"Many strange things may be seen in the Great Swamps, not all real. But I tell you, there was a ship and it was real! Well it was old and all sails torn and had many holes in the hull... but anyway it was hundreds of miles from the Sea! How it came to be there, I can only wonder..."
(If it is not a hallucination, may be inhabited by wererats.)
A little way up the narrow valley, before they reach the woods, the PCs notice the squat, tumbledown buildings by the riverside. They are hardly big enough for a human to stand in, and the complex cogs and shafts that occupy the central cavity of one of the buildings are perplexing. What were these buildings? And how safe are they to explore?
Alternatively a desolate place is the perfect setting for a derelict chapel or croft. There needn't be any actual physical encounter involved, but it adds atmosphere to a place to see its dead history. For instance, in the Outer Hebrides there are whole deserted villages which were razed to the ground by the English during the Clearances. Such stories give a setting authenticity and character.