Away with the Fairies … Clapham Woods revisited ….

Clapham Woods revisited.

So, today I revisited Clapham Woods with my walking companions from Worthing Pagan Moot. It is becoming quite a regular walk nowadays, not hazardous or tricky, just a nice amble through some wonderful woodland which puts a respectable amount of mud on your boots.

Some people call the place satanic because of the history of the area (I have written a previous post on this). Personally, I feel it’s just trees with folklore attached, I find nothing sinister about Clapham, although, the tail end of Storm Brian did make the old timbers creek a bit.



It’s a pleasant meander through the churchyard and across the field, today containing three grey and white dappled horses. I have come face to face with the most enormous bull before, but that is a completely different story.

We then traverse a small woodland path before having to cross the main field which usually houses a herd of masticating cows – and quite obviously, their vast array of cowpats. I’m sure there is some sort of bovine competition going on between them; they come closer to see which human slips first…


Observers quote there isn’t a lot of bird song within the woods, this is true, there never has been. But one of my walking companions did spot a green woodpecker on the fringes today, and there are often magpies and pheasants strutting around the fields. Not to mention the butterflies and dragonflies zipping across the pastures.

Naturally we had to go to the Witching Tree, our trail always leads us there. It’s good to see the old Beech still sturdy after all these years. Some say it is upto 300 years old, some say a lot older, I can’t imagine what sights it has seen. Rumour speculates a witch was once hung from its branches; and left until dead, but I have yet to find any concrete evidence of this. I know it has become a site for spell work and ritual magic over the years and many offerings have been found at the root of the tree. Yet as for sinsiter grey mists of the dark arts or the malevolent Friends of Hecate? I am finding the idea less and less believable over the years and can’t help wondering if it is an act of fiction to keep ramblers from the property, particularily dog walkers as the land owners breed a lot of pheasant for the shooting season and don’t want their profits diminuished by one stray dog.


After our time at the Witching Tree, we went in search of the UFO Crater, which is found through the metal gate towards the dip of Long Furlong. The crater realistically looks like an old dug out clay pit, although some speculate it is the damage left from an errant WW2 bomb. Apparently it is called UFO crater because this is where most of the UFO sightings have been observed. Dark night. Camp Fire. One too many tipples as the cold night rolls in and the headlights of distant cars on Long Furlong would look like lights in the sky – who knows? I like to hunt unidentified anythings, but I have yet to see a Flying Saucer over Clapham. The area has been the focus of a great deal of UFOlogical study, and hosted a number of sky-watching vigils over the years, yet no solid evidence has ever emerged. I did take my dowsing rods into the crater, they did very little except get whirled round by the wind; they wouldn’t affirm or deny UFO activity, so unless we witness the phenomena with our own eyes, I guess we will never know. Wouldn’t it be great though, if it did happen?


From here it turned a little cold, so we decided to make a move back. Searching out flora and fauna as we went. On our trek back towards the cow field,  we stumbled across the biggest mushroom I have ever seen (hardly surprising with all those cowpats). I am not an expert, hence the reason I never forage for fungi, the soup I create would make Typhoid Annie look like an amateur. But this blossoming fungus was magnificent, it had a couple of smaller companions which it enigmatically dwarfed, the photos really don’t do it justice.


It was a lovely walk, warm in the sun, a little chilly in the shade, and the sound of Storm Brian whipping up the branches and leaves giving it the atmosphere it deserved. Thankfully we managed to get home before the rain started. I was ravanous and craving cheese on toast. It was a lovely way to finish a Sunday afternoon rambling  with friends …



Away with the Fairies Trailer.

So, here’s a bit of fun. Something I filmed a while back, and yes; I now have different coloured hair. But I had the urge to do some video editing, I haven’t had the opportunity for ages. So, I dug out these clips and opened iMovie; thus proceeded hours of amusement (it doesn’t take much). Have fun … I did.

Away with the Fairies … The Banshee.

The Banshee. 


(photographer unknown.)
Traditionally an Irish creature believed to be of fairy origin; she is tasked with the job of warning family members of an imminent death within the household. Some believe they only appear for selected noble folk of Eire, others swear to have heard The Banshee wail upon the deathbed of their family member who was not related to Irish nobility.

Female and nearly always in three’s; a young maid, a middle-aged matron and an old crone; dressed in either white or dusky grey. They appear hooded or with long, wild hair flowing in the wind (sometimes described as having a silver comb in it, leading to the superstition of finding a comb on the ground as bad luck). Dishevelled, stinking and screaming the omen of death.

Her caterwaul is referred to as caoine (keening), possibly based on the ancient tradition of Irish women singing a lament at funerals, known locally as Keeners. The connection seems deliciously apt. Are Keeners somehow embroiled within the legend of The Banshee? Singing ladies aiding to ease the loss of a family member, or is The Banshee a true spirit of the sky, screeching like a demented ghost; ridiculing the soon-to-be bereaved?

Not all Banshee’s come in three’s; sometimes she appears alone, a washer woman, who scrubs the bloodstains out of the ill-fated victims clothes; although this seems a little mysterious as The Banshee is reported to be very rarely seen; only heard. Her wails so harrowing it is like no other sound known on earth, thin and reedy, and at such a pitch it could shatter bone.

What few sightings there have been, dictate that once aware of being watched; she evaporates into an angry mist; with the sound of flapping wings resonating in your ears.

King James I believed he had been approached by one such creature; in 1437. Odd then that he was murdered not long after.

