Friday, 8 March 2013

Let Me Tell You A Story...


I don’t know about where you are, but here, it has been awful weather recently.

I would put a picture up, but to be honest, the fog is so thick I may as well just put a grey box on the screen. So sorry about the lack of visuals here today!

Tuesday was pretty good, but since Wednesday it’s slowly deteriorated, and Thursday morning was thick, thick fog for my entire drive to work. It was still so bad by the time I came to travel home, that I chose to drive a different way.

There’s nothing quite like Dartmoor fog, particularly around Princetown, which is a small village I have to drive through on my way to and from work. You may have heard of Princetown actually- there’s a prison there, and it’s featured in Arthur Conan-Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. The village is the first high point off the Atlantic, which means that all of the rain clouds which have gathered over the ocean roll in and settle over the village. Generally speaking, it’s pretty awful weather up there- making it a good, depressing place for a prison, actually.

But really what put me off (sort joking. But not really) is the myth of the Hairy Hand of Dartmoor.

This is the perfect story for a dark and stormy night like tonight. So grab a big mug of tea and settle down while I weave you a yarn…

Image from here. Does this feel like Halloween to anyone else?!

As in all good stories, our tale starts on a dark and foggy winter’s evening in Devon. Picture this- the night is dark much earlier than you would expect for the time of year, and the fog had rolled in as is common in these parts, and is so thick that you can barely see more than five feet in front of you. Not the sort of evening you want to be driving around, but, as the story goes, a young couple, not local to the area, were out for a drive on the road between Princetown and Postbridge (home of the highest pub on Dartmoor, the Warren House Inn).
The young man was driving the car, and his young wife was map reading as best she could in the low light. Having been for a meal at the aforementioned Warren House Inn, they were making their way back to The Two Bridges, a hotel on Dartmoor, and although the road is fairly straightforward between these two locations, they were struggling in the terrible conditions.  Suddenly, the car swerved and the woman shrieked at her husband, terrified at the sudden jolt. He grabbed the wheel more tightly, his knuckles turning white at the effort of keeping the car steady, as an unseen force tried to steer the car off the road. But then, a pair of ghostly, hairy hands appeared on the wheel and again, forced the car to swerve towards the edge of the narrow road. In a panic, the young woman made the sign of the cross, and the car began to come back under control, as the hands melted away.
As they returned to the hotel, they headed straight to the bar, where they were keen to recount their tale to the few patrons still out of bed. The barman nodded sagely, telling them of previous patrons who had not been so fortunate as they had been, and who had sadly lost their lives driving along the very same stretch of road.
It isn’t known who the hands belong to. Some stories say they belonged to an inmate of the Prison, whose hands were cut off for stealing from another prisoner. Others say they belong to a man who genuinely lost control of his vehicle when driving along the admittedly windy lanes and whose hands were severed in the accident.

Whatever the story, I just try to avoid that road on nights like tonight, even if they most likely come from grockels (read: tourists) not knowing how to drive along the windy moorland roads.

Do you have any local myths and legends? I love hearing these sorts of stories!

4 comments:

  1. That's very creepy! We have a lot of ghost stories about the area I live in, it used to be a hospital in the 1800-early 1900s and there's a ghost affectionately named 'matron' who stalks my mum and dad's house next-door!

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    1. Oooh that is creepy! I'm not sure how I'd feel about a house near me actually being stalked by a ghost haha! x

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  2. I love local legends like this! Where I'm from there's quite a few about a big black cat thats supposed to haunt one of the old backroads. There's been quite a few 'weird' accidents around that way so I tend to avoid it when I'm driving on my own!
    Vic @ Frankly Vic

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    1. Oh god I would too! That's properly creepy. x

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