“Don’t be afraid of the dead, be afraid of the living”, I have heard that saying before but I didn’t realise how true it was until a recent Ghost Hunt Outing. This isn’t a normal activity for me, in fact it was a first, my friend purchased some tickets to visit Epping Forest for a night walk on an organised guided ghost tour. I was really excited and didn’t know what to expect. The fact that I was staying up and being outside past midnight was thrilling enough to be fair.
On the Ghost Walk night, we all met outside the large pub at the Epping Forest entrance. We found a parking space amongst other cars that were sitting in the carpark, with steamed up windows and low thumping music. We considered briefly that we might have just walked into a local underground dogging meeting place so hastily made our way to where we were told to meet our guide.
Luckily we could see him in his yellow, high viz jacket, through the weed smoke that seemed to be thick in the atmosphere, god only knows where it was coming from but the air was full of the stink of drugs! Clearly, nothing to do with our tour guide but I started to “feel’ that the energy around this place was somewhat “lower” than I am accustomed to these days.
Anyhow, after some instruction from our guide Tom, who informed us that he is a medium himself, we headed into the forest for our first story. The format was planned out for us, we were to walk to the different spots of the forest where myth, legend, history and fact told us about different ghost sightings. I was really excited about this and at that point, not at all scared. What terrified the hell out of me was the massive spiders lurking on hanging webs on low branches and the mud in the forest (did not think this through on booking!).
The very first fable started with Tom telling us about the ghost of Boudica who has been seen on several occasions roaming through the patch of green we were looking at and walking into the forest with her long cape flapping behind her. I really started getting into this story when our attention was taken away suddenly from it to a small black car that was very slowly creeping along the road beside us. As it passed us, the window wound down and we heard a guy shout out (quite aggressively) “What are you doing?” in a deep, North London accent. Tom immediately sighed and shouted, “None of your business, drive on please” and proceeded to wave his massive flashlight in this guy’s face. Before I had time to mentally process that that action was not a good idea the guy shouted “What the f@*k are you doing man? I will get out and cut you!!!”.
Feeling my breath quicken, Tom seemed unfazed and said casually “Yes, yes, move along……”. Luckily, the car speed of with skidding wheels.
Tom apologised to us and said that this was normal. That, unfortunately, Epping Forest attracts some interesting characters and he gets some form of aggressive behaviour on almost every guided tour, he has only had to call the police once though.
Suddenly, any talk of ghosts meant nothing compared to what I was now experiencing internally. My anxiety was on overdrive. I have a real fear of human violence and it appeared to be right within my grasp now “cut you up”?? Tom didn’t seem to care a hoot and insisted that the guy in the car was gone and we should move on.
So we did, we walked deeper into the forest and I was relieved to be away from the road. As we reached our next stopping point (a bank next to a very swampy lake, in pitch black, god only knows how we didn’t fall in) I muttered to my friend that I’m now very anxious about the nutter in the car. She reassured me we would be fine.
I managed to forget about him when Tom asked us how we felt standing next to the green bog. Bearing in mind there was around twenty of us on this tour, it was deathly quiet in this spot of the forest. The moonlight managed to allow a bit of light onto the lake. I felt so sad. The lake reminded me of death, of peoples death.
“This lake is a suicide spot. There have been over fifteen reported suicides here over the past one hundred years”. Oh. How awful. I couldn’t wait to walk away.
Eventually, we did, we walked further and further and more and more tales were explained to us, some that made me feel very emotional (what was I thinking of booking this up?). But really, that was all ok because compared to the terrorising we were experiencing first hand with the living, the dead where nothing to be afraid of. That guy in the car, he decided to come back and he wasn’t alone. He kept driving past at every opportunity and circling our party like a fox around a chicken coup. Tom insisted that we not worry and that if worse comes to the worst he could call the police as he has a “hotline” to the local constabulary. It was so absurd I was starting to wonder if it was part of the tour?
We eventually entered a wide open space, next to a road. It felt like it was the middle of nowhere. I can’t stress to you how bad my anxiety was at this point, because of the guy in the car. I had a VERY bad feeling about his energy. I was so close to calling my husband and begging him to pick me up, even though I had no idea where we were in the forest and it was almost 1am.
