Derby is often referred to as the UK’s most haunted city. But with around 555 square miles of countryside, the Peak District has its fair share of ghostly goings-on. From burning ghost plans and haunted castles to a ghostly plague village and strange figures floating across a valley, there are plenty of terrifying tales.
There are some tragic stories to be told across the Peak District, with many of them resulting in their own unique ghost stories. Haunted castles, villages and even a reservoir all have their own spectres and spooks.
So, if you are seeking the thrill of a good scare, here are some of the ghost stories that the Peak District has to offer. Read on if your dare…
Having stood strong for more than 400 years, Bolsover Castle has welcomed Earls and Dukes throughout its vast history. Added to that list is the inhabitance of a few ghouls that have been spotted by multiple members of staff at the English Heritage site, which was built on an ancient burial ground and nestled on the outskirts of Chesterfield, once dubbed the “satanic capital of Britain”.
In fact, Bolsover Castle topped the list in a recent poll aiming to find 10 of the “spookiest” of English Heritage’s 400-plus historic monuments. Staff and visitors have reported hearing footsteps, screams, and have even reported being pushed.
Multiple staff members have even claimed that “the ghost of a boy was holding visitors’ hands”. All this has led to the staff keeping a “ghost book” in which they log all supernatural sightings due to the vast number of cases.
In 1665, Eyam Village was all but wiped out as the bubonic plague ripped it apart. For more than 14 months the people of the small village suffered as their numbers dropped. Many sightings have been reported by Eyam’s inhabitants over the years, inspiring daily ghost tours in the village.
One of the local ghosts is Sarah Mills, a servant who tragically drowned in a nearby well lived in Eyam Hall. The hall is also known for housing the ghost of an unknown old man who has been seen staring from an upstairs room. Both are said to have been seen wandering the grounds of Eyam Hall at night.
The Miner’s Arms Hotel is also reputed to be haunted by two young girls who died in a fire on the site before it was built. One of the hotel’s former landladies is also thought to haunt the building after she was murdered by her husband.
When driving along Castleton’s Winnats Pass, usually on the way to Manchester, you are consumed by the vast rock formations and the area’s truly unique aesthetic. But the beauty of the area only hides the dark history of Winnats Pass, particularly the curse of lovers Alan and Clara, whose tragic tale has been folklore around the area for centuries.
In 1758, the two recently betrothed lovers were forced to run away from their homes in search of a new life with each other due to their family’s disapproval. They left with £200 (equal to £35,000 in modern-day money) and passed through Stoney Middleton and Castleton on their voyage in search of greener grass before they were noticed by five miners, who plotted to follow them throughout the night.
Not long after the couple had made it to the gates of Winnats Pass they were ambushed by the five men who tore them from their horses, beat them to death and stole their hard-earned fortune. Their bodies were hidden in a nearby mineshaft for 10 years as the culprits escaped capture, but they did not remain unpunished for their savage crimes.
Two of the miners died around Winnats Pass in the years following the crime, one man fell off a nearby cliff, while another was hit and killed by a falling rock. A third committed suicide before the fourth minor went “mad”.
The final man was said to be so riddled with guilt it plagued his life. He later confessed the details of the whole crime when he was on his death bed some years later. He had rumoured to have bought disease-ridden horses which proved to be a bad investment, and possibly, another act in the curse left by the murder of Alan and Clara.
Screams and eerie sightings, as well as dark figures, have been seen around Winnats Pass, not far from where Alan and Clara are buried, in St. Edmund’s Church, Castleton.
Littered with history and surrounded by an eerily vast landscape, it is no surprise that Ladybower Reservoir has attracted its fair share of paranormal reports over the last century. The Peak District reservoir was home to much air force testing throughout the Second World War and there are numerous plane wrecks in the vicinity mostly due to bad weather/visibility.
Sightings of so-called “ghost-planes” have been likened to a Lancaster Bomber which crashed in May 1945, killing all six crew on board. Residents in the surrounding area have alleged to have seen a burning Lancaster Bomber falling from the sky many years after the war – with no evidence of a crash ever being found to this day.
Although it seems unlikely to stumble across a burning ghost plane nowadays, it is worth noting that these sightings were reported as recently as 2017.
Longendale Valley and The Devil’s Elbow
In the north of the Peak District near Glossop’s border lies the vast Longendale Valley stretching more than 10 miles, nestled at the bottom of the bleak Bleaklow and the looming Shining Clough. The area has been home to many sightings in the past 80 years, with rumours of unexplainable sightings being consistent since the Second World War.
The area has had more UFO reports than anywhere in the Peak District as locals describe seeing flashing lights and dark figures floating across the moors. The reports of these unexplained lights, as well as the lack of side roads and civilisation, adds to the desolate atmosphere in the valley.
The Devil’s Elbow, a sharp bend in the road near Woodhead on the B6105, is another spot which has been accused of attracting strange lights at night. The Devil’s elbow itself has a strong legend attached to it, with the site apparently being the meeting place of a couple, whose father was against their union.
It is said that he told them he would rather let the devil take my daughter than have them meet again. Following this, sometime down the line, the couple were chased across the moor, terrified of what figure chased them. They described the horror as the devil, who was there to claim his prize.
As the devil reached his arm out for the couple it is said that a cry echoed around the moor, freezing the Devil to stone on the spot, thus creating the Devil’s Elbow. It is rumoured to this day that strange figures have been seen shifting across the brim of the valley, adding to the bleak surrounding environment and disturbing locals.
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