The Devils Footprints: The Devil is said to have visited the Devonshire countryside one long-ago winter's night.
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Friday, 20 September 2019

The Devils Footprints

The Devil's Footprints

The Devil's Footprints by Hannah

The Devil is said to have visited the Devonshire countryside one long-ago winter's night. The story became a national sensation, and even today, over a century later, the story remains one of Devon's most baffling mysteries.

It was the 9th February 1855, and heavy snow had fallen that night. When day broke, strange footprints were found criss-crossing the countryside, as if some mysterious visitor had been wandering around Devon during the night.

The cloven hoofprints were initially blamed on wandering farm animals. But it was soon realised, in a disturbing development, that the tracks were bipedal. Whatever the culprit was, it had walked on two legs.

The prints were followed. They ranged for nearly a hundred miles, from Exmouth to Dawlish. They walked up to doors and windows, as if searching for a way in, before turning away. They approached walls and then continued on the far side, as if the creature had simply leapt over the obstruction. They climbed haystacks and wandered across rooftops. They stopped on the banks of the river Exe, and then continued on the far bank. Either the culprit had jumped the vast river, or it could walk on water.

The Devil was quickly blamed. Clergymen warned their flocks to be vigilant. More scientifically, the tracks were blamed on donkeys and badgers. Where they climbed  rooftops, woodmice were unconvincingly suggested. Although tracks in snow can melt around the edges and refreeze, giving the impression of a much larger creature passing by –  Yeti footprints in the Himalayas are explained this way – this theory certainly seems to be scraping the barrel rather.

Another explanation was that an experimental balloon had broken free of its moorings and its trailing ropes had caused the prints, although a balloon was never discovered nor its owners traced.  And anyway, a balloon at the mercy of the wind would move in a relatively straight line over long distances, not twist and turn at random, and the ropes would soon have snagged in trees and halted its rampage.

More recently, it has been suggested, based on similar cases in other parts of the world, that freak atmospheric conditions may have been the cause. Perhaps small pockets of energy, associated with surging storm clouds, periodically melted small patches of snow to give the impression of footprints.

But only one thing is known for sure. After a hundred and fifty years, we are still no closer to explaining the Devil's visit to Devon.

By Hannah

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Comments

An interesting story, one that I haven't heard before, so thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Ryewolf on 22/03/2015 11:53:00

 

Old Nick still takes the blame for many things....

Posted by: Strange Brew on 23/03/2015 14:29:00

 

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