Folklore of the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is a magical place with many mythical stories. From mischevious fairies to ghostly goings on. Here we share a few of the mysterious stories.

1. John Brown at Balmoral Castle

Folklore of the Cairngorms

One of the most famous ghosts of Balmoral Castle is that of John Brown. He was the friend of Queen Victoria and he has been seen walking around the castle corridors. It is said that Queen Elizabeth II has reported seeing the ghost of John Brown in the corridor and feeling his presence. He is said to be always wearing his kilt.

2. Glenshee Fairies

Folklore of the Cairngorms
Image Credit: Neil Williamson

Glenshee is a magical place with a rich history, it takes its name from the Gaelic word shith, signifying ‘fairies’. Until the old tongue died out in the late 1800’s the inhabitants were known as Sithichean a’ Ghlinnshith – ‘The Elves of Glenshee’. The Glen’s ancient meeting place behind the kirk was called Dun Shith (Hill of the Fairies) and is still dominated by a standing stone from the Bronze age.

3. The Serpents Stone

A friendly witch used to live at the north end of Loch Beanie. She was known for being a person who could cure minor ailments with her potions. Legend has it, she was accused of causing the death of a laird’s son and turned herself into a snake and hid in a stone to evade the local laird who was seeking his revenge. In his frustration he repeatedly hit the boulder with his sword to reach the burrowed witch taunting him from inside. The laird was unable to injure the serpent but the marks on the stone can still be seen today.

4. ‘Loch of the Curse’ (Loch Garten & Loch Mallachie)

Folklore of the Cairngorms

According to legend there was a Bodach, or Spirit, which frequented Loch Garten and the ominously named Loch Mallachie (Loch of the Curse). The phantom would appear as a glowing gigantic white entity, roaming the countryside at night, warning anyone he met with a high pitched scream, of approaching death. But, could the startling cries simply be passing wildfowl or the moanings of the loch – you decide.

5. The Corrieyairack Pass

The Corrieyairack Pass, to the south west of the Monadhliath Mountains, is a favourite route of many walkers. If caught out by poor visibility and bad weather, then assistance may just arrive in the form of the ‘Highlander with Hounds’! In bleak, dreich weather this ghostly figure is said to appear from the mist to guide people back to the safety of the bridge.

6. Ruthven Barracks

Folklore of the Cairngorms

The castle ruins that once stood on the site of Ruthven Barracks (Kingussie) was occupied in the 14th century by the ruthless ‘Wolf of Badenoch’ Alexander Stewart. Legend has it that Alexander was challenged to a game of chess with the devil – and lost! A mighty thunderstorm ensued and the following day the ‘Wolf’ was found lifeless and the nails of his boots torn from the leather!

In the mood for some spooky goings on this Halloween? Check out our event listings for all the spooktacular events happening throughout the Park……

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