Cracking twigs, branches catching in your hair, and creeping tendrils of mist swirling around your ankles ― there’s no doubt that woods can be spooky places sometimes. Feeling brave? Venture into the depths of these UK’s spookiest woods to uncover historical horrors and spine-chilling legends.
1 | Frith Wood, North East Derbyshire, England
In the early 19th century, the Greenlaw House, within walking distance of Frith Wood, was converted into barracks for French prisoners captured during the Napoleonic Wars. A woman supposedly fell in love with a prisoner, who was then beaten to death by her father and brother. She died shortly thereafter, possibly by her own hand. Her ghost returns to the site of her lover’s murder—some say she sobs, others say she runs frantically through the trees.
2 | Ballyboley Forest, Northern Ireland
The Ballyboley Forest in Northern Ireland is believed to be an ancient Druid site, where rituals and sacrifices had taken place. It is even possible to see the stone formations and trenches made back then. Frightening occurrences of unearthly sounds coming from the woods, sights of shadowy figures, and trees with bloodstains will make even the bravest adventurer wary of spending a night in there.
3 | Wychwood Forest, Oxfordshire, England
A hand reaching out to touch the shoulder of a solitary person. A horse-drawn cart carrying a couple with two sobbing children. These are the reports out of Wychwood Forest, once part of larger royal hunting grounds in Oxfordshire.
Most compelling is the case of Amy Robsart, the wife of the Earl of Leicester. She mysteriously died of a broken neck, confronted her husband as a ghost while he was hunting in Wychwood, and predicted he would join her in 10 days — which he did after falling ill. Anyone who meets her, it is said, will befall a similar and swift fate.
4 | Epping Forest, Essex-London, England
This ancient woodland was once a royal property and now is a great place for running, biking, and walk your dog. But, incredibly, this forest is also considered by many people as the most creepy of all haunted forests in England. One of the most notorious ghosts there is the spirit of Dick Turpin, a famous robber who used a cave in the woods as a hiding place.
Many poltergeist hunters and fans of the paranormal go to the Epping National Park, where the forest is located, to study, and sometimes to get in touch with some of its known ghosts.
5 | Dering (Screaming) Woods, Ashford, England
Pluckley holds the dubious title of the most haunted village in the UK in the Guinness Book of Records, but its adjacent forest, Dering Woods, also called Screaming Woods, grabs the attention of people (and tourists) with its reported cases of ear-splitting screams coming from the deeps of the forest. In 1948, a creepy case occurred there. Twenty dead bodies were found in the woods, eleven of them were children.
6 | Witches Wood, Lydford Gorge, Devon, England
Tucked away on the edge of Dartmoor, this ancient wooded gorge is awash with myths and mysteries. Follow the path to the Whitelady waterfall, named for the ghostly figure that is sometimes said to appear nearby. If that’s not scary enough, you can imagine that you’re back in the 17th century when a notorious outlaw band called the Gubbins made their home in the gorge. Just make sure they don’t steal your sheep.