From werewolves to disembodied screams and Black Eyed Children; exploring the terrifying true tales of Cannock Chase, the UK’s most haunted forest!
Cannock Chase Woods, situated in the county of Staffordshire, England, is a destination that has been on my bucket list for about two years now, ever since it became the object of mass press hysteria back in 2014.
However, while in my minds eye I may envision one day exploring the eerie but beautiful expanse of its sprawling woodlands, in reality, part of me suspects that I may actually be too scared to ever do so in reality.
The urban legends surrounding Cannock Chase are simply too crazy.
It’s reputation as one of the spookiest and most haunted forests in the world is nothing if not well-deserved.
So just what is so frightening about Cannock Chase? Read on to find out.
The reputation of Cannock Chase as a UK paranormal hotspot have been around for a number of decades, and the supposed phenomena is as various as it is creepy.
The area is a well acknowledged UFO hotspot, and was officially named as such in a declassified Ministry of Defence document revealed in 2008.
Stories abound from ramblers and walkers of big cat sightings, a supposed hell-hound that is said to prowl the area, as well reports of a werewolf, a Bigfoot, and, most bizarrely of all, a ‘Pig-man’ – a human/pig hybrid, stories of which first began circulation during the second world war.
While the presence of a wild big-cat is certainly not out of the realm of possibility, and hell-hounds are a fairly common figure in British ghost-lore, the latter three do sound incredibly outlandish, resembling the stuff of outdated legend.
Indeed, many people now believe that the tales of The Pig-Man of Cannock Chase were deliberately created by the local military, with the purpose of scaring off nosy locals from the POW and military training camps that were stationed in the woods at that time.
While you would probably suppose such urban myths have died out in recent decades, werewolf and Pigman sightings in Cannock Chase continue to be ongoing – the most recent report coming in just ten years ago.
And while not exactly – or at least not provably – paranormal, there is one incredibly chilling and disturbing story that some have linked to the reported werewolf sightings.
Back in April 1975, in the nearby town of Eccleshall, there are reports of the tragic and disturbing case of a 17-year-old boy, who committed suicide following a Ouija board session, where it is claimed he promised his soul to the devil in return for being granted the ability to become a werewolf.
Having phoned a friend in a panic to tell him that he was ‘transforming’, the boy was shortly after found dead, from what a coroner ruled to be self-inflicted stab wounds.
Is this tragic and disturbing case linked to the werewolf sightings in Cannock Chase? Probably not.
But the fact that this incident occurred at the exact same time werewolf sightings first began to be reported in Cannock Chase makes for a very unsettling co-incidence, which is rather hard to ignore.
In addition to the rumours of cryptids and extraterrestrials, the woods are certainly not short of ghosts stories either.
There are frequent reports of unexplained screams being heard emanating from deep within the forest, and the ghost of a woman has also been reported on a number of occasions.
However, the most terrifying and famous ghoul terrorising the woods has got to be, indisputably, The Black Eyed Child Of Cannock Chase.
Black Eyed Children (or BEKs as they are sometimes known in paranormal circles) have become something of a cult legend over the last couple of decades, after disturbing accounts of them first began circling the internet back in the 1990’s.
The term is used to describe entities that appear in the form of young (or occasionally adolescent) children with pale skin, strange, expressionless faces and entirely black eyes.
While the stories of Black Eyed Children originally began life as urban legends online, stories of encounters with these other-worldly children have rapidly increased over the last decade, with reports flooding in from all over the world.
Cannock Chases very own Black Eyed Child made her first appearance back in the 1980’s, to a young woman who was out walking on the Chase, and witnessed a girl of around 7 years, who was running in the opposite direction and shouting ‘Help Mummy, Help!’.
Concerned, the young woman chased after the girl until she reached a dense part of the woodland, where the girl abruptly turned, looked her directly in the eye, then vanished in to the bushes.
