|The Wodewose or British Bigfoot|
Sketch by Andy McGrath
(I'm clearly no artist!)
Sometimes in the world of Cryptozoology, and especially because of the difficulties of researching undiscovered or thought to be extinct animals, we researchers, have a tendency to make 'concessions for credibility'. This in its most basic form, is a sacrifice of one 'principle' to build up 'another'. So, for example, if I say, that I believe that there is a monster in Loch Morar, but that because of 'poor' conditions and over-imaginative public desire, that there is unlikely to be a monster in Loch Ness; then I imbue myself with a type of objectivism and subconsciously increase my credit within the public sphere. Similarly with Bigfoot, if I say, that I believe there is a North American Bigfoot, because of the multitudinous eyewitness testimonies and the available habitat, but I don't believe that there is a British Bigfoot, that is attested to, with the same types of eyewitness testimony; simply because I assume that the conditions for habitation don't exist in the UK. I again, sacrifice one equally valid 'principle' to build up the credibility of 'another'.
Bigfoot research in the UK, has until recent times, been entrusted to those few indentured initiates, who willingly took on the mantra of 'laughing stock' within the British cryptozoology community, (a community that has at times been more sceptic than skeptic!), in order to follow the delightful track and trail of one of the delicacies of our trade - the rejected cryptid. These faithful followers in the footsteps of other great and mocked explorers, have kept tryst in hard times and nurtured interest in this subject, when even those, born-again believers, of the US Bigfoot belt, laughed at their claims for a British Bigfoot, due to unsubstantiated perceptions about poor habitat and a 'residual image' of the UK, as one giant city, covering every scrap of green in sight.
To the consternation of the Hubbard-like adherents to the cult of zooform, this flesh and blood phenomenon, shows no sign of dying away and instead what we are seeing, is increased awareness and a greater willingness to report these strange sightings, due to the availability of a now established and respectful infrastructure of experienced and open-minded organisations and researchers.
So it is, with this 'out with the old and in with the new' peaceful takeover, that new faces, fresh field researchers, healthy debate and evidential enquiry, has begun to spread in the study of the British and European Bigfoot and their long history and current presence, in our part of the world.
To continue these 'Tales of The Wodewose', we have another previously unreported sighting from Baggeridge Country Park, near...ish to Wolverhampton, England, in an area that is commonly known as the Black Country.
I would like to thank Hal Smith, for travelling to the location and engendering a safe environment within which, this elderly couple, without access to the online world, or even any knowledge of the 'bigfoot phenomenon', were able to speak openly and without fear of ridicule; and finally, get closure and reassurance, on what after all, must have been a very traumatic experience for them.
Here is their sighting as reported by Hal Smith.
On Tuesday morning I was up on Baggeridge Ridge at around 9.30 when I saw an elderly gent walking his dog. He said morning to me and carried on down towards the car park. I finished around 10 and headed for the cafe. The gent was in there.. I got a coffee and sat down.. after a while, he came over and sat down.. He pointed at my t-shirt (Gone Squatchin') and asked If I believed in it. I said yes and told him that I investigate sightings..He said he had something to tell me but wanted his wife present.. We arranged to meet back at the cafe on Thursday at 9am.
Thursday I got there around 8.55 and they came at around 9.15. We sat, had a coffee and chatted in general. I brought up the subject of sightings and the old fella said not hear and we left the cafe. They led me up a path that I know well as I had put owl boxes up there about 10 previous. This area I call horseshoe path because it follows the treeline in a half circle. The path is only single file-wide with trees on both sides. One side falls downhill and the other side has a slight incline and it is very quiet there.. very few people use as it is off the beaten path. We reached an area around halfway around the trail. Then they told me what they had seen.
One morning around 9.30 in April 2017 the elderly couple were out walking their little dog as they did most mornings. They chose this path as their dog does not get on well with other dogs and it's very rare to see anyone else up there. As they walked along the man noticed a dark figure in the trees around 30 feet away. He thought it was strange as it seemed to be watching them from behind a tree then ducking in every time it was noticed. The man decided not to say anything to his wife as he did not want to alarm her. They continued to walk but the figure stayed around the same pace as them and continued to try and remain hidden. After around 10 minutes had passed the man's wife noticed he seemed anxious and asked what the matter was. He told her and pointed the figure out. She eventuality spotted it and saw it duck back in and start peeping at them from around the tree it was hiding behind. The dog then started barking and growling at it. They rushed as best they could with the dog now on the lead and eventually reached a fork in the path and they knew that one way would take them back to the car park. As they turned at the bottom of the path that leads out of the woods and onto open fields they stopped to catch their breath. As they looked back from where they had come from, the creature had stepped out onto the open path.. They both agreed it stood upright, was very dark in colour and covered in hair. She said it was around 8 feet tall, but he said it was closer to 7. It didn't follow them any further. They got back to their car and now, don't walk that area any more. In fact the rarely use Baggeridge Country Park anymore, so our accidental meeting was a spot of good fortune, as I got the story they have never told anyone before and I was able to put their minds at rest that they had nothing to fear from these animals, as there have never been any reports of anyone being harmed by one in the UK.
They wish to remain anonymous, but I have no reason to disbelieve their story as they seemed very scared to me and the elderly lady had to keep wiping tears from her eyes.
There is nothing fanciful in this report. The witnesses are disconnected from the modern world by age and lack of technological awareness, In fact, if not for Hal's Bigfoot 'Bat Signal', shining out into the village either, in the form of his 'Gone Squatchin' Tee! The old gentleman who spotted it, may never have felt secure enough to tell another soul about the strange encounter, that he and his wife had experienced. I can only imagine what mental reassignment of reality, they must have had to cope with in that past year, in order to both rationalise their encounter and to keep it secret, likely fearing local ridicule, amongst their peers. This particular fear being something I understand intrinsically, as I struggle with my intentional overexposure to this world of cryptozoology and my desire to see its popularity grow.
There are other sightings in this area, one of which took place in Showell Lane, in Lower Penn, near Wolverhampton, in May of this year (2018) and describes a witness seeing a man-shaped creature, covered in shaggy, 'orangey' hair, standing around 7 ft in height and in the words of the witness it was, "built like an American football player". This and many other sightings around the UK can be found on Deborah Hatswell's British Bigfoot map.
In the coming years, myself and other researchers that are, 'out in the field', hope to set you on the road, to entertain the plausibility of the existence, of a large hairy hominid, here on our tiny, yet mostly uninhabited island, in the gloomy, yet gorgeous - North Atlantic!