The Lairs/Pipers Vale Ipswich
Set beside the River Orwell, the “Lairs,” as it is affectionately known by locals, is a valley of natural beauty, but behind the facade, a different story begins to unfold. Suffolk Paranormal Investigations decided to investigate this after a wave of sightings.
After researching the area and talking to locals, we were surprised by the amount of people telling the same story. Strange balls of light around the Orwell Bridge and dancing over the River Orwell are seen regularly. The bridge has been the site of several suicides since being built in 1982.
A white figure, the feeling of being watched, and cold spots that witnesses walk through have all been experienced in one particular area of the valley. The sound of horses’ hooves has been heard, and a white figure on a horse has been seen here by a number of witnesses, spanning a number of years.
An Ipswich resident, related the following experience to us: “I used to take my dog out for a walk down Pipers Vale, Ipswich. Twice I heard the sound of a horse coming from behind me. I turned round and was going to wait and let it pass, but there was no one on the open area. I was really surprised, as I had heard it clearly. A different time, I was walking in the same place with my wife and son and I heard it again. No one else had. I thought I was imagining things. I do not believe in ghosts, but my wife said that maybe that’s what it was. About five years later, a neighbor told me they had heard the same thing close to where I had.”
Margaret Catchpole was a notorious horse thief and jail breaker who was born in Suffolk in 1762. By her 30s, she was working in service for the Cobbold family in Ipswich. She was famed for her horsemanship after riding bareback from Nacton to Ipswich for a doctor to help her sick mistress.
The route Margaret had taken that night coincided with the sightings of the figure on a horse and the sound of hooves.
The lane where people have reported the white figure, cold spot, and feeling of being watched leads to a huge oak tree where Margaret used to tie her horses.