Historic Lake District

The Weird and Wonderful: The History and Folklore of the Lake District

If you’ve had the chance to browse some of our location pages for the Lake District, you’ll probably have already discovered the wealth of history within this land. From the Neolithic era that forged the region's dramatic landscape, to the more recent history of the mining industry that helped populate the Lakes, this region is teeming with local stories and history. It is very easy to find information on this version of the Lakes history, but it is less easy to find out about some of the folklore that has captivated the imagination of Lake District residents for centuries, so we turned to our local team to ask them more about some of the weird and wonderful tales of Lake District olde. 


You’ve probably heard of Nessie of Loch Ness, but have you heard of Bownessie? Bownessie is Windermere’s very own Nessie, a sea monster who is rumoured to lurk in the depths of Lake Windermere. There have been several “sightings” of the creature, the most recent in 2011 and 2014. Of course, the nature of these sightings has been dubious to say the least, but believers shouldn’t lose hope yet! Whether you’re a sceptic or not, keep one eye out for Bownessie on your visit to Windermere, you never know what you might see…

The Crier of Claife

The Crier is said to be the ghost of a monk from Furness Abbey in Medieval times, whose mission was the rescue of a fallen woman. He apparently fell in love with one who rejected him and he went mad, dying, crying his anguish on the heights of Claife, which his ghost has haunted ever since. On one occasion, the ferryman mistook his cry for a call, and he went out for his fare. When he returned, his hair had turned white and he never spoke again. Subsequently, the ghost was exorcised and his spirit confined to the Crier of Claife Quarry. Walkers have reported being followed by a hooded figure at dusk on the heights of Claif - a walk you should try if you’re feeling brave. 

The Haunting of Calgarth Hall

This sixteenth-century manor house was once owned by Kraster Cook, but the Local Justice of the Peace, Myles Phillipson had his eyes on the house, which the Cooks didn’t want to sell.
Desperate to take the house, Phillipson condemned the Cooks to death on a false accusation of theft, but before they died, Kraster’s wife Dorothy cursed Calgarth and promised that their screaming skulls would haunt the house night and day until Phillipson left. The skulls haunted the house day and night, despite many attempts to get rid of them. Phillipson eventually had to sell off the lands due to his debts and in 1705 the last member of the family died and the skulls have not been seen since. Nowadays, Calgarth Hall remains shut but you can still view the house. 

If the spooky side of history is your thing, be sure to add these mysterious locations to your list during your time in the Lakes. Always remember that we have a range of holiday cottages in the Lakes, some of them close-by to these eerie areas, but we promise that none of them are haunted (as far as we know…).