After sporadically purchasing TAC over the years, I have recently discovered the delights of the website and have entertained myself over many a lunchtime reading through the back copies. Of particular interest were the various accounts of an unexplained terror, often accompanied by a feeling that someone else is present, that several contributors have encountered (see TAC37/38). They sounded almost identical to an experience I had on Lewis several years ago - although I was in a car at the time.
In November 1997 I was carrying out research which involved interviewing people in various parts of rural Lewis. I was staying in a rented cottage at Dail Beag on the island's west coast. Many of the interviews were carried out at night and would involve me driving back to the cottage via the main road (the A858) at around 9:30-10pm.
One night I was returning as usual. I had passed through Siabost and I recall the road dropping down close to the south-eastern edge of Loch Raoinebhat and entering a straight which - if memory serves - was quite close to the loch. At the bottom of the descent, I remember being overcome by a feeling of utter terror. There was also a powerful presence - like there was now someone or something in the car with me.
My instinctive response was to put the pedal to the floor and to get the hell out of there as fast as my aged Renault 5 would go. The terror/presence then dissipated fairly quickly; the whole episode probably lasted no more than about ten seconds. Although shaken at the time, I didn't give it much more thought until two or three nights later, when (at a similar time of night) exactly the same terror/presence thing happened at exactly the same spot on the road. Again, it only lasted a few seconds but it was very powerful and very spooky.
Fortunately, I only had to stay in Lewis for one or two nights after the second incident and it didn't happen again. However, I do remember having to drive past the spot in the dark on at least one further occasion, and "managing" my terror by cranking up the volume on the stereo, singing along at the top of my voice to whatever was on, and approaching the particular stretch at a (pre-Citroen) Colin McRae-like rate of knots. It seemed to work!
I did wonder at the time what it might have caused it. The fact that the terror/presence occurred twice at exactly the same place had me thinking that something paranormal was afoot. Was it a spirit or a ghost (I have a fairly open mind on such things)? Had there been a car crash at the spot? Had someone drowned in the loch nearby? However, after reading accounts of similar incidents in TAC, I am now convinced that I experienced a relatively common, though still unexplained, "hill" phenomenon (albeit in a Renault 5).
TAC 60 Index