Is it possible there is a Bigfoot-type creature in the United Kingdom, but a creature that is only about three to four feet high? It sounds strange, but the fact is there are a number of such cases on record. And, I'll share them with you today. Moving on from Bigfoot, what about Littlefoot? At least, we have to give it a name. Certainly, it’s an undeniable fact that reports emanating from Britain tell of encounters with not just large and lumbering, hairy entities, but with distinctly smaller critters, too. Centuries-old Welsh folklore, for example, tells of the Bwbach, an approximately three foot tall, hair-covered humanoid perceived by the folk of that era as a brownie or nymph. Supposedly, like so many of similar ilk, they would undertake chores and little jobs around the homes of humans, providing they were the recipients of two things: respect and nourishment, the latter usually in the form of oats, milk and cream. And they had a deep hatred of those who avoided alcohol and led teetotal lives! Now, on to a fascinating story.
Wirt Sikes was U.S. Consul to Wales, a noted expert on Welsh folklore, and the author of an acclaimed 1880 book, British Goblins. In its pages, Sikes wrote of the hairy little Bwbach that it: "…is the good-natured goblin which does good turns for the tidy Welsh maid who wins its favour by a certain course of behaviour recommended by long tradition. The maid having swept the kitchen, makes a good fire the last thing at night, and having put the churn, filled with cream, on the whitened hearth, with a basin of fresh cream for the Bwbach on the hob, goes to bed to await the event. In the morning she finds (if she is in luck) that the Bwbach has emptied the basin of cream, and plied the churn-dasher so well that the maid has but to give a thump or two to bring the butter in a great lump. Like the Ellyll which it so much resembles, the Bwbach does not approve of dissenters and their ways, and especially strong is its aversion to total abstainers."
The Bwbach is largely forgotten today, but encounters with small, hairy, man-like figures in Britain are certainly not. Jon Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, says of such matters: "I have many similar reports of such creatures being seen in Devonshire woodland. And the following one is a real cracker because it has so much separate and credible corroboration to it..." Now, it's time to take a look at what went down in the 1990s. Full-time creature-seeker, Jon Downes has taken a deep look at this particular affair. The location, Jon reveals, was Churston Woods, which is situated close to the English holiday resort of Torbay. Jon told me: "Over a six week period, in the summer of 1996, fifteen separate witnesses reported seeing what they could only describe as a green faced monkey, running through the woods. Granted, some of the descriptions were quite vague, but most of the witnesses told of seeing a tailless animal, around four to five feet tall, with a flat, olive-green face that would run through the woods and occasionally would be seen swinging through the trees. Now, to me at least, this sounds like some form of primitive human, but again, of course, such things simply cannot exist in this country – and yet they seem to. And this area – Devon, Somerset and Cornwall - is rich with such tales, you know.’
Now, moving on: "It all started in the late 1950s," began Jason Hill, when he related the details to me in 2008: "My dad was visiting a friend in Heath Hayes [a town very close to Cannock Chase, Staffordshire]. This friend sadly died in the early 1990s; so I am afraid the details are secondhand. Even so, my dad is not the sort of person for tall tales; and the details he repeated to me last Sunday were the same as he told me thirty plus years ago. It was back in 1959 and dad was at his mate’s house talking when his friend’s mother pipes up: “Look! In the newspaper: your little green man!” The newspaper story - dad thinks it was the Express & Star or the Cannock Advertiser - told of a little girl from Pye Green [an area of Cannock] running back home to her mother in tears…
"When questioned," Jason added, "she said a little green man had run from the undergrowth and frightened her. Dad waited his chance and raised the question. His friend, who was very embarrassed, said that in the summer of 1958 he played cricket for GEC [the General Electric Corporation] at Stafford, his place of work, and cycled back home, later than normal across the Cannock chase. On a weaving part of the road he saw something in the headlight of his cycle. The 'something' he saw ran into the road, stopped, and then ran back into the trees. He described it as a 'little green man.' When I first heard it, at the age of nine or ten, I thought it was great; but I grew up and thought it was a pile of rubbish - until a conversation with a friend about strange creatures on the Chase revealed he had a story to tell. Driving past the German Cemetery he felt something fall on the back of the car, like a big branch from an overhanging tree. He looked in the mirror and for a split second saw what he described as a ‘gremlin or sprite,’ little and hairy. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense and seems logical. In fact, if I had thought it through, I probably would not have contacted you. But somewhere in a fifty year old story that has stood the test of time, and a twenty year old version, lies something. But what?" What, indeed?
