I grew up in Berkshire near a village called Taplow, which was out in the countryside somewhat. At the bottom of the lane that I lived on was Hunt's wood. It is a fairly small area of woodland, probably no more than two kilometre's square.
The basic plan of the wood was a rectangular shape, divided into quarters by intersecting tracks, with a main path running down the left hand side of the wood. The north and south west sectors were natural oak/ash woodland, whereas the north and south east sectors appeared to be man made woodland with tightly planted rows of very tall dense pine trees. Very little else grew underneath due to the darkness below the canopy, except in the south east sector where the ground level is densely populated by rhododendron bushes.
From about the age of seven or eight I used to play in the woods all day long with my friends up until my mid to late teens. I knew the woods like the back of my hands and there wasn't a single area that I hadn't explored with my friends.
During the summer of 1997, after just turning eighteen I had been out drinking with some friends in Burnham, which was a small village across the woods from my house. We left the pub just before midnight, and as there were no taxis around I decided to walk home as it was only a few miles back. As I approached the edge of Hunts wood, and feeling somewhat worse for wear, I decided that rather than walking three or four kilometre's around the wood, I would take a short cut and walk directly through the wood. The thought of walking through the wood alone at night didn't bother me much as I knew the area so well.
I wasn't near the main path that ran all the way down the west side of the wood so I thought I would cut across the man made sectors and join up with the main path which led back to the lane where my house was. As I started walking through the wood I started to realise that I wasn't heading in the right direction. It was probably a combination of the amount I had drunk that night and the fact that not much light was coming through the canopy of the pine trees. As I continued to stumble through the woods I started to walk into dense rhododendron bushes and realised that I was coming into the south east sector.
As I was walking I tripped on something and fell down into some bushes. I think I hit a branch as I fell, as it knocked the wind out of me. As I was lying on the ground I became aware of some noises to the side of me. I thought I heard something that sounded like chanting of some kind. I sat up and looked around and realised I had fallen through into a small clearing in the rhododendron bushes.
I could see a small fire in the middle of the clearing that I hadn't seen or heard as I was walking into the area. As my eyes started to adjust to the light I looked around and could see some wooden structures in the clearing, there were small tree stumps that appeared covered with bits of fur and what appeared to be blood and a frame work that looked like the making of a tent.
I saw lots of rabbits hanging from the top of the framework, tied by their legs. As I looked closer I could see that there heads had been cut off and blood was dripping out of their necks into small wooden buckets below. It was then that I suddenly started to hear the chanting again. I looked back over to the fire and saw shadows starting to move on the far side of the clearing. I strained my eyes in the dark to see beyond the fire.
I could make out three figures moving on the far side of the fire. I stood up and started to move towards the edge of the clearing. The three figures started to move around the side of the fire. They were dressed in long dark cloaks, with hoods over their heads. I couldn't see their faces, but could make out some features that were highlighted by the fire light. They came past the fire and moved towards me. I turned and burst through the surrounding bushes and tried to start running.
I kept getting caught up due to the density of the rhododendrons and I could hear the chanting getting closer behind me. I was absolutely terrified and was now running with blind panic through the woods. Then, just as suddenly as I had fallen into the rhododendron bushes I burst out and found my self on one of the intersecting tracks. I turned back to look behind me but couldn't see anything and I couldn't hear the chanting either. I didn't stop and continued to run through the more open woodland of the south west sector. I reached the main path through the wood on the west side, and continued to run all the way home.
The next day I was thinking about my experience the previous night and wasn't sure exactly what I had seen. I wasn't sure whether it was due to the amount that I had been drinking. Later that day one of my mates called to make sure I got home alright. I told him about what I had seen, and he agreed to come over so that we could go back to the wood that afternoon and check it out.
He arrived late that afternoon and we headed back into the woods. As the area that I had fallen through into the clearing was covered with rhododendron bushes, we headed into the south east sector, as that was the only place theses bushes grew. We spent nearly two hours in the woods looking, but could find no trace of the clearing or the things that I had seen the previous night. My mate laughed about it and said that it was just my imagination playing tricks on me because I was fairly drunk. As I had spent the last ten or so years playing in the woods and knew the area so well, I started to think perhaps I had imagined it as I could find no trace of the clearing in such a relatively small area.
I didn't pay much thought to that night again until a couple of months later, I had arrived home to find my mum and one of her friends, Rosemary there in a real state. Rosemary often came over to visit my mum during the day. She had two dogs that she would bring with her and walk in the woods. Rosemary started to explain what had happened.
She had come over as usual and had gone out into the woods with her two dogs. She always took the same route through the woods; up the main path, then cutting across the south west sector to the tracks that intersected the woods, then up the tracks to the top of the wood alongside the dense areas of pine forest, and across and back on to the main path and then back through the woods to our lane.
This time she had got off the main path and let the dogs of the lead as normal. The dogs ran off into the woods and generally ran alongside Rosemary as she walked. But as she approached the side of the south east sector, the dogs ran off into the rhododendron bushes. After a few minutes she realised that she hadn't heard the dogs for a while. She started to shout their names, and tried to call them over. She still couldn't hear the dogs, but realised that the woods were completely silent, no birds, no wind in the trees, nothing. Suddenly one of the dogs started barking and growling. It was coming from an area deep under the pine trees where the undergrowth is dense with rhododendrons.
I know the area she was talking about and it is just densely packed with vegetation. Rosemary said she could then hear the other dog start whimpering in the bushes. The first dog was still barking. She started into the bushes to try and find the dogs as it sounded like one was injured. She then stumbled through into a small clearing. She saw one of the dogs sitting in the clearing, barking away at a large wooden cross that had decapitated rabbits hanging from the arms. She looked round and saw a tree stump covered in blood and animal fur. On the far right of the clearing there were lots of wooden buckets filled with blood.
Rosemary again called for her dog who was still barking; suddenly she heard a branch snap on the far side of the clearing, then another and another as if something was coming through the wood towards her. She turned and ran through the bushes out of the clearing and back to the track, and continued to run out of the bushes. As she reached the end of the woods and got back to the end of our lane, the dog that had been barking came running out of the woods behind her.
They came back to our house where my mum was and this is the point where I returned. The other dog that had been heard whimpering never came back out of the wood. Rosemary was in a bad state of shock from what she had just seen. We decided to call the police and let them investigate it. When Rosemary had finished telling us what happened it struck me that what she had seen was very similar to what I had seen that night a couple of months previously. I didn't say what had happened to me at the time.
The next day the police came down with dogs and went back out into the woods with Rosemary to try and find the clearing and her dog. As with what happened to me, the police and Rosemary spent hours searching the wood, but could not find this clearing or any signs of her other dog. This was the last time that Rosemary walked her dog in the wood. I have only been back to the woods a few times since but have not been back into the eastern sectors of the woods.