Posted by: Craig Woolheater on February 22nd, 2006
Nick Redfern sends in a guest Cryptomundo blog for the day.
As readers of Cryptomundo will be aware, a number of stories have surfaced in the British mainstream media in the last week or so, that focus on sightings of Bigfoot-like entities in the vicinity of an area of British forest called the Cannock Chase.
For many years, I have taken a particular interest in these reports because the Cannock Chase is only a handful of miles away from where I used to live in central England. And so when Craig Woolheater asked me if I would be interested in submitting a guest-post for Cryptomundo about these reports, I said I would be pleased to do so.
Cannock Chase has a rich history of weirdness: there have been numerous reports of big-cats having been seen there, and I have personally taken part in several searches for these still-elusive animals. Occasional sightings are made of wild boar; I’m aware of one sighting of a kangaroo or a wallaby in the woods; an alleged encounter with a wolf; and several reports that fall into the classic "ghostly black dog" category.
But the first account of a man-beast in the area dates from way back in 1879, when a creature described as being half-man and half-monkey was seen on a lonely stretch of road at the town of Ranton, which is situated only a few miles from where the Cannock Chase stands.
More than a hundred years later, specifically in 1995 a brief sighting was made by a woman named Jackie Houghton, who saw a huge and lumbering hair-covered creature in the early hours of the morning near the small, picturesque village of Slittingmill, which is situated in the heart of the Chase. Similarly, in 1998, the following account surfaced from another witness:
"It was a star filled night, clear, but dark and we were all in the car driving home, happily chatting and joking. Suddenly we all fell dead serious, the people in the back sat forward and we all pointed to the same shape. It was a tall man-like figure, sort of crouching forward. As we passed, it turned and looked straight at us. In my own words I would describe it as around six feet eight inches tall, legs thicker than two of mine, very strong looking and with a darkish, blacky [sic]-brown coat. I just could not explain it and I still get goose bumps thinking of it."
In December 2003, newspapers in the area gave much prominence to the story of a young man named Craig, who said he had seen a large ape-like creature near the town of Penkridge, which is very close to the Cannock Chase.
Then, in April 2004 Alec Williams was driving across the Chase late at night when he, too, was witness to a huge beast, easily seven feet in height, near the edge of the main road that links the towns of Cannock and Rugeley.
So what is going on? Do wild, Bigfoot-like entities really roam the woods of central England by night? The short answer is that I do not know.
There are those in the UK who believe the beasts to be utterly physical in nature and suggest that they are cunning, stealthy animals that have successfully avoided detection for millennia.
Other researchers consider the events to be somewhat paranormal in nature. And they base this, largely, on the fact that Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales combined) is only approximately the size of the state of Texas, and has a bustling population of sixty million.
The argument of those that favor a paranormal theory is that if sixty million people were tomorrow relocated to Texas, then try and imagine how such a creature could exist in the Lone Star State undetected for millennia with such a huge population.
It must be said, however, that the descriptions of the Cannock Chase creatures are very similar to those that surface with regularity in the United States. Plus, the locations are the same for the most part: namely, dense forests and woodlands. In other words, the British phenomena does eerily parallel the situation elsewhere.
The biggest problem, however, is the fact that research into such activity in Britain is often derided, and this makes researchers somewhat reluctant to investigate such claims for fear of losing credibility. In addition, witnesses are very reluctant to report their encounters. Therefore, investigations progress at very slow rate.
I mentioned that I do not have a full and complete answer to the mystery of the British man-beasts seen at the Cannock Chase woods (and at many other locations in the UK). But I do know one thing for certain: unless we investigate these cases fully and without bias or fear of ridicule, this aspect of British cryptozoology will continue to languish in some half-ignored, half-derided corner. Whatever is going on, we should make it a priority to find the answers.
Nick Redfern is actively researching reports of Bigfoot-like creatures seen in the UK. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.