What are Dartmoor’s Hairy Hands?

With looming tors and misty shrubland, it’s no surprise that Dartmoor simply oozes legends and folklore.

One of the most chilling tales is that of the Hairy Hands.

This eerie legend has intrigued locals and visitors alike. I remember reading about them in a book I purchased called “Dark and Darstadly Dartmoor” when I was younger, and the story’s stayed with me!

Here is all you need to know.

The legend

According to numerous reports, these ghostly hands appear out of nowhere, seizing control of the vehicle’s steering wheel or handlebars, and causing the unsuspecting driver or cyclist to veer off the road.

The incidents have been reported on a stretch of the B3212 road, which runs between the villages of Postbridge and Two Bridges.

Witnesses often describe the hands as large, rough, and covered in thick hair, with an almost animalistic appearance.

These disembodied hands are said to materialize suddenly, often at high speeds, giving the victim no time to react.

Although some have reported them to be invisible and have just said they felt them on their vehicle. Terrifying stuff!

The first sighting

The first known encounter with the Hairy Hands dates back to the early 1920s.

In June 1921, Dr. E.H. Helby, a medical officer at Dartmoor Prison, was riding his motorcycle along the B3212 when he suddenly lost control and crashed.

He survived the incident but was left deeply shaken, claiming that a pair of unseen, hairy hands had seized his handlebars, forcing him off the road.

Historical accounts

solitary white wild horse in Dartmoor at sunset

The legend of the Hairy Hands has been bolstered by numerous historical accounts, with many people swearing that they have seen them!

Here are some of the most notable accounts:

  • 1921: Dr. E.H. Helby: Dr. E.H. Helby, a medical officer at Dartmoor Prison, was riding his motorcycle along the B3212 in June 1921. He suddenly lost control and crashed. Helby survived the accident and later recounted that a pair of hairy, invisible hands had seized his handlebars, causing him to veer off the road.
  • 1924: A young army officer reported a similar incident while riding his motorcycle along the same road. He described how his bike was suddenly gripped by invisible hands, forcing him off the road and into a ditch. Though he escaped with minor injuries, his experience echoed Dr. Helby’s.
  • 1920s: A family traveling by car experienced a terrifying moment when the vehicle’s steering wheel was suddenly wrenched from the driver’s hands. The car swerved uncontrollably before the driver managed to regain control, narrowly avoiding a serious accident. The family was convinced that the Hairy Hands were responsible.
  • 1930s: A woman camping in a caravan near the B3212 reported waking up one night to see a pair of hairy hands crawling up the window, trying to get inside. Terrified, she and her companions left the area immediately.
  • 1940s: A cyclist riding along the B3212 experienced a sudden, forceful grip on his handlebars, which caused him to lose balance and crash. He later described the sensation as if a powerful, unseen force had taken over his bike.
  • 1950s: A bus driver claimed that while driving a route along the B3212, his vehicle was suddenly and inexplicably pulled towards the edge of the road. He managed to stop the bus safely but reported feeling an overwhelming sense of being physically overpowered by an unseen presence. Passengers on the bus also felt the sudden swerve, though none saw the hands themselves.
  • 1960s: A hiker walking along the road at dusk reported feeling a sudden, icy grip around his wrists. Though he saw nothing, the pressure was so intense that it left marks on his skin.
  • 1970s: A couple driving through the area at night felt their car’s steering wheel wrenched from their control. They described the sensation of hairy hands clutching the wheel, forcing them towards the edge of the road. Shaken but unharmed, they later recounted their experience to local authorities, adding their voices to the numerous tales of the Hairy Hands.

What could the hairy hands be?

Some suggested that the hands belonged to a long-dead convict from Dartmoor Prison, seeking revenge on those who travelled through his territory.

Others believed that the hands were the manifestation of an ancient curse, laid upon the land by a wronged spirit.

Whether you believe in them or not, the legend continues to be passed down through generations!

Possible explanations

Hay Tor Dartmoor Devon England Sunrise over the rocks at Hay Tor

Some rational explanations have been proposed!

The narrow, winding roads of Dartmoor can be treacherous, especially in poor weather conditions.

High winds, slippery surfaces and sudden changes in road conditions could easily cause accidents.

Additionally, the isolation and eerie atmosphere of Dartmoor might contribute to the psychological effect, making people more susceptible to such supernatural experiences.

I will say that, whenever I’ve driven on this stretch of road, I’ve held onto my steering wheel extra tight!

Check out my Dartmoor guide here.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *