, I like Cindy’s poltergeist story. Do tell her about my railway ghost. The Barmouth poltergeist mentioned in my post was featured in a journal called Folk-lore in 1842. Apparently it was a noisy poltergeist who took fright and scarpered when the children of the house retaliated with a commotion of their own!

      You must tell me about your shooting star someday.

      Hope 2012 has got off to a good start for you Stateside and your writing is going well.

      All best, Paul

  2. Both my parents had passed by the time I was 35. My mother lived to see my first child and my father passed after my second son was almost three. They never got to see my daughter. As my children grew I often wished they could have known their grandparents. I wished they could see them now I would think. They were teenagers and I knew my parents would have been so loving and proud. We were all sitting at the dining room table and I was being asked about “the old days” I was telling them a funny story about my dad. All of a sudden, in the chair that my son Kevin sat in my father appeared. It was not a ghostly image where you could see through him. It was a life like image, he was smiling. It lasted only a few seconds. I stopped talking and my hand shot up to cover my mouth. Then he was gone. “What’s the matter mom” they said.
    ” Oh, nothing.” I replied. We continued our conversation, but I knew my dad was there with us.

    • Dear Pat, thank you for this wonderful memory. Sadly, it was a similar situation with my parents in-law. They were lovely people, Liverpudlians, and would have delighted in our four children, as they would in them.

      My mum passed away in 2006, my dad in 2012, and there are moments still when I have a very strong sense of their presence. It’s uncanny, but a good feeling too, as I’m sure it must have been for you when your father appeared in Kevin’s chair.

      Your account moves me and I shall treasure it.


  3. Thank you Paul. The sense of presence is real. The good feeling is a hug from whom ever is visiting you. My son is now 40 and he tends to have many traits that my dad had. I too treasure those moments. We are never alone.

  4. Interesting stuff. I come from near the area ( Carmarthenshire ) and I know Gwynedd quite well. It is well known for both paranormal and UFO sightings as it’s near the tip of the Broadhaven Triangle. Great article

    • Thanks, Evans, and welcome to my blog. Although sceptical by nature, I could not deny the evidence of my own eyes that evening in Barmouth. My railway apparition might have defied rational explanation but it was real enough. Could there be a connection with the ‘Broadhaven Triangle’ UFOs and aliens? Much food for thought there!

      Do call again soon and maybe check out ‘The Lligwy Panther’ (under True Stories).



  5. Maureen Weldon permalink

    This is a remarkable story, in fact I do not beleive it is just a story for there are many things I believe that none of us really understand. And the words of this story are beautiful.

  6. Maureen, thank you so much for this. I also believe that, despite advances in science, there will always be much beyond our ken. If my Barmouth sighting thirty-eight years ago wasn’t a ghost, I’d like to know what it was!

    So glad you enjoyed my account; I love your work too.

    Yours always,


  7. I don’t understand ghosts and have never seen one, but I believe they exist. Congrats on your ghost-sighting.

    • Thank you, Cynthia, and welcome to my blog. I’m so pleased to have discovered your own blog a few days ago. Your heartwarming accounts of daily life are a joy to read, and I love the sound of your children’s picture book, ‘Myrtle the Purple Turtle’. (I’ve written a few children’s stories myself – see under ‘Stories for Children’.)

      My ‘Barmouth Ghost’ of 42 years ago certainly affected me profoundly. Here’s how I responded to a comment from Betty Hayes Albright on my post of 21/01/18, ‘On the trail of the ghost’:

      “I was always a dyed-in-the-wool sceptic who said he’d believe in ghosts when he saw one. There would be a rational or scientific reason for every supposedly supernatural sighting, I thought. So you can imagine how I pinched myself, rubbed my eyes and looked around for any natural explanation when I saw what I saw that long-ago night in Barmouth.

      “I still believe that supernatural claims require close examination. The coastal ‘ghost lights’ or ‘corpse candles’ of Barmouth folklore may, it is now believed, have been due to the spontaneous combustion of marsh gas.

      “Yet there are limits to scientific knowledge, and who knows what lies beyond?

      “As for my ‘Barmouth Ghost’, I have the best evidence of all: the evidence of my own eyes.”

      Betty then remarked that quantum physics has begun to suggest many new possibilities…

      All best wishes to you, Cynthia, and thanks again,


      • Thanks, Paul. There is much that science can’t explain. And there are liminal moments when we become awake to the mysterious and the divine.

  8. Hi Cynthia, thanks for this. Those liminal moments, yes…their occurrence for me is only occasional and always unexpected, when I’ve lost myself in admiration of nature and the universe. I have a poem on this theme called ‘Shag Tobacco’. It was published in ‘Sons of Camus Writers International Journal’, Issue 12, and appears in my collection ‘Twin Dakotas: poetry and prose’ (Cestrian Press, 2016). Will post it here soon.

    Take care,


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