The Kelpie of Loch Garve
The story of the Kelpie of Loch Garve (so it’s technically an Each Uisge, but we’ll keep it as Kelpie for this story) tells of a Kelpie that lived at the depths of the loch with his wife. Now the Kelpie obviously loved his cold wet lair at the bottom of the loch, and was well settled in his element. Although he would make trips on land (most likely hunting mortals) he was always glad to get home. His wife, however, was less impressed. She always felt the terrible cold, and shivered endlessly in that miserable lair at the bottom of the murky loch. At first the Kelpie put this down to her making a fuss over nothing, but as time went by she became more and more unhappy. Fearing that she might leave him, and worried about her welfare, the Kelpie racked his brains wondering what to do.
The very next day he made a decision. He went to shore and transformed himself into a handsome jet-black stallion (as kelpies mostly do) and made for the cottage of a local famous builder. The Kelpie tramped at the hearthstone until the man came out. Seeing this handsome black stallion standing before him, the man, either against his better judgement or oblivious to the warnings of waterhorses, was enticed to climb upon the horse’s back. Immediately he became stuck fast, and the Kelpie galloped at high speed towards the loch with the terrified builder on his back. The Kelpie plunged into the icy waters, his tail pounding the surface like a thunder crash. As the two made their descent the reluctant passenger uttered a prayer. In what seemed like an age the builder was carried down into the black waters, but for some reason did not drown.
When they reached the bottom the Kelpie let the builder dismount, explained his predicament, and promised no hurt upon the builder or his family. He made a bargain that if the builder would do a small favour, then he and his family would have a plentiful supply of fish until the day he died: they would never want for food from the loch.
So the builder – in accordance with the Kelpie’s wishes – set about building a huge magnificent fireplace and lum the like of which no mortal eyes had ever seen. The great chimney twisted upwards through the dark waters to almost the surface, to carry the smoke far away from the lair. Then the fireplace was lit and a great fire sprang up and began warming the submerged home. When the Kelpie saw the sheer delight upon his dear wife’s face, he knew that the builder had fulfilled his bargain and more!
He took the builder back up through the dark, icy waters, and to his house, as if nothing had gone amiss that night – for time in the lands of the faeries does not have the same meaning here. True to his word the Kelpie never forgot the work of the tradesman. The builder and his family were never unable to put fish on the table, and lived like royalty.
But what of the Kelpie and his wife? Well, when the loch freezes over in the midst of the coldest winters, some say there is still to this day a patch of water that never freezes; a small patch of water that never cools like the rest of the loch. Perhaps where a tall lum nearly reaches the surface. This is because a fire still burns merrily in the lair of the Kelpie and his happy wife.