Mystery Beasts of the Peak part two

In part one, I revealed sightings of big cats, phantom dogs, werewolves and …erm… wallabies in and around the Peak District. Think it couldn’t get any more disturbing? Think again!

Since my last post, a few people have got in touch to tell me about their own alarming encounters in Britain’s oldest national park. A lady called Gladys was shocked to read my account of a black panther sighting in King Sterndale because she had seen a similar creature near the same village around the same time. It seems that King Sterndale is the prime place to go beast spotting. Take a job lot of Felix with you.

lion skull front
Lion skull from Buxton Museum

Even more hair-raising was an account sent in by someone who got too close for comfort with a monstrous moggy twenty years ago. Witnesses usually glimpse these creatures from a distance in the countryside but this was a face-to-face encounter in suburbia. The person in question came home from school to find a huge sand-coloured cat “like a cougar or a lioness” relaxing in his garden. The RSPCA arrived later to remove the unwelcome visitor from the home of the family, who were understandably frightened and upset. He mentioned how odd it was that the men from the RSPCA seemed remarkably blasé about the incident, like it was something they were used to dealing with, and had very little to say. I contacted the RSPCA to discover what became of the creature but they replied to say they currently had no staff to consult their archives; two decades on and still suspiciously little to say on the matter.

When you start digging around, the Peak’s unknown menagerie gets even more flamboyant than panthers and lions. Local musician Kenny Robertson told me about a series of incidents when he was a young man in Buxton. It is a strange tale that ends with the most frightening beast that I have heard about so far.

Whilst walking around on a summer’s night in the mid-90s, Kenny and his friends were perturbed to hear a chorus of chanting from a disused quarry round the back of Lightwood and Corbar Road. Normally a quiet and respectable part of town, Kenny told me that he felt compelled to investigate the cacophony. However, every time he and his pals got close, the peculiar choir would cease chanting and play salsa music on a ghetto blaster, as if to mask their weird commotion.

Kenny
Kenny

Little did Kenny and his peers suspect that this was merely the start to a sequence of troubling events. Over the coming months, they would stumble upon the scene of three ritualised sheep killings in the same area. The first carcass had been torn open and filled with manure. Then they discovered three lambs hung and left to die on a barbed-wire fence and finally Kenny witnessed his neighbour cutting down another animal from a tree in his back garden.

Kenny’s upbringing was not as trouble free as you might expect from a peaceful town like Buxton. However, as I have already established, other people have stumbled across occult activity in these parts in the 1990s, including myself.

The sequence of gruesome discoveries came to a culmination at Lightwood reservoir. Kenny and his friends were shocked to see an unearthly creature running up an old track. It looked like a goat but it moved abnormally quick on two legs. Kenny suppressed a shudder as he recalled the scene; he can still picture the goatman silhouetted against a dusky sky. He told me that they didn’t have the courage to follow the fiend in the failing light but they returned the next day and found hoof marks in the mud, eventually disappearing into the tall grass.

lightwood
Lightwood

Could the group responsible for the ritual chanting and sheep mutilation have managed to summon a demon?

The Lightwood reservoir monster fits the archetypal image of The Devil or the Greek God Pan. A few local places have an established association with Satan. Peak Cavern in Castleton is also named The Devil’s Arse, due to its vast cave entrance where you can sometimes hear flatulent noises caused by water draining away inside. Eldon Hole near Peak Forest is the deepest pothole in the Peak and was once believed to descend all the way down into Hell. Both places are only a few miles apart and were thought to be linked underground but more recent explorations have yet to reveal a connection, nor the flaming abode of Beelzebub.

goat
Taking a stroll: Old Nick

I asked Kenny if he thought he had seen the Devil on that fateful night but he laughed and said “if it was Big D himself, I would have expected something a little more. It was probably a minion of some kind.”

Are there monsters in this part of the world? Not only is the answer yes but it actually seems overcrowded with horned, fanged and clawed villains. Prehistoric remains tell us that the Peak District was once the domain of bears, wolves and lions. Although it might be stretching your imagination too much to believe that these critters still linger, it is a scientific fact that they thrived here thousands of years ago. The last wolf in England was purportedly killed in the Peak village of Wormhill only as far back as the 15th century.

Wolf skull
Wolf skull from Buxton Museum

I wonder if there is part of the human psyche that still clings to the distant past; something in our DNA that echoes back to a time when having your throat torn out by a wild animal was a realistic threat? When you are walking out in the countryside and you see that dark shape dart away out of the corner of your eye, is there really something there or is it some funny old part of the brain still dealing with survival? I’m sure we have all experienced the irrational feeling of being watched. Although I never doubt anyone who has seen, heard or felt something peculiar, I am aware that the human brain has its own internal landscape designated “here be monsters.” Best not to be complacent; it might be a very long time since anyone was devoured by a beast of the Peak but can you be 100% sure there’s nothing out there?

chatsworth
Wolfson and the wolf at Chatsworth House

I currently have no material for a Mystery Beasts of the Peak part 3 but I would be very surprised if there are not a few more tales out there yet to be told. If you have an experience you would like to share, please get in touch.

D.W.

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Author: Darcus Wolfson

Darcus Wolfson is a writer who lives in the Peak District, England. Holding down several part-time jobs and equally strange hobbies. His inspiration comes from his brain. Either that or real-life trauma. Darcus published his book 'Hidden Places on Earth' on Amazon in 2013. Twelve tales of terror that may be connected, Hidden Places on Earth is a journey into the unknown: A small town journalist discovers a bizarre secret in the woods. A pirate joins the crew of a mysterious ship. A young girl goes missing in Sasquatch country. A LARP club get more than they bargain for. A young woman develops an infatuation with a statue. Vikings journey to Loch Ness in search of its monstrous occupant.

5 thoughts on “Mystery Beasts of the Peak part two”

  1. This is a great article and of interest to me following a recent visit to the Peak District.

    I am a regular visitor to the Peak District, with it not being to far from where I live. As a photographer it is a great place for me to capture the ever changing moods of its landscapes. It is also a good place to walk our dog, who is hyper and will be still running after four hours of walking. This was the case on Sunday 5th Feb 2017 when it had just got dark and we were completing a walk up over the top of Chatsworth and down past a farm on the country lane that leads to the B road that crosses a single track bridge near the garden centre at Chatsworth. It was about 17:45 and Storm our dog and I were walking ahead of the rest of the party when a rounded barrel shaped creature ran across the road in front of us. Storm tried to follow it into the trees, but luckily I had put him on the lead, as we where approaching a busy road. I have no idea what it was, as it was totally black in the dark. It was very light on its feet and sped across the road at lightning speed, making a skittering sound with its claws. It quite probably was a badger, but it seemed to big and rounded to be one to me. Have you ever heard of such a creature or any ideas what it coul be?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, David. I’m glad you enjoyed it. As you can see, lots of other people have glimpsed peculiar creatures in these parts so you’re not alone. I’m at a loss to speculate on the identity of your mystery beast but it is interesting to note that it was near Chatsworth; a place that keeps fast animals like deer or barrel-shaped animals like pigs. I don’t think either of those fit the bill though. You may have seen something extraordinary. I’ll get in touch with a friend of mine who works there and see if he can shed any light on the matter.

      Like

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