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Paranormal encounters in Britain’s forests


Walking through woodland can be relaxing and enchanting. But as retired clinical psychologist Dr Peter McCue points out, Britain’s woods and forests sometimes play host to strange phenomena.

For example, in November 1979, a 61-year-old forestry worker called Robert Taylor encountered what he later described as a ‘spaceship’. It was hovering above the ground in a clearing in Dechmont Wood, on the northern fringe of Livingston, a new town in West Lothian, Scotland. Two smaller objects, resembling war-time naval mines, rolled towards Taylor and attached themselves to his trousers. Shortly after, he lost consciousness. He ‘came to’ some 20 minutes later, lying on the ground, feeling unwell. Around the time of this incident, there were UFO sightings in the locality, although it’s unclear whether they were directly connected with what Taylor experienced. 

Some wooded areas have generated multiple reports of strange incidents. For example, people driving over Cannock Chase in Staffordshire have allegedly encountered bigfoot-like figures, and walkers there claim to have seen ghostly Roman soldiers. Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk is best-known for a series of UFO sightings by US air force personnel at the end of 1980. But visitors to the forest continue to experience odd phenomena there, such as hot or warm stones falling down near them.

In his discussion of numerous reports of bizarre phenomena in our woods, McCue weighs the evidence judiciously, recognising that some of the stories could be mischievous inventions. He refers, for example, to a claim that the bodies of nine adults and 11 children were found, in mysterious circumstances, in Dering Wood, Kent, in 1948. But he explains that the tale is clearly a fabrication. However, in respect of some of the other reports, he inclines to the view that paranormal phenomena truly occurred, and he speculates on what may have been behind them.

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