WELCOME to Haunted Wirral, a feature series written by world famous psychic researcher, Tom Slemen for the Globe.

In this latest tale, Tom tells the tale of a shapeshifting hitch-hiker.

ONE warm June night in the late 1970s, well-known television comic actor and presenter Leslie Crowther is said to have set out on a 19-mile journey from Chester, where he had been appearing in cabaret, to a friend's cottage in Heswall, and had taken the Chester High Road (A540) route.

There was a full moon out on this night, and Crowther glanced at his watch and saw the time was 10.45pm.

The car had just passed Ashfield Farm, Neston, when the entertainer noticed a young lady standing on the grass verge, about 120 yards ahead.

He slowed down and pulled over and saw that the kerbside female only looked about fifteen, perhaps even younger, and she stood there wearing a red beret and a long brownish coat that seemed to reach the floor.

Crowther rolled the window down and asked: "What on earth is a young girl like you doing out alone on a deserted road at this time of night?"

"I'm lost," said the girl in a meek voice.

"Where do you live?" a concerned Crowther enquired.

"I'm staying on the caravan site with my mum and dad but I can’t find it," the girl told him.

"Come on, get in," Crowther said to the girl, reaching over to open the front passenger door, "I'll find the place."

The girl got in the car and the comic asked her what her name was.

"Penny Powell," the girl replied.

"That's a sweet name," said Crowther, "and how old are you, Penny?"

"Thirteen," came the reply.

"Any idea where the caravan site roughly is, Penny?" said Crowther, scanning the moonlit farmland adjacent to the road through the small gaps in the trees lining the route.

"Penny Powell! Ha!" said a gruff mocking voice in the passenger seat.

Crowther turned his head left to look at his passenger and saw a man with a grotesque smiling face sitting there with a red beret on his head.

His eyes were tiny with luminous orange pupils, and his mouth was huge and lined with massive triangular teeth.

"You're not scared of a little girl are you?’ the frightening entity asked, and lunged at Crowther, and he drew away just in time to hear the thing's jaw snap shut close to his head.

He slammed on the brakes, quickly undid the safety belt in sheer panic and threw himself out the car as the hideous being shrieked with laughter. Crowther ran off in fear and confusion down the road, and when he looked back, he could not see the unearthly fiend.

A car horn beeped and the TV personality jumped with fright. He turned to see a car he had not seen for years - a gleaming Bristol 406 Saloon.

The lone female driver of this vintage car (who looked about 50) wound down her window and shouted "Are you in need of help?"

Crowther paused for a moment and thought the woman would think he was barmy if he told her what had just happened to him, but decided to tell her anyway, and when she had listened to his account of the creepy shape-shifting hitch-hiker, the lady said: "I believe you; some very strange things have happened on this road over the years.

There were sightings of a shadowy little man with a crooked-back on this section of the road years ago, and I saw him the night eight people died – on this very date in fact – in 1961.

A head-on collision with two cars it was.’

Crowther gingerly crept back to his car - and found it empty.

A red beret was resting on the seat - the only remnant of the supernatural visitation.

He quickly picked up the scarlet hat and threw it into the road.

"It's gone now - I hope," he told the lady in the saloon car, and she smiled, said "have a safe journey" and drove off.

Crowther sped from the scene and soon reached his friend's Heswall cottage.

When Leslie told his friend what had happened, he was told, "You've been overdoing it old boy, and that’s what you see when you burn the candle at both ends.

"You need to take a long holiday."

"I didn't imagine it," Crowther insisted, "it was as real as you!"

A few days later Crowther returned to London and received a call from his friend in Heswall a week later in the evening.

"Leslie, I saw her," he said.

"Saw who?" Crowther asked, puzzled at the reference.

"The girl in the red beret!

"The girl you gave the lift to – the one who changed into that thing – I saw her standing at the side of the road last night as I drove home, but I didn’t stop.

"Next thing I know she's standing on the grass verge about a quarter of a mile further along the road and the wife was with me - she saw her too."

The thing in the red beret has been seen on the Chester High Road in the form of a girl since the early 1950s, and a girl in a red beret was once seen jumping off the bridge where The Runnel crosses a railway line, but just what this entity is remains a mystery.

The hitchhiker often uses the names Penny Powell and Peggy Dowel to gain the confidence of the night-time motorist when it hitches a lift, but these names throw no light on the mystery whatsoever.

• Haunted Liverpool 33 is out soon on Amazon.