Spooky trails and ‘tails’: Haunted woods and forests to walk your dog… if you dare!

Spine tingling
Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

Looking to spook yourself (and your pooch) silly this Halloween? Head out on a ghost hunt to one of our wicked woods for a spine tingling thrill. With creaky branches, haunting mists and utter darkness, you’re sure to find some spooky surprises in the woods on 31 October.

Creepy Crinan Wood, Scotland.

Duntrune Castle lies just over the loch from Crinan Wood and is said to be haunted by a handless piper. During the English Civil War the castle was taken and the piper was the only man spared. The piper’s clan were about to launch a counter siege on the castle when they heard a tune coming from the castle called the Pibroch or the The Piper’s Warning. The piper had recognised their boat and was warning them to stay away. The piper’s captors quickly worked out what had happened and cut off his hands as a punishment, he died from his wounds.

During the 1880s two workmen at the castle found a shallow grave containing a skeleton that was missing both its hands. It is said that you can still hear the tune of the Pibroch drifting across the Loch today.

Bloodthirsty Bisham Woods, Berkshire.

At over 500 years old these woods once made up part of the Bisham Estate. Bisham Abbey still stands just across the road and is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Hoby. Lady Hoby’s son William was not a quick learner and frustrated by his slow pace, one day she beat him and locked him in the Abbey’s tower room before galloping off into Bisham Woods. Several days later the boy was found dead.

Many say that Lady Hoby’s ghost can be seen wandering through the abbey desperately trying to rub the blood stains from her hands.

Moaning Miltonrigg Woods, Cumbria.

If you venture far enough into Miltonrigg Woods you’ll stumble across Naworth level crossing. A lonely lane crosses the tracks next to a single house in this dark, dense part of the wood. In the early 1900s a passenger train collided with a motor coach on the crossing and nine people were killed.

Workers on the railway have reported hearing the cries of two young children coming from the site of the crash.

Awful Archers Wood, Cambridgeshire.

Archers Wood houses the remains of a medieval manor on the edge of the A1. Legend has it that the wood was once used as a hideout for highway men waiting to attack travellers as they made their way along the Great North Road. It is told that Archers Wood received its name because it was cut back just beyond a bow shot, to stop the would-be robbers’ arrows reaching the road.

Ghostly Glen Finglas, Scotland.

Part of the Great Trossachs Forest, Glen Finglas links Brig O’Turk to the small village of Balquhidder via a mysterious moorland route. The churchyard at Balquhidder contains the grave of Rob Roy and a stand of conifers near to the village is said to be haunted by a ghostly huntsman. The surrounding misty moorland seems to hold shadowy secrets in its mountainous crevices.

Cackling Coed Felinrhyd, Wales.

Coed Felinrhyd features in a collection of ancient Welsh mythological tales called the Mabinogion. The legend tells us that the north and south were at war and that two men met at Coed Felinrhyd to settle the outcome in a fight to the death. Pryderi, the King of Dyfed, battled Gwydion, the nephew of the King of Gwynedd, and was slain. Pryderi’s body was reputedly buried in the wood in an unmarked grave.

Bewitched Bishops Knoll, Bristol.

Hiding underneath the twisted ivy and laurel at Bishops Knoll are the remains of ornamental gardens once attached to Bishops Knoll. This mansion house became a hospital during the First World War offering beds to wounded Australian soldiers during the conflict. The mansion contained 100 beds, plus an operating theatre and convalescent rooms. While nothing remains today, the ghostly outlines of the walled gardens remind us of its part in history.

And in the USA…

Lost Dog Trailhead - El Paso, Texas.

This is one among several haunted hiking trails in Texas. As the name suggests, there have been reports of a shadowy, transparent dog figure wandering the trail. Some hikers have even heard barking noises despite there being no dogs around. If your dog is brave enough, this offers one of the only chances they will get to encounter a ghost of their own species.

This is a very popular hiking location for dog owners, but it shouldn’t be attempted by beginners. Dogs should be kept on a leash, as the rocky cliffs have dangerous dips. There are also no signs marking the way and a GPS signal is hard to find, so good map reading skills are essential. With great views of the Franklin Mountains, this is a beautiful and popular hiking location. Head out on weekdays when it’s quieter if you want to experience the eerie presence of supernatural beings.

(Article source: Various)

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