The Legend of Giles Roper and the Devil on Fairsnape Fell

Fair Snape FellGiles Roper was crossing Fair Snape Fell one night, on his way home, when he came to a large boulder which was locally feared as a spot frequented by the Devil himself. Giles gave these rumours no real credence but when he came to the spot he looked around carefully, just in case. He saw no devil, but he did see a beautiful golden-haired girl sitting on the boulder. Her beauty was quite entrancing and when she smiled at him and beckoned, Giles moved towards her – only to watch her disappear when he was but a few feet away.

Giles could not rid himself of the memory of that lovely girl, so the next night he went back to the spot where he had seen her, hoping to see her again. Once again, the golden-haired girl appeared and beckoned, only to disappear before Giles could reach her.

It became an obsession. Every night, Giles would return to the spot in the hope of capturing the beautiful creature before she vanished away. But Giles was engaged to the miller’s daughter and she soon wanted to know what he was doing every night, when he was supposed to be courting her. Giles told her the truth but she didn’t believe him; she was convinced that he must have found another lover. She engaged some men to follow him and was surprised when they reported that Giles had indeed simply gone for a walk to the lonely spot on Fair Snape Fell. No other woman was involved. They had simply seen him reach a certain spot and then stop, looking disappointed. But they saw no golden-haired girl.

The miller’s daughter was very relieved by this news but it did her no good; her entreaties that Giles should send his evenings with her instead of walking on the Fell had no effect. Night after night, Giles climbed up the Fell to the boulder, just for a glimpse of the golden-haired girl, desperate for her to stay long enough for him to tell of his love for her.

Eventually Giles fell ill through his nightly exertions and had not the strength to rise from his bed during the day, let alone go walking on the Fell at night. He was sick with fever but called repeatedly for the girl to come to him. Then, one night, before he was quite better, he staggered from his bed, out of the house and up onto Fair Snape Fell.

He was found next morning, lying dead before the boulder. On his face was a look of sheer agony. And around his body, in the peaty ground, were the marks of cloven hooves…

Image © Copyright Stephen Dawson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

About LancashireFolk

Lancashire folklore, legends, ghosts, local history - author of 'Lancashire Folk' published by Schiffer Publishing Winter 2015 - 9780764349836 £17.50. 'Manchester Folk', covering Greater Manchester, coming in 2017!
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