The road between Burford, Oxfordshire and Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire, is high up in the Cotswolds and was historically renowned for sudden blizzards. A group of 19th century soldiers perished on this road, freezing to death one awful fateful day.
This folklore tale is about this road and also the large forests that once dwelled there. These forests were haunted by spirits that were known as The Snow Foresters. No-one wanted to be on this road when the weather turned snowy as if they did, the Snow Foresters would wreak havoc with them, leading them to certain death.
It was on Christmas Eve that a travelling family found themselves on this road. A wrong turn had been taken and the light snowfall had turned heavy and unrelenting, this is where they found themselves when darkness fell. They pulled over onto the edge of the forest and tied their horse securely to the caravan, and the family stayed inside it and ate a small spot of supper, whilst trying to keep warm. There were strange noises coming from outside; tapping on the windows, the squeal of the horse, as though she had been pinched and something trying to push the caravan. All these noises were above the noise of the snowstorm winds.
As Christmas Eve moved into Christmas Day, a silence descended upon the caravan, and it was from this that a new noise was heard, a tiny meowing sound. One of the small children ran to the door when hearing this. The father told them not to open the door as this could be the Snow Foresters tricking them! The child had already opened the door before the father could finish his sentence!
A small white kitten came through the door amidst some snowflakes that were blown through the open doorway. The mother shrieked to see this tiny kitten, exclaiming for the kitten to be thrown back outside. The child ignored his mother and went to pick up the kitten, who was gently meowing. The father said they couldn’t turn out this poor wee kitten as it seemed as lost as they did. The family gathered up some food and milk as the kitten seemed hungry. It ate and drank what it was offered, and it sat down by the lit candle, giving a contented purring noise as it did so. The father upon looking upon this small bundle of fur then remembered that on Christmas Day, animals could use human speech but only if you asked them in rhyme.
All the family gathered round the white kitten and the father spoke “Kit cat, tell us that”. The family only had to wait for several seconds when the kitten replied “Listen to the church bells, listen for the birds. Follow them and you’ll find safety”. The family were amazed at hearing the kitten talk, when they then heard a flock of birds flying over their caravan. They wasted no time in getting back on the road. to follow many flocks of noisy birds that seem to be directing the family.
Soon they found themselves at a farmhouse, which had candle lights in the windows, so they made their way up to the track. As they did, they heard the sound of church bells ringing from the local church. They were in the village of Stow-on-the Wold. The farmer greeted them warmly and gave them the space to set up with all their worldly goods. The family felt safe and welcomed. The children looked for the white kitten but as mysteriously as she had turned up, she had disappeared into thin air!
The family never forgot the help they received in their hour of need from this tiny white kitten on Christmas Day.