When your map reads like a schlock-horror script...
Welcome to ‘Murder Hole’!
THE FILM OPENS with a happy group of friends on a road trip. But soon the car breaks down at a lonely junction, they set off to the nearest house – tumbledown of course – for help, the scary music kicks in, and you know how the rest of this story unfolds. Well, some maps unfold with a similar frisson of terror. At first glance it’s all cosy villages and green woodlands and winding blue rivers but then your eye clocks words like Murder Hole. Bloody Mires. Big Scare.
The Murder Hole is named after a grisly spot where a woman and her son dumped the bodies of weary travellers they’d welcomed into their home and killed, although the one on the map, at the west tip of Loch Neldricken in Galloway, is not that place. Author S. R. Crockett relocated the story to this lonely – and wild and wonderful – spot beneath a hill called the Merrick in his novel The Raiders, where its said the hole’s water never freezes. The surrounding contours ooze with atmospheric names (and spine-tingling views): the Range of the Awful Hand, Nick of the Dungeon, Howe of the Caldron, Fang of the Merrick, Bog of the Gairy, Wolf Slock – and those Bloody Mires.
Galloway’s fright-names continue out to sea with the rocky island of Big Scare and its neighbouring trio of islets, the Little Scares. Walk the spectacular cliffs of the Mull of Galloway and you’ll see them on the briny horizon, kicked out into the waves like pebbles.
The map of Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales reads like a spookstory too, with its Boggarts Roaring Holes, Tatham Wife Hole, Quaking Pot and Black Shiver Moss. And while these two are intense clusters of hairraising nomenclature, scary titles can lead you to beautiful places all over Britain: crime and punishment at the cliffs of Great Hangman on Exmoor’s South West Coast Path, a brush with Beelzebub at Devil’s Dyke in Sussex, and a tangle with dark forces in Snowdonia’s Carneddau at Pen yr Helgi Du (head of the black hound) and Pen Llithrig y Wrach (head of the slippery witch). Walk these places and you’ll find both a spooky woohoo and a landscape wow.
MASTERS OF DECEIT Terrifying names disguise tempting places in the glens of Galloway ( top) and on the slopes of one of Yorkshire’s finest ( bottom). WALK HERE: Download routes at Merrick, Mull of Galloway, Ingleborough, Devil’s Dykeand Pen yr Helgi Du at www.lfto.com/ MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE MURDER HOLE! Yes, the back of this postcard carries festive wishes: make of that what you will! Note also Valentinesseries in bottom right. A WARY DISTANCE Soaking up the wilderness view across Loch Neldricken, without getting too close to that Murder Hole.