In Search of the Indefont Well.
I have heard references for many years concerning the Indefont Well usually when reading local books on the Staffordshire Moorlands. I have even been contacted by people who have been searching for this well asking for directions in the hope of finding it. On the 26th of May 2012 I had a few hours to kill in the afternoon so I decided to set about looking for this well. I didn’t have many clues to go on, I knew it was said to be in the Ipstones area in the Staffordshire Moorlands but unlike the Egg Well at Bradnop the Indefont Well isn’t shown on any maps.
I made my way to the town of Leek and then headed out on the Leek to Ashbourne road (A523), after a few miles I came to a crossroads at Bottomhouse, I turned right here onto Bottom lane which after a few miles took me to the small village of Ipstones. I parked outside the local Londis shop and went inside and asked for directions to the well, unfortunately they had never heard of it and although they sold local books on the area which they kindly checked for me they were unable to find any mention of the well.
Not about to admit defeat I wandered around the village asking various people who unsuprisingly had never heard of it either, however just as I was about to give up I came across two elderley people talking, they said they had heard of the Indefont but not a well. They told me to follow the road alongside the shop which would take me past St Leonard’s church, the road winds around the church until after about half a mile you come to a road on your right hand side called Clerks Bank, I was told to follow this until the road comes to a dead end and turns into what one could describe as a muddy bridle path. I followed these directions then when I reached the top of Clerk’s Bank I asked someone in their garden at the side of the road, they told me that there was a well at the bottom of the the Indefont so I knew that I was on the right track.
I came to realise that as I followed this bridle path down into the valley that this area or pathway is the actual Indefont, when I reached the bottom of the valley I found not a well but a water source which seemed to flow from further along the valley. I decided to follow the small stream in the hope that it would take me to a well of some description.
The stream was to difficult to follow due to the thickness of the undergrowth which meant I had to follow a different route which took me through what appeared to be a pair of ancient stone pillars which I assume gives access between the fields yet stops any livestock escaping.
I returned to the bottom of the valley and continued following the stream which had now become nothing more than a trickle, I did my best to fight my way through the ever increasing undergrowth and woods.
Eventually the stream stopped flowing probably due to the drought conditions so I carried on following the dried up stream bed, however after about 2 miles I came to the conclusion that there is no well at the Indefont which seems to be supported by the locals lack of knowledge regarding it.
Although there does not seem to be a well at the Indefont there does seem to be something here which attracts a phantom black dog. There has been sightings of this phantom beast which has large red glowing eyes at the Egg Well at Bradnop and it is also said to guard the Jacobite graves behind Oxehay farm. As there doesn’t seem to be a well at the Indefont one has to ask what is attracting this phantom beast to this location, I tend to be of the opinion that there is an undiscovered grave or graves which it may be guarding and this is the reason for the occasional sightings which have taken place.
Rather than retracing the difficult steps I had taken while following the stream I decided to return to the Indefont by a different route. I found a curious wood which appeared to be surrounded by a dry stone wall, in this wood I came across strange boulders which seemed to have been arranged for a specific purpose. Perhaps it is in this wood that graves may be found and perhaps it is this location where the Black Dog has been seen.
Although I was unable to find the well which I had set out to do, I still had a sense of satisfaction that I had found the Indefont and was able to experience what it was like to visit this unique place that seems to be virtually unknown even by people living in nearby Ipstones. When I visited it, it was a beautiful sunny day, however what it would by like on an overcast day or when it starts getting dark is any ones guess especially if your mind starts working overtime in the belief that a black dog haunts this location!
The bottom of the Indefont where the water source and a standing stone or boundary marker can be found.
I returned to the Indefont on the 4th of June 2012 in the hope of finding more information regarding the Indefont well. This time I decided to call at Clerk Bank farm to see whether the farmer there knows more than I do. As luck would have it the owner of the farm an elderly gentleman owns the land which leads down to and ajoins the Indefont, after explaining my quest he told me that he had also been searching for the well. I then thought if he can’t find it and he owns the land leading to it what chance do I have of finding it!
However he did go on to say that his father had previously used the well to water his horses when he had been alive, he said that the well is now overgrown and near a stone wall, it was not at the end of the stream which I had previously followed. It is my intention to return at a later date as I now know roughly the whereabouts of the well and I think that I now have a better chance of finding it.
I returned yet again to the Indefont around mid-day on the 6th of June 2012 in the hope of finding the well. This time I was more optimistic as I had a better idea of where to look. I set off down into the valley after parking at the top of Clerks Bank, I knew by now that the well must be somewhere close to the bottom of the Indefont and near to the stream which is piped beneath the bridleway. After searching amongst the thick undergrowth for around thirty minutes I suddenly noticed a small pool of water almost hidden by the dense plant life growing all around.
I found a stout stick and set about using it to clear the years of growth which had hidden the well for so long. After a few minutes the cleared growth revealed numerous stones which formed the walls of the well which had not seen the light of day for many many years.
I left the Indefont pleased that I had finally located the well and perhaps a little smug in the knowledge that I had found something that even the locals were unaware of. However in a month or so the vegetation will have covered the well once more hiding it from prying eyes for maybe another generation. The only people aware of its existence will be myself and whoever decides to read this web page. The elusive Indefont well will vanish from sight waiting for the time when it will be rediscovered once more.