The Banshee does not cause death, merely warns of it. And although many consider her to be merely a myth retold over the centuries, many do believe in her existence; just as many truly believe they have heard her warning cry moments before a loved one passes away.
Sources: Drakensang online.

Away with the Fairies … Racton Tower.

Racton Tower.  Funtington.  West Sussex.

By far, one of the creepiest places I have ever been to so far, and I was there in broad daylight.

tree racton

There is a distinctly malevolent mood about the place, a veiled ambience which hinted of dark deeds. Lots of ivy, very isolated; hidden from prying eyes. I certainly wouldn’t want to be around it at night on my own.

Racton Tower is a four storey tapering monument built in approximately 1772 as either a folly or a watch tower; sadly now just a ruin. To find it, you have to park at the bottom of a small track and walk up the incline to get near the place; and seriously, it felt like someone was following me all the way. I’m a bit of a ballsy bird, 3rd Dan Black Belt; not an awful lot unnerves me, but every time I looked round, I half expected some sort of Phantom Menace to be leering out of the bushes. It has a seriously displaced atmosphere.

Well worth a visit if you like being spooked. Dark Magic sparks the imagination in the heavy atmosphere which envelopes the ruin. I can easily envisage occult practice and illegal RAVES going on.

At 80 feet high it is visible for quite a few miles, yet isn’t the easiest place to pin-point. I drove passed it at least twice before parking up and wandering up a narrow bridleway, hoping it was close by, literally to stumble across the edifice surrounded by dense foliage and broken down wire fencing. Someone wanted visitors kept out, but obviously visitors had other plans.

Popular with ghost hunters due to its links with devil worship; reports of a ghostly woman ambling around the site; of dark spectral beings skulking close by; even bricks thrown from the top of the folly itself have been reported. Much is added to the benevolence of the place by the graffiti daubed within the structure and the evidence of nocturnal activity obvious to even the most disinterested observers.

A paranormal investigation was carried out here by a Portsmouth based team called ‘Ghost Intelligent Investigations’ and their findings can be viewed on YouTube.

Racton Tower, although it has no obvious purpose except for a rich mans whimsy, an eccentric frivolity perhaps to watch ships dock at Emsworth some 3 miles away; it is without doubt, now atmospheric to the degree of Blair Witch syndrome. I’d like to re-visit Racton but a nagging feeling tells me that wouldn’t be a good idea; it’s cold, even on a sunny day and decidedly unpleasant; so what is it that draws me back?


Sources: found objects. ghost intelligent investigations. a bit about Britain.

Away with the Fairies … Cyclops.



I expect most of us remember the tales of these creatures from our childhood. The big, bumbling humanoid form which is sometimes kindly and dumb; but mostly intelligent and aggressive.

The Cyclops is a one eyed humongous who has the strength of 1,000 men. Mostly of Greek and then later, Roman mythology; the most famous being Polyphemus from Homer’s Odyssey. Cyclopses are members of a primitive race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of their forehead. The name is widely thought to mean “round-eyed” or “circle-eyed”. They are carnivorous and enjoy the meat of sheep and human’s.


The Cyclops by Odilon Redon (undated.)

Sources: wikipedia. monster,com. wikivillians.

Away with the Fairies … Fittleworth Woods.

Fittleworth Woods. Fittleworth. West Sussex.

Fittleworth is a lovely little village just a few miles between Petworth and Pulborough. The great Nineteenth-century folklorist, Charlotte Latham lived here with her Reverend husband, writing up her fables and fairytales.
There is a legend here of the Hissing Worm of Fittleworth. Said to live in the treetops and never come to ground, spraying its venom from the cover of the branches.


More sweetly, a little wooden bear lives here. He has been repaired numerous times over the years, and sadly at the time of writing, only has one leg. Apparently he was a wedding gift to a young couple for felt he should be allowed to roam free. And roam free he has done for many years.

Countless visitors leave gifts for the friendly little chap and he is often spotted in festive dress over the Christmas or Easter period, welcoming any guest to his special little wood.


Away with the Fairies … Fruit Flinging.

Fruit Flinging Event. Worthing. West Sussex.

The Local Custom of throwing oranges and lemons (some say at each other but in all respect to health and safety they are thrown the longest distance with the winner claiming a cash prize) is in remembrance of a stricken sea vessel that went down off the coast of Sussex. The event is held every year on the sands just off Heene Terrace, recalling the many tonnes of fruit that was washed ashore from the S.S.Indiana in 1901.

7867654(Barely above the surface. The S.S.Indiana, March 1st 1901. Photographer unknown.)

Plaque close to Worthing Pier, detailing not just the sinking of the S.S.Indiana but of other wrecks off the coast.


The SS Indiana ran aground in March 1901, bursting her hold as tens of thousands of oranges and lemons bobbed ashore between the beaches of Goring and Brighton. She was still dived upon until recent years, though now her wreck has been consumed by the sea, even in her watery grave, she briefly provided a home for giant conger eels.
Thousands of people splashed into the chilly waters to gather their unexpected prize from this maritime accident. Allegedly one man died in Brighton after wading into the cold water to collect his reward and suffered a fatal heart attack, whilst fights broke out amongst others in their eager attempt to take home their fruity pickings, not to mention the highly priced bottled citrus oil which was also being transported in the hold. The local constabulary was employed to chase off the looters but according to reports they could not have succeeded as there was an excess of marmalade for many years.


Young competitors throwing their oranges and lemons. (Be warned to keep out the way!)

The ever-present Morris Dancers help kick off the event.

7867681 7868167
Over 200 competitors usually take part in this annual event and all monies raised are divided out amongst local charities.