When we reached the middle of the field, we stood around Tom whilst he told the next story. I so wanted to listen and enjoy it, but I couldn’t because I was so afraid of this guy coming back. And just like that, I pulled in that fear like a magnet and we saw the forbidding headlights and heard the slow tyres turning on the road leading up to us, us at a dead end, like a scene from a horror movie. I grabbed my friends arm and squeezed hard “we are leaving!” I said in a loud whisper, frantically looking for where we could run to hide from this maniac.
Everyone in our group was now voicing their concern and when the car stopped and this guy got out, I turned to Tom “Better call that hotline now ah Tom, like NOW!” I demanded. Tom huffed and pulled out his mobile phone, then we heard the scary guy shouting out “I’m a ghost, a ghost, a ghost, ahhhhhhh” like some over dramatic female drama teacher. Everyone started laughing (through fear?) and we realised that this guy was nuts, but probably not a cold-blooded killer.
Thankfully, that was the last we heard of him and Tom didn’t have to call the police. So the second half of the tour I could finally relax and enjoy.
Toward the end, we walked to Hang Mans Hill. Legend has it that this is where all the criminals back in the dark ages used to be killed and literally “hung out to dry” in front of everyone. It’s also the place where if you sit in your car and release the hand brake on a certain hill, an optical illusion makes it look like your car is rolling uphill. It was close to this spot that we did the séance.
I have never done a séance before. We all stood around in a circle and held hands (sweaty hands with a male stranger in the middle of a forest, don’t tell me I don’t know how to live). Tom, being the medium, told us to close our eyes whilst he asked the spirits of the forest to come forward and do different things, like tap our shoulders and push us forwards. Now, I have to stress here that Tom did not know that I and my party of friends were all mediums ourselves. I don’t actually feel that anything spectacular happened but I DID feel a weight pulling on my arm. I was in what I felt like was a deep meditation and after the séance which lasted I reckon around twenty minutes, Tom came up to me in front of the group and said that my energy felt very interesting, very calm, very still (“that will be the Reiki energy!” I said to myself with an inside smile).
It was time for the very last walk for the last account of the night. We walked deeper still into the forest and approached a massive ditch. We stood around the ditch, in a half semi-circle with our torches pointing to the centre. It looked very low down.
“Where is my volunteer?” shouted Tom. Oh darn it, I remembered that Tom had chosen me at the beginning of the tour to be his volunteer. Not wanting to point out that volunteering doesn’t actually work that way, I raised my hand and said it was me.
“Come forward Tanya and stand in the ditch”. What?! I didn’t want to seem like a spoil sport but I really didn’t fancy doing this! One minute later I was standing in that ditch, with nineteen faces looking down on me, all shining their torches on my face. I remembered a time back in my youth on the dance floor when I would have lapped up this feeling. Not tonight. I was in my very own living Blair Witch Project.
Tom, in a very serious tone, told me to close my eyes and take some deep breaths and to tell me exactly what I felt whilst standing in that ditch. So did exactly that, I forgot about being watched and just “felt”. This is what I experienced:
I felt so afraid and so so sad. I felt this was a female sadness. I was so scared, scared for my life, I wanted to drop to my knees and protect my head, then I saw a rope hanging from a tree, then I realised that I had to protect my unborn baby.
“What did you feel, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t feel or see anything, we are not all mediums here” said Tom with a kind smile.
I recited it all back to him. He raised an eyebrow and smiled at me then looked at the group.
“Well this is very interesting, very interesting indeed. Because here, in this very ditch is where a young woman was chased into by her husband, where he beat her and killed her then hung her from the tree branches, after pulling her down and digging and placing her in a shallow grave, right on the spot where Tanya is standing. This was in the 1970s. Well done Tanya, that’s really good”.
I shuddered. That poor woman. I didn’t mention the unborn child bit to Tom and the others, I just didn’t feel it appropriate.
After we walked back to the car, we thanked Tom for an “interesting night”. By the time we reached our car, all the other cars (not part of our group) had gone. They had left rubbish all over the place, it looked awful. Epping Forest, the place of natural beauty during the day, treated with utter disrespect during the witching hours, attracting the lowest forms of energies, drug dealers, hitman, murderers, rapists….they all go there. Why? Because it is a forest and is out of the way? I don’t think its that. I think the forest holds so much dark energy that goes back centuries, all that history etched in the tree bark, that it attracts certain vibrations, the dark energies that walk this Earth as humans today.
As we drove away, I vowed I would never go back to the Forest when the moon was out. I would save it for sunny day walks with me and my dog.
Until next time,