Fairy Tale Friday- The Water Kelpie

This Scottish tale is all about a young boy named Kyle. He was from quite a poor family with the only food being available to him and his family being what they grew on a strip of land between their cottage and the shores of the loch. Kyle overheard his mother speaking to his father about spring sowing. Kyle’s father said he was too old to drag the plough and Kyle too young. His mother worried, wondering what to do. Kyle’s father wanted to use a horse to pull the plough, but his wife disagreed. She said it wasn’t a horse outside, but a water kelpie. She begged him not to try to mount the water kelpie as legend had it that no man could tame the water kelpie. Unfortunately, Kyle’s father was insistent and ended up being dragged under by the water kelpie.

Kyle went to the loch to try and get some fish for dinner. He came across an old woman who explained she was freezing at night because her bones ached. Being a good boy, he brought her his father’s plaid to give to her. The woman said she didn’t take anything without giving anything and gave Kyle her shawl telling him it could be better to sit upon a plaidie than wrap it around you. That day, Kyle caught a fish.

The next day the woman returned again near the loch. She told Kyle how hungry she was and he kindly gave her bread that was meant to be for his breakfast. In return, the woman gave Kyle a lump of salt in a pouch. She said salt could be used to kill rather than to cure. That day, Kyle caught 2 fish.

On the third day, Kyle wondered what on earth the woman would want next. The woman wanted a stout rope to pull her bucket from the well. He have her the plough rope as he could not push the plough. The woman gave Kyle a bridle for a horse and told him iron is not only used to make a pot.  That day, Kyle caught 3 fish.

Kyle’s mother told him to take notice of what the old woman had told him. Later in the week, the water kelpie showed itself again. Kyle was determined to beat the water kelpie, but his mother warned him of the legend. Kyle was eager to try. When his mother fell asleep, he put the worn shawl around his shoulders, took the horse bridle and climbed out of the window towards the loch.

He remembered the woman’s words. He took the shawl and placed it over the creature’s back. Then he grabbed its mane and mounted the kelpie. The kelpie grew bigger and bigger. His mother had awoken by then and begged him to jump off. He said he would not until the kelpie ploughed the field. The kelpie snorted and reiterated the legend that no man could ride a water kelpie and live. Kyle remembered the salt and used it against the water kelpie. The salt made the water kelpie enraged. Kyle used the iron part of the horse bridle to slip into the kelpie’s mouth. This immediately tamed the kelpie and it became obedient.

Kyle used the water kelpie to plough the fields and fields for miles around Loch Ness. When the fields were done he released the water kelpie into the loch.

This shows that the legend was true- no man could master the water kelpie, but a boy could!

Next Fairy Tale- The Goshawk and The Brave Lady


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