While picturesque at first glance, Gormire Lake holds a dark secret. One that, according to legend, links our living plane to eternal damnation.
Situated within the North York Moors, the natural lake was formed over 20,000 years ago as a result of glacial erosion – or, as some believe – as a hidden portal to Hell in which the Devil can freely pass through. Sinister, huh?
So, how did such a crazy story come to be? Well, back in the day, there was a Knight named Sir Harry Scriven – who was basically a pretty skilled conman who tricked the Abbot of Rievaulx Abbey into letting him pinch his horse, leaving the Abbot with his less skilled and less ‘beautiful’ horse.
So far, pretty normal, huh? Let me continue.
Peed off with having the wool pulled over his eyes, legend has it that the Abbot chased the Knight towards the lake – turning into the Devil en-route, of course – igniting such a startle in both the Knight and the horse that they ended up flying head first from Whitestone Cliff, right into the lake.
It gets crazier, trust me.
Once they were in the lake, the bonkers legend claims that the Abbot (big horns and forked tail in tow), dived into the lake after them from the clifftop that can be seen the image below, causing a ‘boiling effect’ in the water that would be expected of such Devilish power.
So, what happened to the Knight and the stolen horse? Unfortunately for the conman, karma acted pretty fast – leaving both Sir Harry Scriven and the Abbot’s white mare horse dead in the bottomless pit that is known now as Gormire Lake.
The legend continues on that at the bottom of the lake lies a secret submerged village, which acts as the gateway to Hell where the Devil can pass through freely as he pleases between the two planes. Naturally, to us mere mortals, it’s said that the lake appears bottomless – so it’s unknown whether the local myths are true, or false. Convenient, huh?
Other tales of the mysterious lake claim that those who have fallen into the lake have been lost, never to be recovered, with wild swimmers also claiming that the lake is full of leeches – a type of parasite that has a folklore connection with the Devil thanks to its blood-sucking nature.
Today, Gormire Lake can be found on the edge of the North York Moors between Hambleton and Thirlby, boasting spectacular views of the surrounding national park. Naturally, we wouldn’t recommend swimming in it, because cold and potential leeches, but we would recommend heading over in the autumn months to capture the perfect landscape photographs – sans Devil, of course.