If You Go Down To The Woods Today…
A drive down to the woods sounds like an idyllic way to spend an Autumnal afternoon, but if you happen to find yourself in any of the many forests rumoured to be haunted by spirits and demons, your peaceful stroll may take a swift turn towards the sinister. In this article, we take a look at some of the most notorious haunted woods in the world and unearth the stories that make them so terrifying to those who pass through. Take a trip with us, if you dare…
Dering Wood, Pluckley – Kent, England
Just south of Pluckley, believed to be the most haunted village in England, are the (rather aptly named) Dering Woods. Tales of ghostly goings on abound in this woodland, which has been given the spine chilling nickname ‘The Screaming Woods’. The area earned this eerie title after nearby residents reported hearing blood curdling screams coming from within the trees late at night. It is believed the screams belong to a number of different ghosts who lost their way in the forest including a highwayman, captured and killed by angry villagers, and a suicidal soldier from the 1700’s.
Old House Woods – Virginia, USA
Said to be one of the most haunted places in the whole state, Old House Woods comprises 50 acres of dense pine forest and marshland. Paranormal activity is said to be rife in the region, with ghostly visions of headless dogs, witches, pirates, ships and cavaliers seen floating amongst the trees. Stories passed down through the generations also include rumours of buried treasure worth millions of dollars; it’s thought that pirates hid their bounty in the woods and set out to find more, but were killed before they could return. Many eager treasure hunters have also reportedly vanished in the woods while searching for the lost gold.
Hoia-Baciu Forest – Cluj-Napoca, Romania
When a forest has a nickname like ‘The Bermuda Triangle of Romania’ you know there’s going to be a few strange things afoot. Self-proclaimed on its official website as ‘the most haunted woods in the world’, it acquired the Bermuda Triangle comparison after a local shepherd suddenly disappeared in the forest, along with his 200 sheep. Scientists from around the world have visited the forest to investigate the multitude of paranormal sightings reported – such as orbs of light, UFO’s and apparitions – including visions of floating faces. Unexplained burn marks adorn some of the trees and visitors to the woods have experienced unusual bodily responses such as vomiting, rashes, burns and migraines. Many locals are afraid to go into the forest and believe if you enter you will never return.
Dow Hill Forest – Kurseong, India
Tourism has flourished in Dow Hill in recent years, as it has garnered the dubious reputation of being one of the most haunted places in India. Visitors have reported feeling a deep sense of sadness or depression in the forest and many people have committed suicide within its boundaries. Sightings of a ghost walking along the nearby road before slipping into the forest have long been reported and locals have supposedly heard noises coming from the nearby school, even when it is closed for 3 months of the year. But perhaps the most sinister apparition has to be the headless boy, who reportedly follows woodcutters working amongst the trees.
Dark Entry Forest, Dudley Town – Cornwall, Connecticut, USA
In the 18th century, Dudley Town and its nearby forest were part of a thriving community. It was a popular settlement for a long while, until residents started to experience some mysterious events. A series of unexplained murders, odd sightings, missing livestock and even mass suicides were reported in the years preceding. Locals said that demons in the woods commanded them to take their lives and this lead to many thinking the area was cursed. By the early 20th century, everyone in the town had either died or left, leaving the area a ‘ghost town’ in every sense of the phrase. Now known as ‘The Village of the Damned’ the place is said to be eerily quiet, with an increasingly sparse population of wildlife and sightings of lights, orbs and bizarre sounds still experienced by those who go walking in the woods.
Wychwood Forest, Oxford – England
You might think the sound of hooves in a forest would be completely normal…some riders out for an afternoon gallop, perhaps? Not so in Wychwood Forest, where the sound of thundering hooves has been heard with no evidence of any animals in the vicinity. Visitors have also experienced the sensation of hands reaching out to touch their shoulders while walking through this creepy woodland in Oxfordshire. But Wychwood is also home to a rather aristocratic ghost known as Amy Robsart. In life, she was married to the Earl of Leicester and after her death her ghostly apparition confronted her husband while he was out hunting in the woods and proclaimed he would join her in the afterlife in 10 days time. He soon fell ill and died within 10 days. It’s believed anyone who meets Amy in the woods will suffer a similar fate.
Aokigahara Forest – Mt. Fuji, Japan
Aokigahara Forest is also known as the Sea of Trees, but has also acquired the darker nicknames of Death- or Suicide Forest. Reported to be one of the world’s most popular suicide locations, an annual search of the area sees many bodies recovered from hangings in the trees. Because of the high number of suicides here, spiritualists have suggested the trees are full of dark energy and it’s thought the ghosts that remain are in purgatory. It’s not just the recent suicides that add to the dark history. Local legend suggests that, in poorer times, nearby villagers would bring their infirm or elderly relatives to the woods to die. Unable to feed them, they would be left to starve to death in the woods and their anguished cries would be muffled by the dense undergrowth. Visitors to the forest report that their suffering can still be heard on the winds that pass through the trees.
Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico
Walking in the woods can be an unsettling experience, even at the best of times – even a slight rustling of branches and a few snapping twigs can set your nerves on edge. Add in some creepy dolls hanging from the surrounding trees and you’ve got the beginnings of a perfect horror movie. The trees on Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls) were ‘decorated’ with hundreds of dolls by the island’s sole inhabitant, Don Julian Santana, when he spent 40 years stringing the dolls up after finding one floating next to the body of a dead girl in one of the island’s canals. He allegedly believed the forest was haunted by the little girl and hung the dolls to make the girl’s ghost happy. Santana died in 2001 by drowning in the same canal. Locals believe the dolls are evil and inhabited by tortured spirits.
Devil’s Tramping Ground – North Carolina, USA
Not all haunted woods are host to ghostly apparitions; some are disturbed by something possibly much, much darker. The Devil’s Tramping Ground in North Carolina is just such an example. In the woods near Harper’s Crossroads lies a 40ft circle of barren land surrounded by lush woodland. Nothing will grow within the circle and it’s said anything left within the boundary will have been moved outside by dawn. The story has been passed down through local generations since the 18th century and scientists haven’t been able to offer an explanation as to why the land remains bare.
Robinson Woods, Illinois – Chicago, USA
Deep in Robinson Woods is the burial place of the Robinson family, whose head, Andrew Robinson (born Chee-chee-pin-quay), was the chief of the Pottawatomies tribe in Ottawa. The woods have a dark history associated with this unfortunate family after their home burnt down in the 50’s and not long after, a grisly triple murder was discovered at the edge of the woods. It remained unsolved for 40 years which added to the eerie atmosphere in the forest. Since then, strange events have been experienced by visitors to the woodland. Orbs of light, said to be the spirits of the Robinson family, appear in the night. Figures resembling Native American’s, again rumoured to be Robinson’s family, have reportedly been seen, along with the sound of beating drums and the pungent smell of flowers – even in winter when the forests have nothing in bloom.