By Ben Gelblum
Cannock Chase, a 78 kilometre square Area Of Outstanding Beauty in the heart of the Midlands, has been thrust into the headlines this autumn with a spate of ghost sightings. The ancient royal hunting ground has long had all manner of sinister supernatural sightings. Recently, the tabloids have been full of stories of an apparition Staffordshire locals call the “Black Eyed Child.”
Families on woodland walks though the Birches Valley area of Cannock Chase have reported coming across a young child with her hands over her face as if she’s playing hide-and-seek. When approached, the girl apparently drops her hands and opens her eyes to reveal eyes with no white, “black as coal,” before disappearing.
And to make matters even spookier, the macabre apparitions have coincided with a surge in reports of UFO’s. The Daily Star reported a mother and two daughters who “lost four hours of time at the ghoul hotspot – a classic symptom of alleged alien abduction.” According to the chilling report , “the abducted mum found “October 27” written on her hand – sparking fears a dreadful incident will take place on that date.”
So… I did what any responsible parent would do… And took the kids to Cannock Chase on a TLE Travel press jaunt.
Birches Valley, home to the “Black Eyed Girl,” and aliens, is also home of the Gruffalo Child Trail until February 28, the Route To Health Sculpture Trail , and best of all Go Ape – treetop high-jinks and Segways to make a fast getaway on.
The taxi driver from Rugeley put the ghosts and alien encounters down to what people might have been smoking. But, he added, Cannock Chase has also recently been visited by a Werewolf and a pair of unexplained big cats. Cannock Chase’s deer, others confirmed, had been found attacked by a predator far too big to be a fox.
Reports of wild cats have been rife in the Midland woodlands, ever since the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 1976 imposed stringent conditions on anybody keeping predatory big cats as pets. According to urban legend, owners released them into the wild rather than have them put down.
The scariest it got on our visit to Cannock Chase was finding out if the Junior zip wire Rocky, 12, and Woody, 8, would take my (generous) adult weight. The adult Go Ape courses have zip wires that go up to 260 metres through the tree tops, with a 18mph landing speed. And there’s no better way to enjoy the stunning Staffordshire woodland than looking like a bell-end balanced on an off-road Segway.
By the time we’d finished exploring Cannock Chase, we’d learned all about other spooky goings-on, like the reservoir which contains a submerged village and the ghost of a girl that drowned. All kinds of porkies about the Pig-man of Cannock Chase, half-man, half-swine, spotted trotting across the heathland since the 1940’s, his terrifying squeals echoing across the chase at dusk. UFO fly-bys. And Castle Ring, the spooky Iron Age Hill Fort where satanic rituals are said to have sparked off the chilling supernatural legends across the forests and heaths of Cannock Chase.
For more about Cannock Chase: http://www.visitcannockchase.co.uk/
For more about Go Ape: http://goape.co.uk/days-out/cannock
For more about spooky occurrences on Cannock Chase: read UFO’s Werewolves & The Pig-Man: Exposing England’s Strangest Location – Cannock Chase by Lee Brickley