Vampires in Cumbria?

Vampires in Cumbria?

There’s an old tale about a remote Cumbrian village called Renwick, close to Dollywagon HQ, that was once gripped by terror in the 18th Century, but it’s not the kind of story that usually frightens a grown man.

In 1733 Renwick’s old village church had fallen into disrepair and a gang of workmen were detailed to demolish the ruin.

As the workmen pulled down the decaying stones a hideous creature suddenly flew out of the church foundations and rose up before them, causing the men to down-tools and run for their lives. However, one brave villager called John Tallantire took up the branch of a rowan tree and fought with the huge black creature until he killed it.

Over the years this story has refused to die and some villagers continue to speak in hushed tones of a huge black, bat-like figure that has been seen flying about the village on “certain evenings”. Others who may not see it have sensed its evil presence as a cold chill or faint shadow that passed over them.

Now, I love a good vampire story as much as the next man but as a rational bloke I never give old wives tales much credence. However, my recent adventure down an old abandoned lead mine in the mountain above Dollywagon HQ made me think again about the tale of the terrifying “Renwick Bat”.

I recently discovered the mine entrance dug high into the mountainside above the village and had ventured down it with my camera. I was feeling pretty relaxed until something odd occurred about 300m inside the rock-hewn tunnel.

Mines are spooky places at the best of times – there’s nothing quite like the sensation of being hundreds of meters underground surrounded by heavy rocks, dank air and utter darkness. But as my camera flash exploded through the tunnel it picked out something incongruous within a deep natural rock crevice.

As I moved closer to the fissure and shone my fading torch beam into it, the orange glow revealed something small and light coloured enveloped by what looked to be ancient red skin.

My imagination fell into an instant turmoil. Here I am, on my own 300m down an old abandoned lead mine and I’ve just found something old and leathery that’s clearly not made of rock. Other than one of Satan’s own hobgoblins, what else on earth could be hiding down here in the perpetual night? The Renwick Vampire Bat, perhaps?

I loosed off a few wild camera shots at the enigma to satisfy male pride and then made a quick exit to the surface. On my return home I viewed the images on my PC screen but all of them were blurred and indistinct, which only increased my sense of the paranormal.

I couldn’t leave the matter there so 2 weeks later I resolved to enter the mine again, but this time with more powerful lighting. When I returned to the same spot where I discovered the rock crevice, imagine my surprise to find it still occupied by the self-same tenant. Feeling a little braver this time, I shone a more powerful light into the crack and discovered what appeared to be nothing more than a hibernating bat!

I was now worried about disturbing the creature and having it flap around my ears in the claustrophobic darkness. I therefore quickly took several good photos, during which time the poor creature wriggled further into its hiding place and thereby proved beyond doubt that it was still alive.

I am by no means an expert on bats and I’m amazed to find one hidden so far underground at the end of a long and narrow lead mine. If anyone can identify the species of bat I discovered from my pictures I would be very grateful to hear from them and perhaps learn more about the habits of these remarkable little creatures.

Person read this post and left a comment

  • Olivia Hannah Brownlee 12/04/2010

    Very good work Daddy but it is a surprise to find you scared of a teeny weeny bat!!!

Leave a Reply