The Phantom Hitchhiker of Somerset

The A38 is a road that runs from Derby all the way to Cornwall and there is a 10 mile section of the road in the county of Somerset that had many sightings of a hitchhiker who would always dressed be described as wearing a long light coloured overcoat, whilst holding a torch downwards and was described as a middle-aged man. He would sometimes appear in the middle of the road so that when a lone driver would see him, they would swerve so as not to hit him, but the man was nowhere to be seen when the driver stopped their car and checked their mirrors. 

On one occasion, it was a motorcyclist, who, upon seeing the figure in the road, swerved too abruptly, fell off and broke a limb. 

These incidents were reported to a local Somerset newspaper in the early 1970s and a man, Mr Unsworth, contacted the newspaper to tell of his strange encounters with this phantom hitchhiker that occurred in the 1950s. Mr Unsworth was a lorry driver and the A38 road was a road he regularly drove on in the early hours of the morning. He was rather embarrassed to tell of his experiences but felt he needed to.  

It was around 3am and Mr Unsworth was driving back to his depot on the A38. The weather that morning was wet and damp when Mr Unsworth saw a man trying to flag down a lift. This man looked soaked to the bone as his longish grey hair was dripping with water. He was wearing a light coloured overcoat and carrying a torch and when Mr Unsworth saw him, so he stopped his lorry to offer this man a lift. The hitchhiker spoke with a well-educated accent and asked Mr Unsworth to drop him off by a bridge, which was around 4 miles away. As they travelled along, the hitchhiker began talking about accidents that happened at the bridge he’d asked to be dropped off at. He spoke about these gruesome accidents in a gleeful tone and Mr Unsworth was glad when the hitchhiker finally got out of the lorry.


It was several days later when, again, Mr Unsworth was travelling on the A38 at 3am in the morning and it was wet and cold. As he approached the stretch of road where he had previously picked up the hitchhiker, he was shocked to see the man again, trying to flag down a lift. For whatever reason, Mr Unsworth gave this man a lift to the same bridge as the first time. Yet again, this man held the same strange conversation about accidents at the bridge and spoke about it in the same gleeful tone. 


This was to happen a third time and Mr Unsworth felt the man was mentally disturbed due to hitchhiking in such foul weather in the early hours of the morning and to talk about harrowing accidents. He was relieved not to see the figure again in the following months.  

That was, until an early murky and rainy morning in November. Mr Unsworth gave him yet another lift. Mr Unsworth felt this was becoming rather odd but this time the hitchhiker asked if Mr Unsworth could wait at the bridge for him as he had a few things he needed to collect and wanted to travel a few miles further after these items had been collected. So Mr Unsworth let out the hitchhiker and waited. He waited a good while, but the hitchhiker hadn’t turned back up, so Mr Unsworth decided to leave.   

He had gone 3 miles up the A38 when, all of a sudden, he saw the man he had dropped off at the bridge! There was no mistaking his overcoat, hair and torch. Mr Unsworth thought that it would’ve been impossible for the man to cover that 3 mile distance on foot alone. Also, Mr Unsworth had seen no other cars on the road since dropping the hitchhiker off.  

Mr Unsworth gave this man a wide berth and as he did, the man jumped right in front of the lorry, so the lorry had to swerve and Mr Unsworth managed to keep his lorry under control. He stopped the lorry and got out. What he saw was the figure of the hitchhiker on the road, shaking his fist and swearing out loud. Mr Unsworth quickly got back in his cab, feeling the need for some sort of normality as this situation didn’t make any sense!  

Fortunately, Mr Unsworth was to never see this hitchhiker again.

The A38 has had many fatal accidents over the years so just who is this phantom hitchhiker? Just be extra careful if you ever find yourself driving down a lonely stretch of the A38 in Somerset in the dark……