Is there a faerie at the bottom of your garden... Or something a little more sinister? A new book explains how shield yourself from spells. Sheila Weber reports.

DID you know that Weardale has more than its fair share of faeries? Or that Yorkshire has an abundance of hobgoblins and such?

A new book spotlights the host of strange sightings of supernatural beings who inhabit these parts and, indeed, the British Isles in general.

Tales of an enchanted kingdom come from all corners of the land and many of the stories can be traced back as far as Celtic times; passed down through the generations as old wives' tales or faerie stories for children.

In Faeries and Folklore, author Elizabeth Andrews describes both in prose and artwork the different types of creatures which have, allegedly, been seen, where they may still be found and their customs and habits.

There are also valuable tips on how to protect yourself against faerie magic should you stray into their haunts.

Take Stanhope in County Durham. The book says that locals are well aware that the faeries can be anything but friendly at times.

There is the fascinating legend of the farmer whose daughter strayed into a faerie cave and he was terrified the creatures might take the little girl in revenge. Getting his daughter back involved words with the wise woman of the village and acquiring three gifts for the faerie king. This was no mean feat, but the farmer succeeded and his precious child was returned.

But from that day on, the girl stayed close to home - knowing better than to meddle with the faeries of the dale.

Similarly, a farmer fell foul of Jeanie, the Bogle of Mulgrave Wood, near Whitby in North Yorkshire.

For some reason, the farmer needed to make contact with Jeanie, who was chief of all her family.

He went to her cave and shouted: "Coom out, lass, I want a word with thee."

The wizened and ugly Bogle came rushing out - a fearsome sight to be sure.

Farmer and horse fled in terror, hotly pursued by the angry Jeanie. In the nick of time, the farmer remembered that Bogles cannot cross water and so headed for a nearby stream. Sadly, he wasn't in time to save his steed, whose rump was touched by Jeanie's wand and sliced clean in two.

The farmer fell gratefully to safety on the other bank. It goes without saying he never bothered Jeanie again.

Elizabeth Andrews publishes a series of cards and prints specialising in the faerie world and mythical creatures and exhibitions on the subject have been staged widely in the south-west of the country.

The interest sparked by these displays led her to spend three years writing and researching this new book.

First and foremost she compiles a survival kit for those brave enough to tackle a spot of faerie-watching. Essential items include a horseshoe because iron, apparently, repels all; a protective rowan walking stick; a jam jar; warm clothing and - most important of all - gifts for the faerie people.

The best times to see faeries are dawn, dusk and midnight. But the crowing of the cock will drive them away. The best days are Hallowe'en, May Day, Midsummer Day, Lady Day and Christmas Day. Unexplained movement of branches or leaves could signify a faerie presence.

While we have our share of the little people, the book points out that belief in them is widespread all over the world. Their name comes from the Latin "fata", or fate. The old English term for faerie is "fey", which means enchanted or bewitched.

The author gives a county by county, region by region rundown on the faerie presence, packing the pages with snippets, legends and imaginative artwork.

The perfect guide, then, for anyone still waiting to see faeries at the bottom of the garden...

* Faeries and Folklore of the British Isles (Arris Publishing, £9.99).