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Fairy Stories of the Peak District

There was a time when Irish and Cornishmen came to work in the Peak District, particularly down the old lead mines and it is thought they probably brought some fairy stories with them. A sailor brought with him the Legend Of The Easter Mermaid, the darkly mysterious Mermaid Pool, a long walk onto Kinder Scout and a long way from anywhere. The legend claims that the pool is linked to the distant Atlantic Ocean and the water isn't fit for animals to drink but it does invite visits from a mythical mermaid. She has a gift to grant long life to anyone who seeks out but only at midnight on Easter eve. One old Peaklander used to pay regular Easter visits to visit the lonely spot and he lived to be 104 years old. There is a twist in the fishy tale, though, because instead of giving long life, the KInder mermaid is just as likely to pull you down into her watery grave, never to be seen again.

There was once a lead minor who found a tiny clay pipe on Brassington moor. As soon as he tucked the pipe into his waistcoat pocket, he felt a very prickly feeling down the side of his body. He moved to put it in different pockets that the prickly feeling moved along with it. So he put it in his outer pocket and the cloth started to smoulder and the pipe simply disappeared.

Another miner once found a magic pipe and lit it, but very soon noticed fairies in the smoke, flying around like butterflies. They weren't happy fairies and started swarming around the smoker's head, biting, pinching and scratching him and then they started stabbing him with tiny darts. In his agony, he let the pipe full to the ground and the fairies picked it up and flew off with it.

A man who took up a small clay pipe in his cottage garden, suddenly found it was guarded by one of the little people, the tiny wizened old man dressed in green was sitting on the stem of the pipe and he jumped onto the ball and glared at the gardener, before vanishing into thin air and whisking the pipe away from him.

On Harthill Moor, there is a stone circle and by tradition fairy folk are said to gather all the full moon, coming to dance and play their musical pipes and wander in pairs through the bracken. Not so many years ago, a farmer from Chelmorton knew a man who had caught a fairy dancing by moonlight but it screeched so loudly, he let it go.

The Peak District has more than one Hob Hurst house. Hob is a mythological Celtic giant and according to Peak District law, he helps on a farm, especially in the dairy. He helps by making the butter churn easily and can make cows give extra milk and there are reports of him doing the work of 10 men overnight. 'It is for the farmers rewarding with a bowl of cream and a farmer who crosses the giant will never do well,' so the saying goes.Witches are also a big feature in Peak District fairy stories. People used to carry twigs of the magical rowan tree as a charm against witchcraft. Two women were executed in Bakewell as witches in 1608. They were blamed for several deaths in the 18th century. A coalminer's wife was said to have fed, entertained and rewarded evil and wicked spirits and she was accused of using dark powers on Ellen Cooper ', whereby she languished and in eight days died. 'The second, was Ellen Boston and she was accused of killing four people by sorcery.

According to a strange old tale about Bradwell, the presence of a wizard was used to help exorcise a ghost and the story goes that sometime in the distant past, the body of a young girl was found beneath the staircase of a local house. She had almost certainly been murdered in the village began to be terrorised by nightly appearances of her ghost. An eccentric character said to possess strange influences, could even control the planets or so it was rumoured, willingly entered the haunted house with an assortment of paraphernalia. Surrounded by a nervous crowd, he knelt inside a chalk circle and concentrated so hard that perspiration poured down his face. All of a sudden the floor moved up and down several times and the exorcist got to his feet calling 'arise arise I command thee.' The spirit materialised and was immediately ordered to transform itself into a fish and make its home in the mouth of Lumb Brook. In addition to this fishy tale, each Christmas Eve, the fish was to transform itself into a bird in flight to Lumbly Pool. From this time on, there have been no more appearances of the tragic ghost.