Western USA Branch
Folklore and stories from Strathlachlan on the shores of Loch Fyne
This is a short account of notable landmarks and tales of the district of Strathlachlan. The stories were, of course, passed down by word of mouth so there is some variation in content. The author makes no apology for the versions quoted, as these are known to him.
Cailleach Vear or Vera (Old Woman of Thunder)
This remarkable stone is situated adjacent to the Leanach-Glendaruel road on a hillock so that the ground slopes on all sides from it. It possessed marvelous properties such as being able to move from hill to hill and being able to summon thunder and flood.
This large rock is on the shore of Loch Fyne near Eas-mhor. There is a tradition that the Chief of the MacLachlans paid a feu-duty to the Crown by placing a pair of white gloves on top of this rock. A servant always accompanied the Chief as witness that the tax had been paid and it is said that when the Chief turned his back the servant recovered the gloves to be used again the following year. The rock is still visible through now it has fallen on its side.
Rob Roy's Stone
This stone is to be found on the hill near the now disused school. There is a circle and other carvings on the stone which are reputed to represent the hand print of Rob Roy MacGregor. This noted folk - hero is said to have used a nearby tall tree as a look-out post whilst hiding in the area. A more prosaic explanation is that this was a possible millstone rejected while cutting.
Craig-Nam-Jaoileann (Rock of the Gulls)
On this rocky promontory stands a monument erected in 1905 to the memory of two local men killed in the Boer War. The men thereby commemorated are Donald MacLachlan and Neil Crawford.
On the rocks beyond Newton village there stands a gray granite memorial erected to the memory of Donald Eric MacKay, a student from Alness in Ross-shire. He was drowned in 1926 while swimming in Loch Fyne from this spot.
This means flat stone and in the center of this loch side hamlet there lies the large flat stone from which it derives its name.
The Hangman's Rock lies close to the road near Lephinchapel Farm and it is said that law-breakers of a bygone age were hanged thereon. One tale is told of the wrong-doer taken to the appointed rock to have sentence carried out when it was discovered that the hanging party had omitted to bring the necessary rope. As an additional punishment the guilty man was sent to collect it. Needless to say he failed to return.
Well of Healing
At the ruined settlement of Kilbride there is a spring, the Well of Healing, said to be endowed with wonderful curative properties. Such was its fame that people traveled great distances to drink of its healing waters.
The Sithean or Fairy Knowe is the conical hill which dominates the northern part of the parish. Legend has it that it provides a habitation for fairies and from which beams of bright light can be seen on especially dark nights. Melodious fairy music can be heard coming from its depths. It has been reported that it was used as an alarm tower to warn of approaching danger in troubles time and the finding of ashes and partially burnt timber on its flat top would tend to confirm this.
Black Dog of Eas Sarachan
Before the building of two timber houses by the Forestry Commission that was a dark wooded area much favored by so-called traveling people for their temporary encampments. This usually deserted stretch of road is said to be haunted by a huge black dog with fiery breath and pulling a clanking chain behind it. A galloping horse is also sometimes heard in the same area. The construction of a new road in 1965 bypasses this eerie stretch.
Cailleach Glas (The Grey Lady)
Near the summit of the old Leanach-Glenaruel road stood a bridge haunted by an old lady clad in grey. She crossed and re-crossed the road, wringing her hands in anguish and wailing all the while.
It is reputed that the inhabitants of the old Portindrain village had gone to attend a wedding (some versions say it was a funeral) and were late in returning home. Some anxious children set off across the moor to meet their parents. Unfortunately, they lost the footpath and in the darkness strayed into a peat bog where three of them were drowned. Their last desperate cries are still said to be audible in this lonely spot.
Lights on the Loch
The sighting of "lights" on Loch Fyne, particularly near the shore, is said to foretell a death. Many locals used to tell of seeing these mysterious lights just prior to the death of a loved on. Phosphoresence, which is very marked in the loch at certain seasons, would provide a likely explanation of this phenomenon.
An oft-told tale, even quoted in the Statistical Account relates that, near the present-day March Cottage, a young child was snatched up and carried off to its distant lair by a Golden Eagle.