Now, let's have a look at the Wonder of Wanstead, England. In November 2008, an extremely strange story surfaced from Wanstead - a suburban area of the borough of London. According to witness testimony, a small Bigfoot-type creature was supposedly seen wandering in Epping Forest, a 2,476 hectare area of forestland which, by name at least, was first referenced in the 17th Century, but that has existed since Neolithic times and which, in the 12th Century, was designated as a Royal Forest by King Henry III. Author and researcher Neil Arnold describes how the distinctly odd story began: "The animal was first sighted during early November by eighteen-year-old angler Michael Kent who was fishing with his brother and father in the Hollow Ponds area of Epping Forest, on the border of Wanstead and Leytonstone. The teenager claimed that whilst walking towards his brothers, he heard a rustling in the bushes and saw the back of a dark, hairy animal around four feet in height, that scampered off into the woods." Another of those that caught sight of the diminutive beast was Irene Dainty, who claimed a face to face encounter with the thing on Love Lane, Woodford Bridge. She told the press:
"I had just come out of my flat and just as I had turned the corner I saw this hairy thing come out of nowhere. I really don’t want to see it again. It was about four feet tall and with really big feet and looked straight at me with animal eyes. Then it leaped straight over the wall with no trouble at all and went off into the garden of the Three Jolly Wheelers pub. I was so terrified that I went to my neighbour’s house and told her what had happened. She couldn’t believe it and asked me if I had been drinking, but I said of course I hadn’t – it was only about 3.00 p.m." Further reports subsequently surfaced, some of which were far more of a four-legged variety, maybe even bear-like, rather than actually being suggestive of Bigfoot. But, it was this issue of the "really big feet" that kept the media-driven controversy focused on matters of a mini Sasquatch-type nature. Ultimately, just like so many similar such affairs, sightings of the beast came to an abrupt end and the matter of the Epping Forest monster was never satisfactorily resolved. Questions, Questions, Questions...!
Are we seeing, in these cases, evidence of juvenile British Bigfoot beasts? Or is there a far more down to earth theory to explain the presence of Littlefoot in our very midst? As far as the fquestions are concerned, until (or even if) solid evidence surfaces to validate or deny such controversial scenarios, we must leave these matters firmly on the back-burner. But, to the latter question, there most certainly is a theory that may offer at least some answers to the sightings of smaller, hairy, ape-type beasts roaming Britain. Perhaps there really is a strange "tribe" of Littlefoot in the U.K. There could, however, be another answer - a far more plausible answer: baboons! The very idea that the green and pleasant British countryside may well be playing host to hidden populations of wild baboons sounds manifestly bizarre and unlikely in the extreme, which, for the most part anyway, it surely is! And, yet, sightings of baboons and baboon-like animals certainly do surface from time to time, and from across much of the entire nation.
That these same sightings, of what are actually African and Arabian Old World monkeys, span centuries and are comprised of encounters with both (A) flesh and blood entities and (B) beasts of a distinctly spectral and paranormal nature, and may have, very occasionally, been mistaken for definitive British wild men of small stature, only adds to the mystifying, monkey-based strangeness, as you will now come to firmly appreciate. Writer Neil Arnold has noted several old tales of a wild man variety that may actually have had their origins in encounters with out of place baboons. For example, Neil says that: "During the reign of Queen Anne [of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from 1702-1707], it was rumoured that, at Charing Cross [London], a 'wild man' was on show. The beast was said to have danced on a tight-rope, remaining perfectly balanced to the beat of the music. The creature was also said to have smoked tobacco!’" From the description, it was almost certainly a baboon.
Neil reveals more: "During the eighteenth-century a “man-tiger” from the East Indies was exhibited in London although many believed such a creature to be a baboon. A little, black hairy ‘pigmy’ was also recorded and exhibited at the White Horse Inn, Fleet Street. The being was two feet in height. During the end of the eighteenth century a five foot tall quadruped, deemed the “missing link”, and allegedly found in Mount Tibet, was also showcased in the capital.’" There are many more cases from times long gone. But, we do have a fascinating case that took place in very recent times. On January 17, 1999, a very unusual story surfaced in the pages of Scotland’s Ayrshire Post newspaper. Titled "Baboon sighted near Prestwick Airport," it began as follows: "A motorist spotted what he believed was a Baboon-like creature on the Shaw Farm Road in Prestwick, not far from the airport. Police rushed to the scene, and as the officers got to within 30 yards of the animal it disappeared into the undergrowth." The sighting had reportedly occurred some eleven days before it hit the headlines, and provoked a great deal of fascination when the police revealed to the media the details of its X-Files-like dossier on the enigmatic affair. A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police told the Ayrshire Post:
"We received a call from a local man who said he’d narrowly avoided hitting a baboon-like creature on Shaw Farm Road, Prestwick. A patrol car was sent out and after a search of the area the officers reported seeing an animal of some sort, although they couldn’t be sure what it was." Given that the eyewitnesses to the beast and its antics included members of the police - the officers described it as looking like something that was part-dog and part-monkey, which is a distinctly apt description for the appearance, build and gait of a baboon - the matter was taken very seriously, and newspaper staff noted that careful but futile checks were made at the airport, which, rather interestingly, had received a cargo of livestock only days earlier. A baboon, however, said an airport spokesperson, in response to feverish questions from the press, was most certainly not part of that same cargo.
Is there really a colony of strange littlefoot creatures roaming the U.K.? Or, are we dealing with groups of baboons that might have escaped from various places across the country? So far, we don't have the answer. But, one day, we just might...