Saturday 31 October 2009
The Hairy Hands
Halloween deserves a spooky story, and the spookiest I know is this one, of the Hairy Hands, which manifested themselves along a stretch of the Postbridge road on Dartmoor, near the Powder Mills. Before our children came along, my husband and I used to camp on the moor near Postbridge, up along the West Dart. It was a lovely spot to camp, not quite so much fun getting back to it across the moor after our evening meal and a few beers at the pub, as you could scarcely see where to put your feet, even with a torch.
Anyway, I always used to frighten myself silly that if I got up to answer a call of nature in the small hours, I might meet up with the Hairy Hands. I developed a long-distance bladder because my fear usually kept me in my sleeping bag!
The stretch of the B3212 where the Hairy Hands were "seen" is between Postbridge and Two Bridges. In the dreaming golden years before the start of World War I, a number of very strange incidents occured along this stretch of the road, mostly near to a farm known as Archerton. People on bicycles reported having the handlebars wrenched from their grip so they ended up in a heap in a ditch, and driven ponies went out of control with similar results. Worse still, a local man, Dr Helby from Princetown, was taking his two children for a ride in the sidecar of his motorbike and sidecar, and it veered out of control, killing the Dr but fortunately his children survived. Not long after, a similar accident happened when an Army officer was riding his motorbike along this same stretch of road. He was badly injured but lived to tell the tale - and what a tale he told - a pair of "large, muscular hairy hands closed over his own and forced him off the road."
This made front page news and soon the Daily Mail had reporters investigating the story, although a subsequent enquiry decided that the road had an adverse camber and so road repairs were carried out to remedy this.
The story had died down by the mid-1920s, when a lady who was parked at the side of this stretch of road in her caravan, saw a huge hairy hand crawling up the outside of her caravan window. Terrified, she made the sign of the cross and the hand disappeared . . .
The photograph at the top shows the first bit of intake land we would walk along to get to our campsite, which was beyond the furthest trees.