The child was not to be sighted again for another 30 years, but was seen once again in 2013 by a mother and child in a part of the Cannock Chase known as Birches Valley. The mother described her experience as thus:
”Around 2 months ago my daughter and I were walking through Birches Valley (an area well known for it’s spectral sightings) when we heard the screams of a young child. I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, but they definitely seemed in distress and sounded very close to us, so we instantly started running towards the noise.
This terrifying encounter was to be repeated a year later by paranormal researcher Lee Brickley, who has been researching and documenting the reports regarding paranormal sightings in Cannock Chase for a number of years now.
While out walking their dog, he and his wife he chanced upon a child whose demeanor and appearance eerily echoed descriptions from the previous reports, and immediately marked it out as something distinctly not human. He recalls:
”…to our amazement, a child, no taller than one meter in height appeared as if out of nowhere further up the path in front of us. We stopped dead in our tracks after noticing her eyes had no colour. Her head was tilted to the side in much the same way it would appear if she had been hung. She stared at us for around five minutes before running away into a densely grouped area of trees.”
In addition to these frightening eye witness testimonies, this terrifying apparition has also been reported to have been caught on camera, not just once, not twice, but on at least four occasions.
In August 2014, while photographing her two children, a mother claims to have caught inadvertently caught the image of a young girl with black eyes in Victorian clothing, standing a short distance from her sons, and holding a toy hoop.
The following year a quadcopter drone captured footage of a mysterious, eerie figure lurking at the edge of the woodland, and the brief image of a glowing figure was also caught wandering through the woods by a team of ghost hunters during an investigation.
The most curious, and most credible ‘images’ of the infamous ghoul however has probably got to be the photo taken by a local medium, who managed to capture the grainy image of a young girl crouched on the forest floor.
The medium, 57 year old Christine Hamlett, claims that from spiritual communications with the entity she has come to believe the apparition is a victim of the diphtheria epidemic that swept the UK during the Victorian era, a disease that was known to leave its victims with sunken, hollow eyes.
Which may go some way to explain the horrifying appearance which has made the specter such an object of terror to those unlucky enough to chance upon it.
However, while this theory does sound fairly plausible, one of the strongest theories out there remains that these frightening apparitions are linked to a spate of shocking child killings known as the Cannock Chase Murders that occurred in the late 1960’s.
From 1966 to 1967 pedophile Raymond Morris, who lived and worked in the local area, murdered 3 young girls aged from 5 to 7 years old; kidnapping them, assaulting them and strangling them, before abandoning their bodies in secluded areas.
Following a lengthy manhunt – the biggest in UK history at the time – Morris was caught, convicted and jailed for life for his horrendous crimes, and died in prison in 2014.
It’s not surprising therefore that many locals link the frightening sightings to these tragic and horrific killings.
Indeed the spectre is typically described as appearing very young; coinciding with the age range of the young murder victims.
It has also got to be said that such an terrible, frightening appearance would seem fitting for a spirit that went through such unimaginably horrendous events during their last living moments.
But then on the other hand, there are many who speculate that this entity is not – and never was – human to begin with.
There is a large number who believe that the Black Eyed Child of Cannock Chase is in fact demonic in nature – intent on causing fear, danger, and even harm to those who are unfortunate enough to encounter it.
So all these conflicting theories poses the 100 dollar question; just what is the Black Eyed Child of Cannock Chase? Is this the pitiful soul of a sickly child, a tragic murder victim still reaching out for help, or is it something even darker?
As for myself, I’m in the undecided camp. All I can say for certain is that I have no wish to encounter it for myself.
So until the day where I actually manage to pluck up the courage to investigate Cannock Chase for myself, I will simply sate my curiosity from afar, by continuing to follow the steady stream of stories and reports from braver souls who dare to venture in to one of the most notoriously haunted locations in the UK.
So what do you think of the paranormal stories of Cannock Chase? Have you been brave enough to visit Cannock Chase Woods? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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