Thursday, 12 January 2012

Loch Chon, Trossachs

I hope you all had a wonderful winter, and I apologise for the delay in adding the rest of my Trossach adventures! If any of you happen to use facebook, i'd like to invite you to join the 'Faery Folklore of the UK' group, a wonderful and friendly place to discuss fairy folklore, share stories and photos, and chit chat about folkloric things. Open to all, everyone welcome!

Next on my journey in the Trossachs was a visit to Loch Chon. It is perhaps best known for its resident kelpie or water-monster, but according to one source there are more faeries living at Loch Chon than anywhere else in the world! Well worth a visit then.

Louis Stott writes in 'Enchantments of the Trossachs' (1992), quoting Robertson's 'Selected Highland Folk Tales' (1961), and relates "a macabre folk-tale about a water-monster in Loch Chon, the dog loch. The story is about the murder of a young boy by a tinker who threw the lad into the loch where he was taken by a monster shaped like a dog." Stott continues, "A recent visitor to the spot had a vision of the same incident."

Further on in the book, Stott tells of how the loch became home to the fairies after they were banished from Menteith (blog on Menteith coming soon!), he writes that "some crossed over to the west of the River Forth, others went to the north, to live in the solitude of Balquhidder and Lochearnhead. The rest moved into the upper reaches of Strathard, which is why there are more faeries living at Loch Chon than anywhere else in the world."

Loch Chon is well sign posted and has it's own carpark, with a gravel track leading further into the trees and towards the loch. The path seems to vanish rather quickly and you're left with a few muddy paths to follow, some leading to the edge of the loch and others into the wooded areas.

We arrived at the loch approaching dusk, and found an eerie misty fog floating above the lake. The silence was extraordinary, not a sound for miles, and the loch was deathly still.

The shores of the loch are scattered with circles of rocks and burnt driftwood, the remains of camp fires. Deserted and forgotten, it's such a lonely place at dusk.

As time was getting on and dusk approaching, we bid farewell and returned a couple of days later when light was more plentiful. We decided to wander further into the wooded area, and found an enchanting abundance of fungus and mosses, all delicate and pretty...

.... and some less pretty, and more slimy and rather strange looking....
We found a mossy green tree throne, or the king of the mossy trees, it definitely had an air of royalty about it!

And lots of mossy green trees, that seemed to be paying respectful attention to the mossy green tree throne!
We spotted a grassy mound sprinkled with bracken and moss, with a definite feel of faerie about it, and lots of lovely mossy logs covered with mushrooms and tiny delicate lichen.

As with many locations associated with the fae, it's hard to know whether the place was once scene to a folkloric story or whether the association with the fae comes purely from the beauty and enchanting atmosphere, created by carpets of moss and gnarled old trees. I would love to hear from anyone who can point me in the direction of any other sources connecting Loch Chon with the fairies, as i'm very intrigued to know why there are said to be more fairies living at Loch Chon than anywhere else in the world!

Sources & Further Information
Selected Highland Folk Tales, Robertson
The Enchantment of the Trossachs, Stott


Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures, as always. There's something so enchanting about mossy woods - almost more so in winter when the mosses makes sure they continue to feel alive when everything else is dormant.

I wonder, given the kelpie, if the stories commemorate the Picts, before they walked away or were subsumed into later peoples. The usual story, I guess - although I'd rather have an elven type on your lovely woodland throne!

The Faery Folklorist said...

Mossy woods are always a pleasure to walk through! I love looking at the mosses close up, it's like a tiny little world with all those tiny plants and lichens all growing together so closely :) You're right, they definitely feel more alive in winter!

It's strange about the Kelpie, i've seen a mention of a Kelpie in the Loch but no sources of stories about it, just the dog-shaped water monster! Which certainly isn't something you hear about every day :D

Scottish Nature Boy said...

There's now a new Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority low-key campsite at this location where we spent two nights this August - so its no longer lonely and still but it IS a really stunning place to camp. I swam a few times in the Loch, including a swim out of sight of family and friends behind one of the islands. I was unaware of the Kelpie story until now, and I can report that the only dog-shaped monster seen during swimming on this occasion was my terrier Ella on the shore.

The Faery Folklorist said...

Thanks for that update, what a beautiful location for a campsite! I hope the B829 hasn't gotten too busy, I used to love staying in Stronachlachar, that road did seem very long after travelling it every day for a week! :D

Scottish Nature Boy said...

And I should have added that we have a particular interest in kelpies in our family as my wife Olivia who works for Scottish Canals came up with the original idea that led to Andy Scott's Kelpie statues in the Helix Park. Happy to impart that story in full to you one day over a coffee or a beer! We are Stirling- based, so probably achievable. In consequence, we call the Kelpies ' Mummy's Horses' in our house!