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Dark & Lonely Water

This lonely stretch of water on the Staffordshire Moorlands is known as Blakemere Pool, or more accurately "The Black Mere". It was once twice as large as it is now and it's the focus for an amazing amount of dark history and folklore.

In 1679 a travelling pedlar was discovered in the pool, the victim of a serial killer who was never caught. Cattle refused to drink there, and birds never flew over the water.

Later on it was said that a young local woman, who had rejected the advances of a neighbour, was accused by the rebuffed young man of witchcraft. She was hauled to the Black Mere and subjected to the "swimming" ordeal where she "passed" the test by sinking down into the dark water. Instead of being hauled out and declared innocent though, the man insisted on repeated submersions, going so far as to physically shove her back down himself.

The poor woman was drowning, but with her last breaths she cursed the man, swearing that her spirit would live in the pool for evermore and return as a mermaid to kill him. A week later, the man was found dead in the shallows, his face and neck ripped by claw marks.

The monstrous mermaid returned during the 1800s when an attempt was made to drain the pool. Rising out of the depths, with mud and silt running off her body and hair, the mermaid threatened to flood the whole valley, including the town of Leek, if they did not stop immediately. They ceased, and a half-dug channel is still visible at one end of the pool today.

The nearby Doxeys Pool has a similar legend, being home to the monstrous Jenny Greenteeth, while 20 miles away at Mermaids Pool near Kinder Scout, a more benign mermaid is said to appear at Easter. This makes the Peak District the only place in Britain with its own freshwater mermaid mythology!

I will examine some of the witchcraft trials of the Midands in my upcoming book, and the Staffordshire and Derbyshire Peak District is explored in depth in my current books, available at

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