Woodland Durham ‘The Hum’
Woodland Durham ‘The Hum’. A village inexplicably throbs in the middle of the night. But up the road in Gateshead, they're transforming the local landscape - into cake. The Mysterious Hum sounds like the title of a promising scifi novel but for villagers in Woodland, county Durham, the racket is a bit too real.

Sometimes throbbing, sometimes almost growling, the unexplained noise has affected every resident in the solitary main street surrounded by farmland, fells and the edge of Hamsterley Forest.

It's a lovely part of the world, made famous by R S Surtees and his stories of Jorrocks and the 19th century world of the turf and hunting. Many were written at Surtees' 18th century home, Hamsterley Hall, a rare example of Georgian Gothic which is currently at the centre of a house-building controversy.

Surtees didn't have to put up with The Hum, however, although he might have found useful literary material in victims such as Marylin Grech, a 57-year-old retired store detective. Her husband Mario, 67, is partially deaf and not affected, but she certainly is.

"It's a constant very low-frequency humming noise that can be heard between midnight and 4am and it's stopping me from sleeping," she says. "In certain areas of the house you can hear it more loudly. It is definitely from outside, it's in the air, all around, very faint. It vibrates through the house. We've turned all the electricity off in the house and we can still hear it, so it's not that.

"Sometimes we'll be in bed and it vibrates right through our bed, like a throbbing. It's not tinnitus, that's a high pitched sound and this is very low. If I put my fingers in my ears it stops, so I know it's not in my head. At 4am it's so clear, and because we live in such a isolated place with no traffic, it's heaven.

"But it leaves a buzzing in your head for the rest of the day."

Durham county's environmental health department is now on the case, checking accounts since the first Hum reports two months ago. One clue could be the long history of mining in the area, whose surface beauty belies a subterranean maze of sealed-off workings, initially for lead and latterly for coal.

"I think the noise might be a signal coming from underground," Marylin says.

Read more: guardian

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