Stormy Wastwater copyright Tony West

Ghosts and myths

The Lake District has its fair share of local ghosts and stories:

Spooky placenames

Can you spot these on a map?:

  • Boo Tarn near Coniston
  • Fangs Brow near Loweswater
  • Hell Gill near Crinkle Crags
  • Ravenglass on the west coast
  • Wolf Crags above Ullswater

Ghosts and myths

Styhead Pass, between Wasdale and Borrowdale

Bjorn, an outlaw from the thirteenth century, is said to haunt this area.

Wasdale Head

A ghostly galloping horse carrying a coffin is rumoured to be in this area.

St Herbert's Island, Derwentwater

Named after St Herbert, a priest who chose the island as a sanctuary for his devotions.

Long Meg and Her Daughters, Salkeld

One legend about this stone circle is that the stones are petrified people and if you count them correctly, they will come to life.

Luck of Muncaster

A glass cup was said to have been given to Sir John Pennington from Henry VI with the assurance "the family shall prosper so long as they preserve this cup unbroken".

Ghostly troops on Souther Fell

On the evening of Midsummer's Day 1745, a line of marching troops, cavalry and even carriages was seen travelling along the summit ridge for hours. 26 'sober and respected' witnesses later testified on oath to what they had seen. The next day Souther Fell was climbed and not a footprint was found on the soft ground of the ridge.

The only scientific explanation ever offered was that this was some bizarre mirage or reflection of Bonnie Prince Charlie's army that day exercising on the Scottish coast.

Moot Hall in Keswick

An article appeared in The News and Star on 8 March 2001 stating:  "Men working on a face lift for Gasworks Moot Hall have been spooked by a ghost in the tower. The first sighting was reported by a labourer sweeping up in the corner of the tower. He said the atmosphere went cold and when he looked around, he saw the dark shadow of a man disappearing through the wall. Then a colleague who had volunteered to go back up into the clock tower with him felt a hand on his back as he was descending the last flight of stairs."

Read more about Moot Hall, or visit it yourself as it houses our Keswick Information Centre.

Around Windermere

There have been many visitors to Windermere in history, not all of them earthbound!

The haunting of Calgarth Hall

This 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.

Gylpin's wild boar

In the 12th century a wild boar terrorised pilgrims who entered the woods between Kendal and Windermere. Richard de Gylpin killed the boar and was rewarded with the manor of Kentmere.

The Crier of Claife

On stormy nights centuries ago, the ferrymen at Ferry Nab would often hear strange calls for the boat to come across the water but were too afraid to go. One night a young ferryman scoffed at their fears and 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 local people asked a monk who lived on one of the islands in Windermere to exorcise the ghost. On Christmas Day he took a bell and bible across the lake, and confined the ghost to the quarry and woods "until men should walk dryshod across the lake".

To this day there are stories of walkers being followed by a hooded figure at dusk on the heights of Claife...

The white horse of Windermere

When harm is about to come to the neighbourhood around the lake, it is said a ghostly white horse walks on the water from shore to shore.

The mysterious Tizzie-Whizie

Photograph of the alleged Tizzie Wizzie

The Tizzie-Whizie was allegedly first spotted by a Bowness boatman around 1900. He regaled tourists in the town’s Stag’s Head Hotel about his thrilling encounter with the extraordinary creature.

Shy, water-loving creatures, Tizzie-Wizzies are reputed to have the body of a hedgehog, the tail of a squirrel or fox and a pair of bee-like wings.

From "A Boatman's Grandson": This one was captured in 1906, struggling and squealing, it was rushed to Louis Herbert's Photographic Studio, opposite St Martin's Church. Having calmed it down with some warm milk and morsels of ginger biscuit he took this immortal portrait of the Tizzie Whizie, before it jumped off his table and flew out of the window to regain its freedom.

It had a very faint cry, which could just be heard if you had your ear at water level. Many thousands of postcards were sold from this one photograph. The boatmen used to conduct Tizzie Whizie hunts and the evasive Tizzie Whizie would invariably finish under one of the piers and one of the tourists engaged in the hunt would be 'accidentally' pushed into the lake !

Sometimes the boatmen would say that it had escaped to Belle Isle and if any of the hunt followers wished they could be taken across the lake to look for it. When asked why they couldn't see it flying across the lake, the reply was 'because it was a very good underwater swimmer'.

One American visitor offered £5 reward for its capture, either dead or alive!


There have been repeated sightings of an unidentified creature in the southern end of Windermere.

Need holiday accommodation?

Cottage near Coniston - copyright Charlie Hedley

Booking here, supports here

We've cosy holiday cottages, quirky boutique hotels, friendly bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels.

Our commission helps keep the National Park special: Browse and book Lake District accommodation online