Creepy car­tog­ra­phy

When your map reads like a schlock-hor­ror script...

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

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 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.

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