In such ancient lands, you can always expect the air to be filled with the whispers of generations past and centuries gone by.
The hills, valleys, and villages of the Peak District are alive with legends, myths and fairy tales; they live in harmony alongside everyday modern life and we would love to explore them here and uncover the long-lost secrets of this magical place.
Wild and Untamed
The landscape in the Peak District has been shaped by mother nature over millions of years, carving plateaus, limestone valleys, caves, heather moorland, bogs and much more. It is a rugged wilderness that has evolved over millions of years and accrued so much history.
A thousand years ago and in the centuries after, the higher parts of the Peak District were locally known as the untamed area of Derbyshire due to its ‘wild’ inhabitants. This was a time when pagan rituals were commonplace and when brigands, highwaymen, and gypsies roamed the lands, living wild, making the area a dangerous place for travelers to pass through.
The Dark Peak is now known as a ghostly place, though extremely beautiful and popular with hikers. Some say it’s haunted by the many ghosts of those whose lives were lost on the desolate moorland over the course of many centuries.
One of the most famous folk tales involving the Peak District is, of course, the legend of Robin Hood, his Merry Men and their nemesis the Sherriff of Nottingham. The latter had jurisdiction in Derbyshire, known as the Shire of the Deer.
There is a place in the Peak District, called Robin Hood’s Stride, a rock formation near the village of Elton. Made of gritstone rocks, this formation owes its name to a local legend that states that the distance between the pinnacles on each side of the rock formation was the length of Robin Hood’s stride. This is, of course, impossible as the length is 15 metres, so unless Robin Hood was a giant, it could not be the length of a human man’s stride.
Perhaps his height in the legend’s eyes is equal to the admiration felt by the poor he looked after.
Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to feed the poor, has been present in English folklore since the 13th century. He went on to become a famous figure in films, theatre, literature, poetry, and art, thus making him one of the most famous English legends of all time.
This sad story is about heartbroken Hannah Badderley of Stoney Middleton, who threw herself off the cliffs of Middleton Dale in 1762.
She survived the attempt however due to her petticoats ballooning out and acting as a parachute, saving her from death and allowing her to escape with a few cuts and bruises.
She sadly died two years later, unaware that her story would become a local legend, remembered and retold centuries later.
The Legend of the Easter Mermaid and the Mermaid Pool
Up on Kinder Scout, a moorland plateau in the Dark Peak, you will find a small, mysterious pool of water.
The pool is meant to be the home of a mythical mermaid who will appear to you if you visit the pool at midnight on Easter Sunday. The legend claims that the pool is linked to the faraway Atlantic Ocean by deep underground tunnels which is why the water is salty.
People believed that if the Kinder mermaid appeared on Easter Sunday, she would grant you a long life. One local man visited the pool every Easter Sunday and lived until he was 104 years old.
Another part of the legend states that she can just as much decide to drag you into her pool if she chooses to. Which is explained by another story about her, where a local lad who fell in love with the mermaid fell into the pool and wasn’t seen again.
The Dancing Fairy Folk of the Nine Stones Close Stone Circle
Despite its name, only four stones remain standing today. This magical stone circle dates back to the Bronze Age and used to be known as the Grey Ladies. Legend has it that the fairy folk gather at the stones at every full moon to dance.
In another version of the story, a 19th century local farmworker found a clay pipe at the stones and when he smoked it, he saw inside the stone a secret world where the fairy folk lived.
Other legends state that the stones themselves dance at midnight or at noon (some historians have suggested that ‘nine’ had actually been ‘noon’ but corrupted to nine as the language evolved) and the spot was used by witches and pagans for centuries as a sacred spot for rituals, celebrations, and gatherings.
Today it is considered a spiritual place frequently visited by pagan pilgrimages and is a favourite gathering spot for solstice celebrations.
Hob, the Helpful Farm Goblin
Folklore tales of mythological household sprites have existed in almost every part of the world, since storytelling began. The belief in these sprites and fairies was extremely common up until the last few centuries, when science took precedent and folklore tales became stories told to children to keep them well-behaved.
Most household and land sprites help with chores or simply guard homes and families with their magical presence.
In the olden days, most working people would believe in the existence of such goblins and sprites to the point where they would leave offerings for them in their homes, gardens, and farms to thank them for their work or keep them happy. This would usually be ale and porridge or bread.
In the Peak District, you will find several houses named Hob Hurst house – honouring the legend of the local hob, who was a very useful farm hand. They say he could do the work of ten men overnight and was a great help in churning the butter and making the cows produce more milk.
Hob was always left a bowl of cream as a thank you. They would say that if you offended Hob, you were in for an awful time!
And these are just a handful of the many legends and myths that haunt the Peak District to this day. Why not take a trip to this majestic land and discover its secrets for yourself?
We have three splendid Hallmark Hotels in Derby and each are within easy distance of the glorious Peak District National Park, where all the magic really happens.
Hallmark Hotel Derby Midland is full of character, housed in grade II listed Victorian building, and is just a 35-minute drive to the national park.
Hallmark Hotel Derby Mickleover Court is the perfect pied-a-terre for exploring the peaks, around an hour’s drive away. With its recently revamped leisure club (complete with pool, spa bath, sauna, steam-room, and more) and exceedingly popular Hallmark Grill provide the ideal break after a long day discovering the Peak District and its mythological past.
Hallmark Inn Derby provides a comfy spot for blissful night’s sleep right in the heart of Derby, just opposite our Hallmark Hotel Derby Midland where you can get a bite to eat after a day of exploring the nearby Peak District.
Save between 20% and 30% with our summer breaks package, celebrating the marvellous discovery of our Great Britain this summer!