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Howden Moor

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Howden Moor is up high in the wilds of the Peak District to the west of Sheffield in northern Derbyshire. Over the past twenty years, the area has been a source of much controversy. The area of the moors and the surrounding areas are rich in supernatural sightings that include Unidentified Flying Objects and ghosts of both humans and aircraft.


Given its name by the dark grey millstone grit that covers the landscape, the Dark Peak has been the site of a number of crashes and incidents that involved military craft, which are all largely attributed to grim weather and poor navigation. Due to the bleak surrounding environment, the wrecks of aircraft are often left untouched for years, only to be found by unwitting travellers hiking across the moors, and many cases have emerged reporting sightings of low-flying “ghost planes”, many of which are noted as wartime planes such as Wellington-, B-Class-, and Lancaster Bombers.


Monday 24th of March 1997 was a normal, cool, spring evening featuring clear skies and a full moon above northern England. Many would have disregarded the night as entirely unspectacular if not for the passing of the Halle-Bopp comet… and indeed for the peculiar series of events which unfolded above Howden Moor.

Most UFO cases are based solely upon the testimonies of witnesses, but on that night at 9.00pm two “sonic booms” were recorded by the British Geological Survey that had their equipment listening for seismic events. It was found that these two “booms” had originated from above ground, and were suspected to be caused by the breaking of the sound barrier, though by what had yet to be determined.

At 10.15pm, the local authorities received their first inquiry from two farmers about possible air-training exercises to the west above the moors. The farmers said they had seen a low-flying jet aircraft disappear over the horizon, followed shortly by a plume of smoke and a bright yellow flash. Within the next hour, further calls were received by the South Yorkshire and Derbyshire Police Department, reporting a bright orange glow on the moors and a plane crash. This prompted the local authorities to contact both civilian and military airports that may have had traffic flying above the Peak District, but the same response came from everyone: “it’s not ours”.

By 11.00pm that night, search helicopters had been dispatched over the area and Fire and Rescue brigades, which included over 140 people in total, were thoroughly inspecting over 50 square miles of moorland. Each team reported no clues of a possible crash landing, and the search helicopters turned in no results. The conclusion at the end of the night was that no aircraft had crashed on the moor.

Spanning the next few weeks, testimonies were put forwards by dozens of observers. They ranged from descriptions of “horrendous noises” to sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects over nearby towns. Two sightings in particular are those of Bryan Haslam from Keighley and Emma Maidenhead from Dronfield, with their descriptions of a triangle-shaped craft being near-identical. Emma described the object as “huge and triangular, 2-300 feet across” with “an electric blue light underneath and two pinks lights to the front”, and told that it emitted a high-pitched whining sound, like “wet power lines or an electrical substation”, and Bryan’s testimony matches the description while also saying that “it lit up the whole street like daylight”.

Claims have also been made that a UFO was tracked on local radar at around 10.00pm that same night, before quickly shooting off the screen. The report was made by an unknown radar operator that, when pressed for more information, refused any further information on the grounds that it would breach his national security oath. However, when the local RAF public relations office was asked about the radar, they released the statement that: “We are the only people who would have any reason to fly above the region and we were not practicing last night. We can also confirm that nothing was picked up on radar.”

The official government response was that nothing had happened that night, and apart from the sonic booms there is no solid evidence to suggest otherwise. Many critics and theorists now suggest that the entire escapade and search-and-rescue mission was a government cover-up for the sighting of a UFO.



Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Woodhead Road, Crowden, Glossop
Derbyshire, England, SK13 1HZ
+44 (0)1457 866 057

Contact Details

  • Address: Car Park, Ladybower Reservoir, (Off) A57 Snake Rd, Bamford, Derbyshire, UK, S33 0AX
  • GPS: 53.37533029999999,-1.7068698000000495
  • Part of UK: England
  • Sat Nav Postcode: S33 0AX
  • Entrance Fees: Free Access
  • Disabled Access: Poor
  • Visibility from Road: Poor
  • Image Credits: Ian Woolcock

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