Fairy Loch, Arrochar, Argyll

Sacred Loch:  OS Grid Reference – NS 3384 9937

Also Known as:

  1. Lochan Uiane

Getting Here

Fairy Loch on 1865 map

To get here, go down the A82 about four-and-a-half miles south of Tarbet (along the Loch Lomond road). Near a burn coming down the hill is an old house, long in ruin, and near the side of this is an old path – more for deer than city-folk. Go up through the wooded hillside for about a half-mile (amble the trek and make it a nice hour’s walk to get into the place). I’d take the stream itself, as you get more into the nature of the place once you get up the slope: there’s more to see, feel and a healthy water supply en route.

Folklore

This is more of a ‘holy loch’ than a holy well — for obvious reasons.  Although it’s not much bigger than a large pond, it is little-known, but has long had the tradition of being an abode of the sith, or faerie-folk. There is, of course, a tendency to find prehistoric remains where the sith have their repute, but there seems little on official records nearby.

Tradition tells that the loch was actually formed in ancient times by locals damming the burn for water supply. Another tells the same in order that a mill could be fed with constant water – though no mill can be found. If this latter tradition is true however, the fairy creature here could have been a brownie – though they are generally more a lowland elemental. One of the reasons the place has been named after the little people is that when certain light falls on it, at the right time of day and year, green triangular shapes emerge from the water formed by deposits hidden beneath the surface (hence the original Gaelic name, Lochan Uaine, or the Green Loch).

Local historian Norman Douglas echoed the folktale described many years earlier by the great John Gregorson Campbell (1900), telling that,

“another story is that the local people would deposit their sheeps’ fleeces in the Fairy Loch overnight, wish for them to be dyed a certain colour, and overnight the fairies would carry out their wish.”

References:

  1. Campbell, John G., Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, James MacLehose: Glasgow 1900.
  2. Douglas, Norman, Arrochar, Reiver Press: Galashiels n.d. (c.1971)

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.158113, -4.676850 Fairy Loch

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