Woodland takes on a different shape at night: well trodden paths become impassable and bramble ridden, trees groan in the wind, their leaves whispering, and twigs snap in the darkness. Maybe that noise was just an innocent little rabbit hopping around the dry woodland floor… or could it be one of those escaped pumas you keep hearing about? If it is Pembrey Woods (pictured -image source Forestwonderz.com)
A darkened forest steeped in history is a very fertile place for the imagination indeed, and so it's no surprise that these places are hot locations for a variety of mysterious events.
One of the most creative and disturbing entities to allegedly roam our woods is an extremely tall, faceless, multi-limbed child snatcher. In today's popular culture, it is known as The Slender Man: a modern internet myth, arguably more fakelore than folklore, but this fictional creature does share many characteristics with some genuine cultural folklore beings - what's most unsettling is that the same description of this entity is shared all over the world. In Scotland it is known as Fear Dubh, a malevolent entity who haunts the forest paths by night, and in the North of England you may be unfortunate enough to come across the chilling Clutchbone, who's sightings and atrocities would frequently follow a lightning storm - leading people to believe that the creature travelled from another dimension during violent electrical storms.
In South Wales, Carmarthanshire, you will find Pembrey Woods. To the locals it used to be known as the home of 'the little hatchet men of Pembrey'. These mischievous beings would use lanterns to lure passing ships to their doom in rock infested waters. The survivors would then be slaughtered by the little men, and their belongings were pillaged. There may no longer be any sightings of these murderous hobbit-like creatures anymore, but there are still many reports of ghostly visions spotted in and around the wood: especially towards the shore.
Although it's not just our own monsters and supernatural terrors we need to be wary of, what about beings from outer space? Yes, all around the world UFO sighting have featured heavily in our woodlands. Many people will recall a massive story in the UK which occurred one December in 1980, when a series of reports described unexplainable lights hovering above Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk. The location of the wood was right next to a US airbase, and when the servicemen entered the woods after witnessing odd lights in the sky, they came across an illuminated metallic object which floated off through the trees when approached; whilst this was all going on, the animals at a nearby farm were reported to have been in a frenzy.
Before we end, I'd just like to share a little tip. The next time you're in a wood, I recommend finding a comfortable spot off the beaten track - ideally when dusk falls - and just sit there silently for 15 minutes or so. Slowly and surely, as your mind quietens, you will feel part of the forest, and the wood could well start to come to life around you. You never know what you may see: a badger appearing to sharpen it's claws on a fallen tree, acrobatic squirrels leaping across the canopy, or you may catch sight of a tawny owl silently swooping overhead. But do keep an eye on the diminishing sunlight… and steer clear of gingerbread houses!
Explore the DM Woodland Collection featuring all our favourite woodland animals.
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In Greek mythology, Halcyone and Ceyx were lovers who incurred the wrath of the god Zeus by mocking him and his wife. Angered, Zeus killed Ceyx.