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Haunted forests and scary woods

The woodland at St Mary's Vale in winter, with its bare, twisted trees giving a spooky, other-worldy feel to the area.
The woodland at St Mary's Vale, Brecon Beacons, Powys | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Cracking twigs, branches catching in your hair and creeping tendrils of mist swirling around your ankles – there’s no doubt that woods can be scary places sometimes. Feeling brave? Venture into the depths of the spookiest woods in our care to uncover historical horrors and spine-chilling legends.

Blickling Great Wood, Norfolk
The eeriest route through the woodlands at Blickling winds through the Great Wood to the Mausoleum, built in 1793 to commemorate the 2nd Earl of Buckingham. Blickling was the ancestral home of the Boleyn family, and Anne Boleyn's father, Sir Thomas, is said to haunt the woodlands and grounds. He's supposedly cursed for failing to stop Henry VIII from executing both Anne and her brother. Anne is reported to appear here every 19 May, on the anniversary of her execution.Visit Blickling's Great Wood
Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punchbowl, Surrey
A brutal murder took place at Hindhead Commons in 1786. On his journey from London to Portsmouth docks, a sailor was killed by three men he'd befriended in a local pub. Make your way through the woodland and up to the summit at Gibbet Hill, where you can find the stone that marks the spot of his untimely death.Visit Hindhead Commons
Lydford Gorge, Devon
Tucked away on the edge of Dartmoor, the ancient wooded Lydford gorge is full of myths and mysteries. Follow the path to Whitelady Waterfall, named for the ghostly figure that is said to appear nearby. If that's not scary enough, you can imagine that you're back in the 16th century when a notorious outlaw band called the Gubbins were alleged to have made their home here.Visit Lydford Gorge
Lydford Gorge in autumn with suspension bridge over the river, Devon
Lydford Gorge, Devon, in autumn | © National Trust Images/Dianne Giles
Rowallane Garden, County Down
Become lost in time when you investigate the folklore in the old wood at Rowallane Garden. It's been suggested that fairies make their home among the trees, which is a familiar part of the local folklore here. Connect with nature and see if you can spot evidence of supernatural goings-on.Visit Rowallane Garden
Wenlock Edge, Shropshire
Creeping through the gnarled and twisted tree trunks at Wenlock Edge, it’s easy to imagine that you might come across the ghost of Ippikin, a 13th-century highwayman who made his home in the woods. Or maybe you’ll meet Major Smallman, who galloped his horse off the Edge to escape capture during the English Civil War. He survived the 200-foot drop, but his spirit is said to have returned here after he died.Visit Wenlock Edge
St Mary's Vale, Monmouthshire
Walk under the woodland canopy of St Mary’s Vale and you'll catch the occasional glimpse of Sugar Loaf mountain looming high above you. The whole place has an air of mystery about it, especially in autumn when the twisted tree trunks emerge out of the mist, and you'll only hear the Nant Iago stream and bare branches creaking. According to local legend, this is a frequent haunt of Jack O’Kent the Giant, so be careful how you go.Visit St Mary's Vale
Maidenhead Thicket, Berkshire
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the stretch of the Bath Road that ran through Maidenhead Thicket was notorious for the number of highwaymen who patrolled it. The vegetation allowed them to spring from the shadows, rob unwary travellers and then melt back into the darkness. One such highwayman who operated in the Thicket was Captain James Hind – among his many famous exploits was a failed robbery of Oliver Cromwell and his seven bodyguards.Visit Maidenhead Thicket
Visitors  walk through a round structure of twigs in Walk Wood, Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex

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