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The Hairy Hands of Dartmoor

As this is our last Folklore Friday for this year we thought we would bring you the tale of the Hairy Hands of Dartmoor. This interesting tale has been shared many times over the years and always sends a chill down the spine. Our story takes us to Postbridge along the B3212 where drivers report seeing a pair of disembodied hands. You might be forgiven for thinking that they are seen lying on the side of the road. This would be bad enough. But no they appear in the car of the motorists as they are travelling the road and grab at their steering wheel forcing them off the road. Where many have reported seeing the hands others have described them as an invisible force that fights them for control of their vehicle. It’s not just cars that these hands want to control, they have also grabbed at the handlebars of motorcycles too.

This strange phenomenon started to happen around 1910 with motorists and cyclists reported unusual incidents and accidents along the stretch of road between Postbridge and Two Bridges. Many reported that something had taken control of their steering wheel wrenching it violently out of their control making the car swerve erratically so much so it left the road and often ended up in a ditch or on the verge. These strange occurrences were frequent and intriguing but not life threatening until sadly in June 1921 the local medical officer for Dartmoor Prison was killed when his motorcycle and sidecar ran off the road. His two young daughters who had been in the sidecar miraculously survived. Dr Helby’s daughters reported seeing their father wrestling furiously with the controls while shouting at them to jump off the bike. In August 1921 an army Captain reported a similar tale. A pair of invisible hands had taken hold of him and forced his motorcycle off the road.

Several weeks later another incident occurred this time a coach driver lost control, several passengers were injured as they were thrown out of their seats. The incredulous stories were soon picked up by the newspapers in London and were reported nationwide.

Interestingly not all of the stories of the hands involve moving vehicles. In 1942 a couple camping on the moor reported seeing a hairy disembodied hand attempting to gain access to their caravan. The woman said that after making the sign of the cross and screaming, the hand had retreated leaving them shook up and ready to go home. Amazingly the last sighting of the hairy hands was as recent as 2008.

Strange occurrences of this type have also been reported on some of Herefordshire’s roads. On a stretch of the A465 near Bromyard in Herefordshire there have been a spate of accidents that have left locals thinking that a ghost is responsible. The ghost is believed to be that of a road accident victim from more than 60 years ago. As in the Dartmoor tale motorists have reported losing control of their steering or having their steering wheels pulled from their hands. Similar occurrences have been reported on a stretch of road near Tarrington too, where copious vehicles have left the road and crashed into the same wall. All very spooky!

So whatever you do this festive season just keep an eye out for those hairy hands and keep a tight grip on your steering wheel!

These stories are curated from many sources and retold in our fun ESL style, in the true spirit of Folklore.

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