The Peak District is devoid of naturally formed lakes and pools (the latter can be called tarns if you must but this term is more akin to those found in the Lake District). There are absolutely zero naturally formed lakes and I can only think of three named pools. There is mermaid’s pool on the western flanks of Kinder Scout and the other two are within a stone’s throw of each other, one of which is Blake Mere.
In the Staffordshire Moorlands lies Doxey’s Pool high up on the Roaches and Blake Mere up on Morridge Moor, a moor that overlooks the Roaches. Strange then that both pools have a mythical story attached to them. In this blog we will be concentrating on Blake Mere AKA Mermaids Pool.
As I have already mentioned, this pool is in the Staffordshire Moorlands near Leek. If you take the A53 from Buxton to Leek, turn left after the Mermaids Inn and follow the road until you come to a junction to your left and railings to your right. The pool (or mere) is in the dip below the railings.
Shaped like a teardrop with a gently rising slope on all sides this little place really funnels the wind, on two of the four occasions I have visited it has been so windy I have been able to stand leaning down the hill with no issues! It is a place however with huge charm. Generally speaking I’m not a fan of locations where you can just get out of the car and take a picture. However, part of the charm here lies in the fact you’re looking at a very well kept secret of one of the only pools in the Peak District. The second part of the charm is the amazing views you get, you can pick out Shutlingsloe, The Roaches, Hen Cloud, Ramshaw Rocks, The Cheshire Plain, most of Staffordshire and half of the White Peak behind. On a clear day it is possible to see the Berwyn’s and The Wreckin.
Like I said previously, there is a little myth also attached to this location – how much you choose to believe is up to you!
It is said that the dark peat-stained waters of the pool are bottomless. They say cattle refuse to drink from the pool and birds will not fly above it. Over the years it has been the scene of a number of drowning and even a murder when, in 1679, a woman pedlar was dumped in the pool by a local serial killer. Legend says that the mermaid that haunts the pool only rises at midnight to catch its victims, her victims are only single men. There are various legends concerning the origin of the mermaid. In one, a sailor from nearby Thorncliff fell in love with her and brought her back from sea, and in another she was originally a witch who transformed herself into a water nymph after been thrown into the pool during the Middle Ages.
Fortunately when I visited it was no where near mid-night. Instead I had the pleasure of visiting on a still summers evening, a show that seems to be rare at the moment with all the rain we have had.
My first image shows the wide view of the scene, the hillside catching the late golden hour sun with views down to Hen Cloud and over Staffordshire while the calm waters of Blake Mere reflects the sky like a mirror:
My final image is a more abstract view of the pool and its surroundings, with grasses being lit up giving them plenty of texture and the only true hint of sky shown in the pool: