In collaboration with local horror writer Darcus Wolfson, we’ve picked out 6 of Buxton’s most spooky places – with a somewhat interesting and unusual history and some with strories of strange going’s on. Interestingly, given that Buxton dates back to Roman times and a town that has seen visitors such a rich and varied past over the centuries and once being a leading spa tourism destination in the Victorian era, Buxton offers little in the way of actual reports of ghostly sightings and hauntings.
1) St. Anne’s Churchyard, Bath Road
There are a few contenders for the most atmospheric churchyard in Buxton but the crooked gravestones of St. Anne’s give it the edge. The most famous permanent tenant is eighteenth-century actor John Kane who allegedly ate himself to death (he accidently consumed hemlock instead of horseradish); a gruesome Halloween fact in itself! The church itself is one of the town’s oldest standing buildings and both interior and exterior are fascinating sights to behold. If you are visiting Buxton, nearby bookshop Scriveners is also well worth a look. It once made The Guardian’s list of the best second-hand bookshops in the country and is reputed to have its own ghost.
2) Poole’s Cavern, Green Lane
This journey into the huge limestone caves beneath the earth is the obvious choice for spooky Buxton. Despite the cold and the gloom, there is a splendid guided tour along illuminated walkways and some of the cave formations could be considered beautiful. Infact, far from being shunned, the caves have been a refuge for various people over time; most famously the eponymous outlaw named Poole. The adjacent Grinlow Woods has had its fair share of extremely weird goings-on, as reported by Darcus Wolfson here.
3) Former Devonhsire Royal Hospital Radio Studio – Now University of Derby
The spectacular dome and its surrounding buildings are now home to the University of Derby but it used to be the Devonshire Royal Hospital until its closure in 2000. There have been numerous reports of strange sightings and peculiar ‘feelings’ from its time as a hospital. The hospital radio studio, which was located underground, delivered radio shows throughout each day to patients. A former DJ told us that his colleague had to visit the studio alone on one particular occasion. The room was accessed by a long dark corridor with the light switch at the other end which meant having to enter the darkness to reach the switch. As he passed along the corridor, he felt someone or something brush past him but could not see an outline of a person. He ran to the light switch and no one was there. He said he felt very frightened and knew that no one else was there that day. He had a feeling that it was something not of this world. Needless to say, he never visited the studio alone again.
4) Hoffman Quarry, Harpur Hill
The blackened cliffs of this disused quarry overlook the town like brooding giants. Long since abandoned by the limestone industry, this rocky realm resembles a set from Lord of the Rings. Oddly silent except for the occasional siren heralding the dull boom of a controlled explosion from the nearby Health and Safety Lab, the quarry has ironically become a wildlife sanctuary. Its most well-known feature is the so-called Blue Lagoon. Despite its deluxe nickname, the Lagoon is little more than a pool of chemical soup that found its way into national news in recent years when it became a diving spot favoured by brainless teenagers. The site is now fringed with fences and signs, alerting would-be trespassers to the danger.
5) The Wonders of the Peak, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Road
Built in 1988, the Wonders of the Peak is a wonderfully old-fashioned museum display. To enter its dark twisting corridors requires a measure of courage and finding your way towards the exit requires a little more. There are a few alarming surprises waiting for you amongst the dusty bones and fossils. Chief amongst them is a roaring cave bear guaranteed to reduce any child under six to tears. A more subtle scare can be found in the Victorian cabinet of curiosities where the truly hideous creature called The Mermaid resides. Experience it before they modernise it at the start of 2016!
6) Skelebob Wood, Fairfield
Occupying another lofty position on the edge of Buxton is the Bronze Age burial mound of Fairfield Low, more commonly known as Skeleton Wood or Skellybob Wood. To find out exactly why it is one of the spookiest places in Buxton, join local horror writer Darcus Wolfson on his own blog.
Caveat: There is no public access to Hoffman Quarry or Fairfield Low. Explore Buxton does not endorse trespass and recommends that you obtain permission before visiting either place.