There’s an eerie quiet you feel when you pause in the valley at SK 2068 7419. The hills around you – by day rolling grassy pastures – by night are cast into foreboding shadow and dark recesses full of sleepy hollows hiding things from sight.
If you stop and rest awhile at the junction where travellers have crossed this remote country for years, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that, from those dark, moonlit cast shadows, you’re being watched.
Many a hardy traveller has spoken of that same discomforting feeling at the spot, and many more have picked up the pace just a little to get out of the valley and off the hills into the cosy safety of nearby Stoney Middleton.
But not every traveller through the years has been so fortunate. For up in the hills and hiding in the shadows, those travellers were being watched…and perhaps still are today.
Crossed from west to east, north to south, this eerie spot was a busy highway and a favoured spot for Black Harry, who robbed unsuspecting traders on these very paths.
After years of terror in the hills, Harry was eventually caught at nearby Wardlow Cop and – in keeping with the punishment of the day – was hanged, drawn and quartered and displayed in a gibbet at Wardlow Mires, his decaying and rotting body picked at by the ravens and crows as a warning to others.
But Harry’s reign of terror didn’t end there.
Over the years since, terrified travellers have told tales of a shadowy rider on the paths around Black Harry Gate… a becloaked and mysterious man on horseback who appears as if from nowhere and is gone into the shadows just as silently…
So if you do stop at that spot for a rest, take heed. And that sound over your shoulder, the strange feeling you’re being watched from the shadows, the unshakeable fear that you’re being followed up out of the dark valley….don’t look back, for Black Harry may just have found his next victim…
Want to find out more about the folklore of the area? Take a look at the brilliant work of Stoney Middleton heritage. Fascinating local stories.