WEIRD NORFOLK hunt the Beast of the A1075 near Thetford after a raft of recent ‘Bigfoot’ sightings
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
Don't wear bright clothes or strong-smelling perfume, listen for knocking and shrieking and try and sniff out bad body odour: just a normal day trip for the Weird Norfolk team.
If you go down in the woods today, you could be in for a big surprise…
Since 1986, there have been a host of eye-witness accounts of something strange lurking in the forest close to Thetford and East Wretham, along the A1075. Here in the Brecks, the landscape is wild. This is a place of sandstorms and heathland, the unique lunar landscape of Grime's Graves and Ice Age Pingo holes and countless thousands of twisted Scots pines, Corsican pines, oak, beech, lime, walnut and maple trees amongst thickets of gorse and carpets of leaves and needles. It boasts its very own microclimate, is unusually dry and is a throwback to when the British Isles was covered in native forest: it is also a notable hotspot for bigfoot or creature sightings.
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In June 1986, an unsettled month filled with electrical storms, unusual hail storms and fog-filled nights, a witness saw a large, long-haired creature with a light grey shaggy coat walking on four legs. On a return journey, the same witness saw the beast rise up on its hind legs like a human, albeit a very hairy human around eight feet tall. And since this time, sightings of mysterious creatures have been - if not frequent, then definitely steady. It's been described as wolf-like, bear-like and "not of this world", and - despite friendly warnings from those in the know - we decided to wander into the woods to see if we could see any signs of a resident sasqaatch.
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To be entirely transparent, we did not wander far into the woods: we're weird, not mad.
Four of us make our way into the brooding silence of the forest - Siofra and I and photographers Denise and Danielle step into this strange and remarkable landscape where, within just weeks, there have been a raft of sightings of unidentified creatures. This is where the wilderness meets modern life, a place where cars can be heard speeding along the A11, yet all you can see are trees. We are in Bigfoot Country, by which I mean we are on the B1075 close to the A11: if it seems an unlikely place for an ape-like creature to be based, bear in mind the easy proximity to roadkill: rather than a drive-by restaurant, think 'driven-over takeaway'. According to records, this is the area in Norfolk where we are most likely to spot the creature which is said to hunt here: other visitors have been sent packing by stones thrown by an invisible assailant, their car shadowed by a presence just out of sight.
Thetford Forest is a hot spot for sightings of strange creatures. Often described as creature with a long snout and dark shaggy fur, some report a beast on four legs, others a creature that rears up on two legs and is at least 7ft tall. Witnesses speak of eye shine close to trees where no creature other than one that was tall and on two legs could access, of low, throaty growls, of being followed - whose idea was this to go on a woodland walk again? - of feeling terrified. Siofra has given us all tips: wear neutral coloured clothing (is black neutral? We are all in black, like a low-rent SAS night ops team), research the local wildlife and don't wear strong-smelling perfume or deodorant which could scare aware the creatures. And we have a check-list which we are to refer to in our search for something strange in the woods. We're looking for odd wooden structures and tracks (not, as you might imagine, big feet, but rather over-sized paw prints with claw marks), listening for strange calls and wood knocks and opening our noses for a bad smell. Bigfoot has BO, apparently, although if he asks, Siofra said that and not me.
In the forest, every footstep we make seems to be amplified, every twig that breaks becoming a calling card for Bigfoot to hear us, smell us and…it doesn't bear thinking about. There are several strange wooden structures that look as if branches have been deliberately bent into arches to form what Bigfoot hunters call 'tree teepees' where the limbs of trees are twisted and wrapped around to form markers or barriers. Additionally, there are areas where bark has been peeled from trees and, in a small clearing around 100m from the roadside, an overpowering stench that smells slightly sulphuric, unpleasant, organic, rotting. It is confined to a strangely small area.
Bigfoot is rooted in folklore, particularly in the east of England where woodwose or wildmen can still be seen gracing churches, hairy men grasping clubs, humanoid creatures covered in hair and found living in the woods. Where we are exploring is where people have been frightened away by unseen rock throwers from the trees or from higher than a human's reach, where dogs fear to tread and where shadowy presences have stalked both people and cars. It's impossible not to feel somewhat on edge, even though we visit during the day - an hour or so before dusk, the sky is beginning to stain with the inky darkness of a winter's night. Inside the forest is cold and damp, a low mist beginning to emerge across a nearby field. We shuffle through piles of dark red leaves and pine needles, looking for track marks, calling signs, listening for tree knocks and calls: nothing jumps out at us, until we spot something unusual.
There on the forest floor, from the direction of the road is a very obvious, very large drag mark that stretches for hundreds of metres, looking as if something the size of a deer had been dragged for some distance. The mark disappears beside a thicket of brambles and bushes. We try to think of anything which could have made such an obvious mark in this location, what else could have dragged something that large through the forest which such determined force. We fail. We leave. Somewhat hastily.
Whether Bigfoot is creeping through the forest at Thetford or through our fertile imaginations, it is clear that in some form or other, the Beast of the A1075 is very much alive and well.
· Thetford Forest Park Bear 1979: Several witnesses reported seeing a bear on the outskirts of the nearby forest, they reported the incident to local radio and police in the area, although no known searches were ever carried out.
· The Beast of the A1075: In December 2007, 21 years after the first reported sighting, another witness saw a similar creature in the same general area. They described it as having grey hair with dark black patches.
· Thetford Norfolk Forest Park Creature Sighting 2009: Something 'not of this world' and around 7ft tall came face-to-face with a witness in a clearing.
· Elveden Baboon: In May 2011, a lorry driver reported seeing a hairy, light grey creature on all fours moving at speed through grass. It then stood on its hind legs and approached the driver, moving like an ape, before dropping back to all fours and running away.
· Thetford walking figure: After dark in June 2017, a witness saw something tall and inexplicable walking along the A1075 and crossing the lane.
· Stones thrown from the trees: Between September and October 2018, two witnesses had a range of objects thrown at their car and saw eye shine in torchlight that appeared to be at around 7ft high, ruling out a deer.
· Growls in the wood: In July 2019, a group of people heard low, throaty growls in Thetford Forest, other reports from around the same time include dogs being spooked by something apparently hiding in the near distance and someone else reported being "shadowed by something I couldn't see".
* Sighting reports from Deborah Hatswell of the British Bigfoot Research Group. Visit
www.ukwildman.blogspot.com for more information, submit reports and view the UK Bigfoot sightings map.
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