Haunted Manchester: The Ghosts of Saddleworth Moors

Mystery and the supernatural seem to go hand-in-hand with these barren hills...

By Ben Brown | Last updated 26 October 2021

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Here’s one for you. Morrissey from The Smiths once said that he saw a ghost and it was on the Saddleworth Moors. No, seriously.

Even though he’s seemingly lost his head in the last few years, he actually regaled us all with this story in his autobiography, explaining how he saw the spirit of a “troubled young man” back in 1989.

Impressively enough, Morrissey didn’t see the usual Victorian-style ghost that most cranks see, instead he says that this boy of maybe 18 years was totally grey with long hair in a 1970s style.

A very contemporary ghost indeed then, and one which ran out of the moors into the path of his car wearing a very small anorak and nothing else, and desperately pleaded for the car to stop.

Obviously this could have been an actual ghost, or it could have been some poor sod who got lost in the Moors and needed his help. He didn’t stop though and carried on driving because he “instinctively knew [it] was a spirit”.

You see, this is where Morrissey might have been onto something on that fateful night 30 years ago.
The Saddleworth Moors themselves are notorious for having a history of grizzly, gruesome deaths and spooky mysteries – not helped by the sheer desolation of the place.

We all know the horrifying circumstances and evil behind the Moors Murderers, and a landscape that still refuses to give up the grave of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady’s last remaining missing victim – the 12 year old Keith Bennett.

Police search for the Moors Murderer victims

There was also the long unsolved mystery of the man found dead on the moors in 2015, who was only identified recently, with speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding his death rife for years.

The man, later named as David Lytton, boarded a plane in Lahore and travelled 4,000 miles to London, then made his way up to Manchester and was witnessed walking into the Clarence pub in Greenfield. He asked for directions to the “top of the mountain” and a day later – his body was found on a secluded moorland path.

David Lytton or ‘Neil Dovestones’ as he was known

The mystery surrounding the man, why he travelled so far and how he died captivated media outlets and social media sleuths for years – with many claiming he was an international spy, or perhaps a survivor from a plane crash in the area which killed 24 people in 1949.

Still to this day nobody knows why he travelled to Saddleworth or indeed much of anything else about the man’s life before he ended up dead on the Moors. The mystery looks set to never be solved.

The dark, foggy and wild plains of the moors have been known to be home to many more mysteries over the years.

A Roman legion is said to be seen by walkers on Bleak Moor, victims of an ambush by British tribes – their bodies still preserved as mummies in the area’s famous peat – waiting to be discovered.

All of these spooky goings on are nothing compared to the multiple UFO sightings that have been reported over the years, the largest of which was the size of a double decker bus seen in 1975.
People have also claimed to see a hexagonal pattern of six lights, which sped off quickly and disappeared after a few seconds.

Basically, the Moors are a truly frightening place, and, much like in the film ‘An American Werewolf in London’ you don’t want to find yourself out there at night time. Or during the day really.