back to the portal of the ForeverBeyond A novel by Peter Lancett The moon will take you home...
Stand in the centre of Stoke-on-Trent and it is hard for even the most fertile of imaginations to believe that there could be subtle and exquisite beauty to be found by travelling just a few short miles in any direction
Such is the atmosphere of run-down squalor that pervades what must be without doubt the ugliest city in the Western world
Yet, to the South lies verdant, unspoiled countryside, rolling towards the sinister yet nonetheless wonderful forests of Cannock Chase to the west lie the Shropshire Hills, rising ever more steeply until they become the mountains of North Wales and to the North and North East, the land rises sharply, becomes high moorland, increasing in desolation until finally the Staffordshire Moorlands give way to the Derbyshire High Peaks
And nestled undisturbed in a dip in the land, on the very Northern tip of the city is Knypersley, a fairytale landscape of lake and rolling meadows, and wooded copses breathtaking by day but at night ?
The lake, of course, is not really a lake but a reservoir even so, one built an age ago, at the beginning of the nineteenth century when man held nature in greater esteem than today and as a result, the reservoir at Knypersley gives an appearance of being anything BUT artificial Trees border the waters edge and the water is circled by a pleasant walking track shaded by the foliage on hot summer days
Overlooking the lake though nowadays it is almost obscured by trees - is Knypersley Castle not really a castle, though youd be forgiven for thinking that it wa at first glance it was built after the Gothic fashion, in 1828 the walls are THICK stone, and battlements decorate the top of the starkly imposing tower originally it was home to the reservoir keeper and his family but although built only 130 years ago it has been empty for all of living memory in other words, this imposing residence was occupied for only a few short decades before it was left to rot why do you suppose that might be ?
We have mentioned the fairytale nature of Knypersley it has always stood at a threshold - first between verdant pasture land and the harshness of the high Moorland, and now between the ugliness of the city and that same unchanging moor yet from its own setting, neither can be discerned Many are the tales of water-sprites that have passed down to local children of the region always there have been tales of something monsterous in the pool to some generations it was a mighty Pike, large enough to drag the unwary swimmer to a horrible doom in other ages the legends have echoed back to distant times when there was less need to cloak fears in the acceptable form of a known - albeit supernaturally large - creature of nature times there have been when the water spirit was respected for what it was AND IS for something DOES dwell in that pool something ancient something living something MALEVOLENT even up until recent times, say twenty to thirty years ago, the last age when children would step out for adventures to places like Knypersley on a hot summer's day, it was a brave child who would venture to swim in that pool and with good reason for there have been children enough who have dared it and not returned from its watery embrace alive walk along the pool's edge in the dead of night and sometimes, it is said, you can hear them calling for help you can hear little splashes and ripples on the water's surface as they strive to return home and some say you can hear the horrible gurbling of some of them drowning but you should be asking yourself just what is it that keeps them there ? Something for you to ponder as you make your way around the pool's edge to the castle
Time was when the castle was open you could enter and explore not any more a gate of steel bars is padlocked over the entrance at the foot of the tower the windows have been similarly attended to and through the bars at the entrance you can see the beginning of the winding stone staircase which would take you to the top of the tower and the upper floors of the building and you can see why the place has always been known as a castle it is barred now because it had become a focal point for groups who would enter at night to make nefarious pacts with well, who knows what ? Dare you seek to find out, o heart-of-steel?
Go to the castle, but as you wind your way along the path that girdles the pool, listen out for the rustle of the trees, listen for the splashes in the water look out for what may be hidden in shadows ahead of you for something has always lived for that water something resistant to change and your very prescence represents change of a sort so begone, o heart-of-steel and listen out as you approach Knypersley Castle, for the sound of dripping as if from something very recently risen from the watery depths
Don't fancy this? ...try something gentler