The first thing that spooks you is the noise.
It's the rustling, scratching sound of countless tiny feet and at times it's so intense that the hedgerows are alive with it. And then you see them.
Rats! Big rats with long, wormy tails. . . baby rats squealing for their mothers. . . rats preening themselves nonchalantly on a doorstep . . . rats taking food from the bird tables or scraps from the bins.
Flamborough: Many residents are afraid to go out because of the number of rodents on the loose
There are more of the little blighters here than it seems possible to fit into an otherwise ordinary swathe of pleasant, rural England. For this is the place where a mass infestation has become so overwhelming that people have been frightened to leave their homes.
Paperboys and deliverymen tread gingerly up garden paths and even cats, it appears, prefer to stay indoors.
I am standing in the epicentre of Ratville UK - the creepy, wriggly, ratty capital of Britain. It is the Yorkshire coastal village of Flamborough, where colonies of the unloved creatures have spent the last few weeks rampaging through fields, gardens and homes.
'There must be thousands of them,' said parish council chairman Ian Woodhouse. 'They're in the fields, on the roads - everywhere. One lady even had them running around her house. It's become a massive problem.'
Steve Crowther, who runs a local DIY shop, said: 'A mate of mine was driving out of the pub and saw two or three hundred of them in the road. There was a carpet of them - just a big brown mass. As soon as the headlights caught them, they darted everywhere.'
Once the rats get established they breed . . . well, like rats. Two rats can become an extended family of several hundred in the space of a year. In Flamborough, the grass verges boast more rat-runs than the London rush-hour.
Most locals have encountered them, and some still shudder at the thought. One woman said she was so terrified of walking into the village that she tucked her trousers into her wellies and sealed the tops with plastic bags and rubber bands (a
curious sight, even in rural East Yorkshire). Another didn't venture into her garage all week for fear of a rat-pack incursion.
Nearby, retired farmer Richard Greenwood, 84, spent £48 on rat poison but still watches rats boldly preening themselves just inches from his back door. 'I'm not scared of them and they're not scared of me,' he said. 'But the womenfolk don't like them at all.'
It's the same everywhere around North Marine Road, where the main infestation has taken hold. Alan and Julie Sanders regularly spot rats in their hedge, or scurrying along the tops of their garden walls.
Mrs Sanders now puts the rubbish out for a neighbour who is too scared to brave Ratville at night. Alan, 58, told me: 'I've only seen two or three at a time but they do seem to go around in gangs.'
As we talk, Cleo, the couple's tabby cat, comes in from the garden. 'She's normally a hunter,' says Alan. 'She brought a pheasant in through the cat-flap once, but she doesn't tackle the rats.'
Flamborough's rat population explosion is attributed to a variety of factors, some more fanciful than others. Two lunchtime drinkers in the local pub speculated it was punishment for evil deeds, and warned that a plague of locusts would surely follow.
Others simply blamed the damp summer. Favourite theory was that the rats were thriving on strips of corn which a local farmer left growing on the perimeter of fields when he ploughed them. It's a practice encouraged by environmentalists to help wildlife - and whatever your view of rats, they do qualify as wildlife.