Bucks Free Press, newspaper for Buckinghamshire.

Is canal being used for strange rituals?
By Alison White

Brian Macknish with some of the unusual items discarded in the canal NK3951-03

RESTORATION enthusiasts think they have found evidence of "bizarre" rituals after fishing out 12 coconuts, 12 nails and a package full of lentils from a derelict canal.

Volunteers carrying out a weekly clear-up of the disused Thames and Medway Canal have been left baffled by the strange findings.

All the items were wrapped in a black cloth and appeared to have been dropped into the canal.

Members of the Thames and Medway Canal Association have heard the items could have something to do with people carrying out rituals set by gurus or witch doctors.

But they are baffled about the significance of the items and what they could mean.

The 100-strong association was set up in 1976 to restore the canal, which runs from Gravesend to Higham, so it can be used for leisure activities such as fishing, canoeing and boating.

Each Tuesday members meet for a about three hours to strim grass, tidy rubbish and clear greenery.

Up until now members have only found junk such as tyres, engine parts and an abandoned car. However, on April 25, they found an odd package containing 28 pounds of black lentils.

It had been dropped off at their landing stage near Mark Lane, Gravesend, and was lying in mud on the canal's bank.

Association chairman Brian Macknish said the area does occasionally attract vandals but not ritual-holders.

He said: "It's bizarre. There has to be a good reason for it. I asked someone who said it could be something to do with gurus.

"They tell people to do things to bring them good luck.

"Somebody said to me they scoop out the coconuts, put ashes of the dead in and throw them in the river.

"We have never found anything like this before. There is something in it."