Think about driving down the country road in the darkest hour with spine-chilling surroundings, and suddenly you lose control of your wheels and something else takes over. Could it be a spirit? Could it be the devil itself? No, it’s the disembodied Hairy Hands driving you off the road to take you through the tunnel of death.

It seems like a movie as so often such a thing would only be witnessed in a cinematic experience, but in spite of it being an unfortunate turn of events, it is REAL. This urban legend is based on true happenings, as explained by the victims. These events took place on the road of Dartmoor, located in Devon, an English County.

It is believed that even today, the roads of Dartmoor still display a blood-curdling picture during the night. Such events seldom take place, and there seems to be no way whatsoever to stop the creepy hairy hands from coming back every single time. There is no back story associated with the hairy hands, rather than the beliefs of some locals who claim that an unnamed man met an accident on this very road. 

It all began back in 1910 when there was an abrupt increase in the complaints from cyclists and motorists about the occurrence of supernatural events taking place and having accidents in the most suspicious way possible. These unusual events took place on the road between Postbridge and Two Bridges.

Pic Credit – Derek Harper

According to the victims, their vehicles would suddenly deviate and the driver would have no control as if there was someone else who was purposely attempting to crash the vehicle. Most of the cyclists recounted that their handlebars would jolt and they were ridden off the road violently.

Clapper Bridge at Postbridge
Pic Credit – Ethan Doyle

The victims believed that a pair of disembodied hairy hands would take control of the steering wheels of the car or the handlebars of the cycles or motorbikes and force them off the road in the most inhuman way possible. Sometimes, the victims reported that the hands were invisible.

The victims managed to survive these terrorizing attacks and did not become a front-page story in the newspaper until the death of the medical officer of Dartmoor Prison. Dr. E.H. Helby. He allegedly became the first victim of the formidable hairy hands and got killed in June 1921. Dr. Helby lost control of his bike and died upon crashing while the young girls in the sidecar, the daughters of the prison governor, survived. Another accident followed several weeks after Dr. Helby’s death when a coach driver suspiciously lost control and consequently injured several passengers on board. 

The Dartmoor ghost story grabbed attention nationwide when an Army Captain reported a similar scary experience when his motorcycle got held and was ridden off the road by a pair of invisible hands. This took place on 26th August 1921, and the events had started becoming perpetual. Soon after the Captain’s accident, the news was published in London and quickly spread out across the nation. It became a hot topic to gossip about and formulate theories.

There is another story which was told by Rufus Endle, a journalist and an author. Rufus stated that “A pair of hands gripped the driving wheel and I had to fight for control.” Though he survived the crash and claimed that the hands just vanished as inexplicably as they had come. The story of Rufus Endle was shared in Supernatural by Michael Williams after Rufus’s death as the author requested Michael Williams to publish the story after his death out of fear of ridicule.

The petrifying events did not just victimize travelers. Anyone in that vicinity fell prey to the spooky hairy hands. In 1924, a woman along with her husband was camping one night near Dartmoor where she believed she saw a hairy hand trying to seek entrance into her caravan during the night. She added that the hand disappeared as soon as she pulled out the Cross sign. Apparently, there was something that could deal with these hairy hands after all. 

Due diligence was done by the authorities to investigate these events after the ghost story was reported on media, but the authorities reached a dead end. There was no compelling evidence connecting the dots. In the end, it was concluded that these stories are nothing but superstitions and the main reason behind these accidents is rather a dangerous pattern of the road.

The road has unpredictable sharp curves and turns which ultimately leads the drivers or cyclists to lose control of their vehicles and crash eventually. The structure of the road was changed and made more drivers friendly to avoid further accidents.

There is no solidifying pattern or story which proves that the hairy hands are real. It might be nothing but the road structure causing the accidents because there are so many legends linked to Dartmoor due to its bleakness. Nonetheless, even after a century, the urban legend of the sinister hairy hands remains unsolved and we as a reader are still fascinated with those ghostly hands.


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