Not far from Dartmoor lies another Pixie Cave, hidden away in the Chudleigh Rocks. These rocks are steeped in Pixie stories varying from kidknapped children to pixy-led travellers. According to John Britton's 'The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume IV' (1803), the caverns are said "in the traditions of the peasantry to be inhabited by Pixies, or Pisgies, a race of supernatural beings, "invisibly small".
John Page, in his book 'The Rivers of Devon' (1893) informs us that the main object in the cave is the Devil's pincushion or Pope's Head, a soft mass of rock "into which both credulous - if any there now be - and incredulous tourists delight in sticking a pin as a propitiatory offering to the elfin inhabitants."
The rocks are also mentioned in Issue 61 of Notes & Queries, Dec 28 (1850):
"At Chudleigh rocks I was told, a few weeks ago, by the old man who acts as a guide to the caves, of a recent instance of a man's being pixy-led. In going home, full of strong drink, across the hill above the cavern called the "Pixies' Hole", on a moonlit night, he heard sweet music, and was led into the whirling dance by the "good folk", who kept on spinning him without mercy, till he fell down "in a swoon". On "coming to himself", he got up and found his way home, where he "took to his bed, and never left it again, but died a little while after," the victim (I suppose) of delirium tremens, or some such disorder, the incipient symptoms of which his haunted fancy turned into the sweet music in the night wind and the fairy revel on the heath."Chudleigh also get a mention in Lady Northcote's Devonshire Folklore article in Folklore Vol II No 2 (1900), as a place where "mothers used to tie their babies to them in bed at night for fear of the Pixies." She also tells the following story:
"A keeper and his wife used to live at Chudleigh, near the rocks, whose holes the pixies "bide in". This couple had two children, and one morning when the wife had dressed the eldest she let her run away while she dressed the baby. Presently her husband came and asked her "where the little maid was to?" For she was gone and was not to be found. They searched high and low for days; the neighbours came to help, and at least bloodhounds were to be sent for. But one morning some young men thought they would go and help themselves to some nuts from a clump of nut-trees not far from the keeper's house, and at the farthest side they came suddenly on the child, undressed, but well and happy, and not at all starved, playing with her toes, or toads; I do not know which. The pixies were supposed to have stolen the child, and are still firmly believed to have been responsible for her disappearance."The most scenic way to get to the Pixies Hole cave is through The Rock Gardens at Station Hill, Chudleigh. A small entry fee will gain you entry to the rock gardens, which are lovely and overgrown and wild in the best way possible, and lead through to Chudleigh Cave, a narrow illuminated cave full of interesting and rather creepy rock formations. To get to the Pixies Hole and other caves you leave through a gate at the back of the gardens into the Clifford Estate. The paths here are not as well maintained and it's rather easy to accidently stray from the path and get a little lost, and the paths to the caves require some scrambling over rocks to get to, though we might have missed an easier route! The cave itself is gated and locked to protect a colony of bats living inside it, but on a sunny day you can see quite far into the cave.
John Britton, quoting Mr Warner, in his book 'The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume IV' (1803) gives a full description of the cave, for those intrigued as to what lies behind the metal gates.
"The entrance to the cavern is by a natural arch, about twelve feet wide, and ten high: the passage continues nearly of the same dimensions for about twenty yards, when it suddenly diminishes to nearly six feet wide, and four high, and still decreasing in size, extends about fifteen yards further. Here it expands into a spacious chamber, which dividing into two parts, runs off in different directions: but the rock dropping, neither of them can be pursued to any great distance; though tradition asserts, that a dog put into one of them came out at an aperture in Botter rock, about three miles distant."
Sources & Further Information
The Beauties of England and Wales, Volume IV, John Britton
The Rivers of Devon, John Page
Notes & Queries, Issue 61, Dec 28 1850
Devonshire Folklore, Lady R Northcote, Folklore Vol II No 2
The Rock Gardens, Chudleigh