British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Beinn a' Ghlò

Beinn a' Ghlò

John Gregorson circa 1900 tells a story in his book Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland of two huntsmen who were out on the high mountain of Beinn a' Ghlò, north east of Blair Atholl. A heavy snowstorm came on and they lost their way, wandering until they came to a hut where they decided to take shelter. When they entered, there was an old woman, such as they had never seen before:

Her two arms were bare, of great length, and grizzled and sallow to look at. She neither asked them to come in nor go out, and being much in need of shelter, they went in and sat at the fire. There was a look in her eye that might 'terrify a coward,' and she hummed a surly song, the words of which were unintelligible to them.

Despite her forbidding appearance, they asked the old woman for food and she laid a fresh salmon before them, saying, 'Little you thought I would give you your dinner today.' She added that she could do more, and that it was she who had covered the mountain with mist to make them come to her home. They stayed there all night, and she was very kind and hospitable towards them. When it came time for them to leave, she told them that she was 'the wife of Ben-y-Ghloe'.

After, they could not say whether she was human or not. She sounds rather like a Cailleach, a guardian of the wild animals of the mountains who could be friendly or dangerous depending on the circumstance, and who was encountered at Beinn a' Bhric among other places, but she might have been one of the fairies, who in the late 19th century were still said to haunt Beinn a' Ghlò.