I've been holding off posting this story until I could find more information and further sources, but unfortunately this is one of those stories that seems to be passed on by spoken word rather than being printed in books! I say unfortunately... but in some ways that makes it even more beautiful and special, a story passed on by locals and from parent to child. Of course, the other possibility is that it's a modern fairy tale, but either way it's a lovely story and a lovely place to visit!
I found the story on the Mull of Galloway website, the only source i've found for it so far. I've spoken to the website owner and he says as far as he knows it's local folklore, if I find out anything else i'll of course let you know. It's a lovely website for anyone thinking of visiting the area, and contains some curious other local tales including the heather ale legend.
The story is set on the Mull of Galloway, the most southernly point of Scotland, and a place famous for it's smugglers and beautiful scenic views. You can see right across to Ireland on a clear sunny day! The Mull of Galloway website says that here near present day Kilstay, the "sailors would throw offerings of food to ensure fair winds and a safe journey but none hung around to wait on the fairies coming out of the dark recesses of their cave to collect these offerings". According to folklore, the Cove of Grennan was a well known spot for these cave-dwelling fairies, and there was once a narrow passage leading all the way to Clanyard Bay on the west coast. It seems that the locals were wary and would not explore these caves until....
"One day a piper, braver than the rest, marched off playing his bagpipes and walked straight into the cave accompanied by his dog. Those left outside could hear the music being played from within the depths of the earth until, eventually, it faded away. The dog, minus its hair, finally emerged terror stricken from the cave at Clanyard Bay but the piper was never seen again. Local legend, however, suggests that sometimes in the summer nights, when all is still and there is no wind at all moving around the Mull, it is possible to hear the faint sound of the pipes and that of a howling dog coming from under the ground at Clanyard Bay."This area was once used by smugglers, and was said to contain secret passageways used to smuggle goods from the coast to nearby farm houses, so there's a good chance that this bay did once contain tunnels as in the story above. Stories of hauntings in such tunnels were commonly spread about by the smugglers themselves, knowing that if the locals were too scared to enter the tunnels then they'd never discover all the illegal goods hidden there. Of course, once the smugglers had abandoned the tunnels, what a perfect home they would have made for any fairies looking for a new abode!
Whilst seeking fairies in nearby Dumfries, I couldn't resist visiting this lovely spot and seeking out the secret tunnels for myself! Unfortunately the tunnels are long since gone, leaving behind towering rocky boulders and dense green shrubs and brambles. Trickling waterfalls seep through the rocks and form sparkling little rockpools, and lonesome thorn trees top the rocky cliffs above. Very pretty and very typical of a fairy dwelling place!