Spirithole Woods & the Horsley Stone
A strange valley can be found off the A523 Leek to Ashbourne road between Bradnop and Ipstones, in this valley can be found a stream known as the Coombes brook which winds its way down through a wood known as Spirithole wood.
This wood is now a nature reserve managed by the R.S.P.B and it has a strange tale as well as a strange atmosphere attached to it! In an area of the valley known as the Devils hole with the Coombes brook still running through it, can be found a large rock which is split in two, this is known as the Horsley Stone and the story attached to it is as follows; Many years ago there were two brothers whose surname was Horsley, one was a Doctor and the other one was a Lawyer, both men fell in love with their Housekeeper, and when their Mother died the Doctor decided that he would poison his Brother, thus allowing him to have the Housekeeper to himself. According to one account the Doctor put his Brother’s body in the stream and rolled a large boulder on top of it to conceal it, another account states that the body was burnt in an oven, however the one thing that local people were sure of is that the Brother’s spirit refused to rest and that it roamed the area scaring people.
The Coombes brook
It was not until twelve clergymen prayed long and hard at the spot where the murder took place that the man’s spirit was said to have been laid to rest in the form of a bird! It must have been a terrifying ordeal as all but one of the clergymen were said to have fled the area. Many elderly people who live in the area close to Spirithole woods claim to have heard the birds haunting song which can sometimes be heard at the close of the day.
The Horsley Stone