Folklore, Myths and Legends in the Lake District...

The Lake District’s rich and interesting history stretches back thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that the area is rife with the odd folk tale and ghost story about myths and legends of time gone by.

Firstly, you must’ve heard of Bownessie? Over the years, there have been many sightings of an unidentified large creature swimming in the southern end of Windermere. Its ghostly neighbour is The White Horse of Windermere - legend has it that when harm is about to come to the area around the lake, a ghostly white horse walks on the water from shore to shore.

Then there’s the tale of the Crier of Claife. Hundreds of years ago, the ferrymen at Ferry Nab would often hear strange calls for the boat to come across the water but were too scared to go. Then one night, a young ferryman rowed across. On his return whatever he had seen had terrified him so much that he couldn't speak, and the next day he died.

The ghost was believed to be the spirit of a monk whose role was to save the souls of 'fallen' women. Rumour has it that he fell in love with one of the women but was rejected, causing him to go insane and he later died. The local people were so shocked after the young ferryman’s death that they asked a monk to exorcise the ghost. But the ghost might not have gone too far, as to this day there are stories of walkers being followed by a hooded figure on the heights of Claife.

If that hasn’t spooked you enough, then the haunting of Calgarth Hall will surely make your spine tingle. The Lake District National Park website tells us that the sixteenth century manor house was owned by Kraster Cook and his wife Dorothy. Their neighbour was local Justice of the Peace, Myles Philipson who wanted to buy the house, but the Cooks didn't want to sell.

To get his hands on the property, Myles accused the Cooks of theft, judged them and condemned them to death. However before she died, Dorothy cursed Calgarth promising that their screaming skulls would haunt the Hall night and day until the Philipsons left and that the family would never prosper.
Two skulls did indeed take up residence in Calgarth, and despite many attempts to get rid of them, including throwing them into the lake, they always returned. Myles Philipson had to sell his land to pay off debts, leaving only Calgarth which his son sold after his death. The skulls never appeared again. And in 1705 the last member of the Philipson family died.
If we’ve missed out your favourite myth and legend of the Lake District, let us know - we’d love to hear some more.

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