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Loch Ness Water Horse


James Mackinlay in his Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs (1893) tells of another creature that was said to lurch in Loch Ness. 'A noted demon-steed once inhabited Loch Ness, and was a cause of terror to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Like other kelpies, he was in the habit of browsing along the roadside, all bridled and saddled, as if waiting for some one to mount him. When any unwary traveller did so, the kelpy took to his heels, and presently plunged into deep water with his victim on his back. Mr. W. G. Stewart, in his "Highland Superstitions and Amusements," tells a story to show that the kelpy in question did not always have things his own way. A Highlander of the name of MacGrigor resolved to throw himself in the way of the water-horse in the hope of getting the better of him. The meeting took place in the solitary pass of Slochd-Muichd, between Strathspey and Inverness. The kelpy looked as innocent as usual, and was considerably startled when MacGrigor, sword in hand, struck him a blow on the nose. The weapon cut through the bridle, and the bit, falling to the ground, was instantly picked up by MacGrigor. This was the turning point of the encounter. The kelpy was powerless without his bit, and requested to have it restored. Though a horse, the kelpy had the power of human speech, and conversed, doubtless in excellent Gaelic, with his victor, using various arguments to bring about the restoration of his lost property. Finding that these were unavailing, he prophesied that MacGrigor would never enter his house with the bit in his possession, and when they arrived at the door he planted himself in front of it to block the entrance. The Highlander, however, outwitted the kelpy, for, going round to the back of his house, he called his wife and flung the bit to her through a window. Returning to the kelpy, he told him where the bit was, and assured him that he would never get it back again. As there was a rowan cross above the door the demon-steed could not enter the house, and presently departed uttering certain exclamations not intended for benedictions.'


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