Three Shires: where the counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire meet, and one of our favourite places to be. Officially known as Three Shire Heads, Three Shires is part of the old packhorse route across Axe Edge, near Buxton, where tributaries from the moor run into the River Dane and form a series of waterfalls and pools.
Although there are no marker stones today, Speed’s map of 1610 shows ‘three shyre ſtones’ and other early maps show a stone on the Derbyshire side (behind Panniers Pool Bridge in the photo) that was marked with an ‘H’ (for Hartington).
As well as drovers and their ponies, stopping off at Panniers Pool for a well-earned rest, Three Shires was famous for some less pleasant activities. It was a popular spot for cock fights and illegal boxing matches, and local thieves would hide in the area, its remoteness making it hard to police. If the law did turn up, a quick sprint into the next county meant you couldn’t be arrested.
As you’d expect, a wild place like this has made its mark in local folklore. Tales of witchcraft abound in the records, and we learn that drinking water from Panniers Pool for nine mornings in a row was a sure antidote to any spell. Perhaps the water was believed to be special because it sometimes has a yellow or reddish tint – a result of minerals brought down from the moor rather than (sadly) any supernatural power.