We head to the Lake District for our latest Curiosity of the Week, where a local legend comes into play.
Barf fell can be found near the south-western shore of Bassenthwaite Lake in Cumbria. Apart from being a picturesque place to walk, Barf is also familiar to locals for another reason. A whitewashed pillar of rock can be seen on the lower slopes of the fell, and is known as the ‘Bishop of Barf’ or ‘Bishop’s Rock’.
But why is there a painted rock on the fell and why is it known as the Bishop of Barf?
This painted stone is said to mark the spot where, if you wish to believe local legend, the Bishop of Derry was killed falling from his horse. The story goes that in 1783, after drinking in the nearby Swan Hotel, the Bishop of Derry drunkenly bet he could ride up to the top of the hill. Alas the Bishop did not make it, falling to his death.
The Bishop of Barf stone is whitewashed to commemorate the place where the bishop is reputed to have fallen. Both the Bishop and his horse are said to be buried near a smaller whitewashed stone, known as ‘The Clerk’. The Clerk is placed nearer the base of the hill.
The stones used to be kept whitewashed by staff at the Swan Hotel, until the hotel sadly closed. The whitewashing is now carried out by members of Keswick Mountain Rescue.
For those wishing to check out the legendary stones, the Bishop stands at about 7ft up the shortest side of the fell. While The Clerk, a much smaller conical stone, can be found lower down and half hidden by bushes, near the footpath. The stones are also visible from the road, if you look carefully.
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