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24 September 2014

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Definitely not a helping hand...
Mind the hands as you drive
The Hairy Hands of Dartmoor
The mother-in-law, the husband, the amateur map reader, none of these are quite as dangerous a backseat driver as those infamous hands on the roads of Dartmoor.

Of all the spirits, entities and creatures that are said to inhabit the county of Devon, none are so openly hostile towards people as the Hairy Hands.

Picture this; you're driving the narrow moors lane near Postbridge and Princetown, its dark, cold and a typical moors night.

All of a sudden the steering wheel or handlebars are grabbed by a gruesome pair of hairy, calloused hands that are inhumanly strong and do their utmost to fight you off the road.

That's a story that's been repeated many times since its first suggested incident in June 1921 when a worker at Dartmoor Prison was killed as his motorcycle became uncontrollable and crashed.

The tale was related by his children who were riding in the sidecar, all they knew was their father shouting at them to get off the bike and apparently wrestling with the controls.

They jumped clear, he didn't.

This was repeated again sometime later, another motorcyclist, this time with a pillion passenger, seemingly driven off the road approaching the same spot.

This time the passenger saw things more clearly and insisted he saw a large hairy hand grasp the handlebars and forcibly upset the bike.

The last thing you want to see while driving on Dartmoor.

It seems though that its not just motorists that are at risk from the devil's digits, any campers in the area have need to fear too.

In 1924 a young couple were camping in a caravan in the area and the woman was woken in the middle of the night by a heart-racing fear.

Her bunk faced the caravan window and up it she saw crawling a large hand, covered in hair and, she said, exuding an intent to do her and her husband harm.

Instinctively the lady made the sign of the cross and said the hand balked and made its way away.

The tale has arisen again and again and the area has become a notorious area for accidents, many of the survivors giving the story of feeling or seeing the large rough hands, covered in hair grabbing at them and trying to drive them off the road.

Strangely for a legend some of the most skeptical people remain the locals. Many suggest it's all down to 'grockles' trying to drive narrow, high walled roads far too fast.

So are these hands an evil entity, the ghostly form of an ex-Dartmoor Prison inmate or some kind of moors spirit?

Whatever they are, its certainly a good idea to take just that little bit more care when driving around the Postbridge or Princetown area.

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