Deep in the depths of the Peak District lies a small village called Hartington. It is said by some that, many years ago, the town was visited by a wealthy squire from a far-off land. Nobody knew exactly where he came from or why, but he was generous with coin and compliment and, when he decided to stay, the villagers were glad and all was happy with the world.
The squire liked to party. He also liked the hotel he was staying in. So he bought it. And from then on, every night at The Charles Cotton Hotel, the squire would host a massive get-together, open to all villagers. The nights would be spent singing and carousing. And that’s when the screaming started…
Some said it was a rogue ostrich. Others, an angry emu. But whatever it was that burst into the Hotel that first night, it brought death and destruction amidst a flurry of blood and feathers.
Undeterred, the squire continued to hold his nightly parties, and every night the feathered creature returned, always going first for the musicians with beak and talons. It was suggested that it might not like the music (like our friend Ken), that perhaps they should “play it down a bit” but the squire wasn’t one for being threatened. As he put it, “If the bird dunna like to bop then it needs stuffin!”
But you can’t stuff a giant bird. Especially an angry one. Especially a giant one.
The nightly attacks continued unabated. Until one fateful night when the feathered monstrosity stuck its beak into a wedge of Stilton cheese. Upon doing so, it gave out a painful screech. Seeing this, the local cobbler, Denton Flatley, screamed, “It’s the cheese! It’s allergic to cheese!” Upon which, all the villagers in the hotel, grabbed the cheese off their laden crackers and threw it violently at the
ostrich emu bird. With haste, the beaked beast scampered out of the hall beneath a hail of cheesy wedges.
And to this day it has never returned.
It was decided at the next village meeting that, in order to prevent the giant bird returning to Hartington, a cheese factory should be built. And so it was. And whilst Hartington village was imbued with the heady aroma of Stilton wafting throughout its streets and side-alleys, the villagers could sleep soundly knowing that the feathered monstrosity would not return.
Was it dead? Surely not. Some passing travellers brought tales of being chased through the nearby dales of Biggin, Wolfscote and Beresford by a hideous, winged creature, only to find that the pursuer would turn away upon smelling the aroma of Stilton wafting from the village of Hartington.
And on still nights, when the cheesy smell lingers only within the village, some say they hear peculiar screeching sounds from the surrounding dales, as the demon bird tries to infiltrate Hartington’s Stilton defences…
‘Get packing Ruthie!’ I shouted, slamming shut my copy of The Beast Bird of Hartington, ‘We’re going to the Peak District!’