The Wishing Tree – Dovedale valley.
A strange spectacle greets people as they enter the Dovedale valley, as about 500 yards from the famous Stepping Stones and on the right hand side of the path can be found part of an old tree. Nothing unusual in that, but if you look closer you can find hundreds of coins which have been embedded in it over the years by people visiting this famous tourist spot.
This tree is not the only wishing tree to be found in the UK as they can be found from the Peak District all the way up to the Scottish Highlands. People hammer these coins into the tree trunk in the hope of attracting good fortune, they probably do not realise that this is a custom that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years. In the past it was believed that divine spirits inhabited trees and the custom of hammering coins into the trunk harks back to this practice of making offerings to the tree spirits. This custom is probably what killed the tree which at one time was located next to St Bertram’s Well on the Bunsters overlooking Ilam, a short way from Dovedale. The people who visted the healing waters of this spring would hammer coins into the trunk of the tree which used to grow next to it. Unfortunately the copper content in the coins slowly poisoned the tree and it died. When I first visited the spring around 12 years ago there were still remains of the tree, and I managed to salvage a small piece of it, today no trace of the tree can be found.
Legend has it that if a sick person hammers a coin into the tree they will get better and also have good luck, however do not be tempted to remove any coins as their illness can be transferred to you and you will also experience bad luck, you have been duly warned!