The Peak District is an area of England that has been shaped and carved by the forces of nature for millions of years. It is place of stunning and rugged, natural beauty with many strange and unexpected landscapes and places to discover. Its highest point is Kinder Scout, a moorland plateau some 2,088 feet (639 metres) above sea level.
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Humans have been active in the area for thousands of years and have also left their mark on the landscape. Mesolithic flint artifacts have been found and Neolithic earthworks and burial mounds. In the Bronze Age the area was believed to have maintained a fair sized population who made their living mainly through agriculture. There are many sites of archaeological and historic interest and many legends and folk tales associated with the area.
The pool and the waterfall
One such place is a bleak, dark and rather forbidding pool of water that lies below Kinder Scout known as the Mermaid’s Pool. Many people think the pool and the nearby waterfall of Kinder Downfall may have been places that were sacred to Celtic and earlier people who inhabited the area.
The waterfall is created where the river Kinder falls from the edge of the high moorland plain. On windy days the water sometimes appears as if it is flowing upwards.
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The Mermaid’s Pool is peculiar because it is said to be slightly salinated. It is said that fish cannot live in it or animals drink from it. According to local legend it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by an underground tunnel. It was also believed that the pool’s water possessed healing qualities for those who were courageous, or desperate enough to bathe in it. For these reasons it was believed to have been a sacred place for Celtic and earlier people who often took natural springs and lakes as places of reverence as the dwelling places of spirits. Sometimes and in some places they would place offerings into the waters hoping that the spirit or god would grant a wish.
The Mermaid’s Pool is believed to be the dwelling place of an immortal water nymph, or mermaid, who has the power to grant immortality. For unknown reasons many mermaid legends are associated with Easter and so is this one.
The most favoured time of year for her to grant this is on Easter Eve. But it is said she can generous or perilous on a whim. If she takes a liking to someone she will give them eternal life but if she takes a disliking she will drag them down into the depths of the pool, drowning them.
Local legend also says that by staring into the waters the mermaid may grant visions of future events, but may pull those who catch a glimpse of her to their death in the pool.
The nymph legend
There is a local legend in the nearby village of Hayfield that tells that a nymph lived inside Kinder Scout and would bathe daily in the pool. One day a local man caught her bathing and became friends with her. The nymph took him to a cavern where he is said to have stayed for some time. The man apparently impressed her to such an extent that as a reward she gave him the gift of immortality.
Relics of older times
It may be that these stories are relics from much older times when ancient people held such places as sacred before Christianity became the dominant religion.