Local legends say
that fairies used to dance in the moonlight here and invite handsome young men
into their grottoes.
engine house of Saltom Pit, the first large-scale mine ever sunk below sea
level, sits at the base of Fairy Rock on the coast of Whitehaven. Fairy Rock is
slowly slipping toward the structure. This may be because the soft layer of
coal and shale beneath the heavy sandstone of Fairy Rock becomes slippery when
rainwater seeps into its cracks, causing the sandstone to break and tumble
downward. Or, it may be an act of revenge by fairies.
Local legends say that the grottoes in Fairy Rock were
once the homes of fairies that were human-sized but left no impression of feet
where they stepped or stood. They wore white robes and danced in the moonlight,
and were known to invite handsome young men to their dances.
According to a 17th-century legend, one such man pledged
everlasting devotion to a fairy, supposedly the Queen of the fairies, promising
to spend half his time in her world. The fairy said he must only come when the
moon was full, that she would guide him to the cove on such nights. This he
pledged as well.
When he tried to visit when there was no full moon, a deep
moan came from the sea and a terrible storm arose. He was killed, and it is
said that such a voice can still be heard as a storm approaches by those
standing on the part of the cove where his body washed ashore, the part where
he had made his vows to the fairy.
The last fairy seen on Fairy Rock was reportedly in the
form of a calf flying across the sea. When the witness exclaimed, “G-d! weel
loppen, cofe!” as the fairy reached him, it disappeared.
Much of Fairy Rock fell into the sea during a storm in 1872,
but it can still be seen, even if the fairies cannot.