Sightings of a mystery woman living rough in the woods have sparked fears for her safety as the winter closes in.
She has been spotted roaming through the undergrowth in Wendover Woods, and has been known to forage for food in the bins outside the cafe.
She is described as between 5ft 3in and 5ft 4in, in her mid 50s, with long, scraggy grey hair and wearing a long, ripped mac, cagoule-type trousers – also ripped – and black bin bags on her feet.
Jon Warbrick, who owns Cafe in the Woods, said his first experience of meeting her was the winter before last, when the temperatures were plummeting below freezing every night.
He said: “One of the men who sells Christmas trees up here went to put a bag in the wheelie bin and heard a woman’s voice say ‘ouch, that hurt’.”
Jon and his staff began to leave out hot drinks for her as well as thick jumpers and pairs of shoes.
Jon, who lives with his wife Amy and two children, said: “We thought it was the only way we could keep her alive. It’s desperately sad.”
After several more sightings from customers, Jon decided to follow her one day with the intention of convincing her to seek help.
He said: “I followed her into the woods for about four miles, but when I was talking to her it became clear that she was not of sound mind any more.
“She had a soft Celtic accent – it could have been Scottish or Irish – and she was rattling off religious ramblings and saying that she was supposed to be there, and that she had seen the signs.
“I could see that I wasn’t going to get through to her, but I was completely lost.
“I asked her to lead me back to the cafe and she stopped in her tracks and told me the way to go – which tree to turn right at and so on. It was a really odd experience.”
Jon said he last saw the woman just days ago, as he was driving down Hale Lane on the outskirts of Wendover.
He said: “I’m almost positive it was her. She had a couple of plastic bags with her, and it looked like she had the world on her shoulders.”
Forestry Commission workers have been out searching for the woman and came across her makeshift camp, but she was no where to be seen.
Beat forester Jo Mason said: “We removed the litter and other paraphernalia from the camp but did not see the lady herself.
“We have tried to communicate with her to give her information about the nearest shelter. We offered her taxi money, but she didn’t appear to want help and since then has avoided contact with any staff.”
Aylesbury Homeless Action Group’s operations director David Dickason said: “I know my colleague Karen Warner has contacted the cafe and given general advice and information about The Hub.
“But unless she comes to us for help, we cannot force her.
“If she decides that she needs us, we are here to help.”
Since Wednesday’s Bucks Herald front page story, people have come forward wanting to leave food and clothing parcels near the Cafe in the Woods.
If you would like to help, contact the cafe on 01296 620294.
Have you seen the woman living wild in the woods? Contact email@example.com