Friday, October 29, 2021

If You Go Down to the Woods Today: Epping Forest

Photo by L Wall.
Epping Forest, Oct 2021
There's no better spot for a good ghost story than a deep, dark forest. Something about them just seems to invite tales of the paranormal. Perhaps it's a sense of the unknown, that anything could be waiting in those deep woods or the fear of straying from the path and getting lost. One thing's for sure, no matter how pretty they are, forests can be downright spooky. For this post, we're taking a look at Epping Forest. I won't lie, I love this pretty forest, especially this time of year when the leaves are changing. There's plenty of places to park and grab a cup of tea and lots of lovely long walks. Perfect for a family outing this Halloween weekend. The fact that it's haunted is an added bonus. So let me introduce you to Epping Forests most well-known spooks.

Dick Turpin
Dick Turpin is one of the UK's most legendary historical figures, a highwayman who's often portrayed as a dashing and romantic rogue when he was little more than a violent thug. Turpin, and the gang he was involved with, used the forest as cover for their various nefarious activities. This gang started off as poachers, possibly using the butchers that Turpin owned at the time to get rid of the animals they killed. After a while, they got greedy and turned to highway robbery. They didn't just limit themselves to coaches and lone travellers. They were happy to rob local farms and houses, taking great delight in torturing those inhabitants who would not comply with his wishes. Turpin wasn't just limited to Epping Forest, he and the gang were active over most of the London area. He eventually moved to Yorkshire, where he would end up being tried and hung for stealing horses, in 1739.
There are a lot of places in the country that lay claim to the spirit of Dick Turpin, but why return to Epping Forest in death? Perhaps it's because he felt safe there. While using Epping Forest as their hiding spot, Turpin and his friends seemed untouchable. It was leaving the London area that got him killed. The spirit believed to be him has been spotted a lot over the decades, usually dressed in his riding cloak and tri-corn hat. Sometimes this spirit is spotted loitering among the trees or on the forests older roads. Other times it has been seen riding a ghostly black steed. The problem is that so many people have died in Epping Forest over the century, we've no actual proof that this spirit is that of Dick Turpin, even though it resembles him.

Photo by L Wall.
Epping Forest, Oct 2021

Hangman's Hill
If the name of this location alone isn't enough to send a chill down your spine, then the strange phenomenon that takes place here will. Leave your car in neutral at the bottom of the hill at night, and you may find it rolling uphill all on its own. Waiting for you at the top? The tree that gives the hill its name is reputed to be a hanging tree where the men killed were innocent of their crimes. Some say the tree is pulling cars towards it with a phantom noose, hungry for more victims. However, the truth is just as fascinating; it's an optical illusion known as a Gravity Hill. Your car is rolling downhill, but the surrounding landscape is laid out in such a way that it makes it look and feel like you're going uphill. Don't feel disappointed though, there are is some sort of paranormal activity going on in the area. Blood-curdling screams have been heard echoing through the woods at night, and concerned listeners have been known to call the police about the sounds on occasion.

Be very careful if you try this out for yourself. Remember, this is a road and there may be other vehicles around who won't see your car in the dark or you if you get out to look around. 

Photo by L Wall.
Epping Forest, Oct 2021

The Suicide Pool
You won't find Epping Forests Suicide Pool on a map, and that may be for the best. Who knows, this tragic place may have even dried up and vanished if it ever existed at all. Since it seems nobody currently knows where it is or isn't telling if they do, we will never know for sure. What we do know is the story behind it, which began around 300 years ago with a pair of star-crossed lovers. Their relationship was forbidden, but they would meet as often as possible by a pool in the forest. When the girl's father found out, he waited there and killed her in a fit of rage. He threw her body into the water, and when the boy found her there, he walked into the pool and drowned himself in an attempt to reunite with her in death. After this, the pool turned dark, nothing would grow there and the bodies of animals soon started to turn up on its banks. If true, this could just be the result of the water being contaminated by the bodies being left to rot in it. The story doesn't end there. Allegedly the pool is haunted by an angry spirit that lures people into the water to drown them. Among its reported victims are a young servant named Emma and her infant child, and later an unnamed woman in 1887.
In  1959, a competition was held by Essex Countryside Magazine in an attempt to find out where the pool was. Why they wanted to know is unclear, some places should be left alone, and one lady who wrote to the magazine seems to agree. In her letter, she told the magazine that she knew exactly where the pool was but would never tell them its location. She explained that it was a dark and evil place, with an "atmosphere unpleasant beyond description."

Photo by L Wall.
Epping Forest, Oct 202

Many other spirits call these woods home. Shadowy figures dart between the trees, and strange sounds float on the breeze. A phantom carriage has been heard rattling along the roads, drawn by equally spectral horses, though it's usually heard and not seen. There have even been reports of Poltergeist activity, with people being pushed or knocked to the ground by an unseen assailant.
Sadly, I've yet to experience anything paranormal in the forest. The most frightening encounter I've had was a run-in with a low hanging spider, but I'm ever hopeful. If I ever have a personal ghost story from Epping Forest, you will be the first to hear about it. Until then, if any readers have any spooky stories from Epping Forest, and are willing to share their story with me and the other readers, why not leave a comment below? Or, alternatively, tag me in a Tweet

1 comment:

  1. Oh my ... this reading is perfect for Halloween!
    I hope you will find further information about this scary Epping Forest ...