...You had better be prepared to experience more than you bargained for. Especially if the woods in question are in the vicinity of the Kent village of Pluckley. Properly known as Dering Woods, this forest is more commonly known as the Screaming Woods – and for very good reason.
The area itself is situated just south of England’s (arguably) most haunted village – Pluckley – where it seems almost every building and piece of land has its own ghost story to tell. Pinnock Bridge has its Gypsy or Watercress Woman who is supposed to have set herself on fire from a combination of the pipe she was smoking and the gin she was drinking at the same time. She wafts around as a misty figure.
The Elvey Farm has a haunted dairy where an 18th century farmer – Edward Brett – fatally shot himself. He is still heard, muttering ‘I will do it.’
A black silhouette of a miller haunts the site of an old windmill, while a red lady walks her small white dog around the churchyard and a white lady wanders around inside the same church. The locals at the time of her death must have really feared her. She was buried inside not one, but seven coffins AND an oak sarcophagus. She’s still pacing around there though!
An unfortunate love affair led to the suicide (by poisoning) of the Lady of Rose Court, and a poor man who fell into a clay pit still screams in agony. A schoolmaster who hanged himself is still apparently trapped at the site of his demise.
Now, after experiencing all that, you could well be forgiven for deciding to retire to the local hostelry (the Black Horse Inn). Surely here you could kick back and relax over a pint of foaming ale or a glass of comforting wine? Not a bit of it! After the phantom coach and horses have thundered by outside, expect things to start flying around you as the resident poltergeist gets to work.
But I digress. Back to the woods.
In the 18th century, a highwayman called Robert du Bois was tracked down and run through with a sword while he hid in a tree in these very woods. Another version states that he was dragged to the woods before being lynched. Either way, his are the screams which give the woods their name - along with a couple of other unfortunates, such as the army colonel who hanged himself and still can be seen dangling from his tree, and the ghostly soldier who wanders the woodland paths. Others who have simply lost their way - and never found it again - add their desperate voices to the cacophony from beyond the grave.
Sceptics might say it’s just foxes. Everyone knows foxes can make a terrible racket. As if hell itself had opened and let the screams of the damned escape.
But those of us who know about such things, don’t need any such explanations.