A Chill on the Cairngorms

The Scottish adventure of a hearty lass that may, or may not, be true.

River Spey

‘Twas a chilly early spring morning, but the sun peeped through the clouds and the River Spey ran fast. Most of the snow on the Cairngorms had melted, except of course for on the grandest of them all Ben Macdhui, otherwise known as the Big Grey Man of Beth Macdhui. I defied the chill and the warnings of my host, pulled on my Wellingtons, an old green Mackintosh and an ugly knitted cap that Robert Grant Senior had given me, and ventured out on a hike. Trudging across the estate, through the family cemetery and up the path that led to the fisherman’s cottage, I convinced myself that this would clear my head after the revelry of the prior evening. I mean how much Whiskey can one drink and still remain upright? Daffodils popped their heads out of small patches of snow, and cheered me on my journey as I braved the stony slopes of the mountain. 

Daffodils in Northern Scotland

As I climbed higher the sky got darker. Mist, as thick as pea soup, soon swirled before me and I had to squint to see the path through the pass. Within minutes, the entire mountain was enveloped, and I could no longer see the summit. Icy wind tore at the Mack, and Robert’s ugly old hat was whipped from my head. Hair flew around my face and my eyes watered from the strain of getting my bearings. Fearing the lashing rain I’d been warned about would soon arrive, I turned on the narrow path. One loud footstep echoed, and then another, and another, and all the time drawing nearer and gaining in intensity until it sounded like the pounding of hooves. I looked behind although knowing I had no weapon. The wind howled and whirled around me, opening small glimpses of the path and the mountain. A huge dark shape loomed above me, receded a bit, and then advanced again. Loud, deep Gaelic words rumbled about me, but with my heart beating fast I did not stop to question. The way down was difficult because of the Wellington’s, but I ran never once stopping to look behind me. I fled that pass quicker than lightning, stumbling into the clearing below, heart pounding, and my lungs stinging for want of breath.

The howling of nearby dogs told me that life and safety was close by, but up there, in the pass, that had been death. A huge grotesque human form had spoken in human tongue, but four legs? I sank to the ground, wrapping my arms around myself for comfort, and finally upon standing again saw the swirls of mist had disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.

“Stand Fast,” I whispered.

Grant Clan

Clansmen’s Crest: A mountain inflamed proper. Motto: Stand fast. Gaelic name: Grannd. Being of the Grant Clan, I’ve always been fascinated with stories of ghosts in the rugged areas of Northern Scotland. Grants have been associated with the River Spey, and the valley of Strathspey, and Grantown-on-Spey, where the old Castle Grant is to be found, since oh, forever. : )          

Castle Grant Gatehouse

This is an adaptation, or combination, of several stories I’ve heard or read over the years. For more on Scottish ghosts the Gazetteer of Scottish Ghosts, by Peter Underwood, is a spine tingling read. I’m sure there will always be stories told about the happenings out there on the Cairngorms, and what better time to share one than on Halloween, where all kinds of things go bump in the night. Click on the links below to join in TWRP Haunted Garden Halloween Hop. You’ll get to read other Halloween stories, and enter to win prizes, from fellow Wild Rose Press authors:

1. http://bethtrissel.wordpress.com

2. http://www.ceradubois.com/blog

3. http://micheledewinton.blogspot.co.nz

4. http://veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

5. http://pamelafryer.blogspot.com

*The photos were taken by me on a trip several years ago when I went in search of my Scottish roots. Soooo glad I made it back home in one piece.

**And now, because you will need a nice warm drink after that chilly walk up the mountain, leave a comment and your name will go into Robert Grant Senior’s hat, for it was blown clear down the mountain and retrieved the next day.

***There will be a prize of a $15 gift card to Starbucks. Announcement of the winner will be made on this blog on October 31st.


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23 Responses to A Chill on the Cairngorms

  1. Skye says:

    That was lovely! When I was a child, I spent quite a bit of time going through the books of old ghost and eerie stories at the library, scaring myself silly but going back again and again. I love this kind of ghost story. Thank you!

  2. robena grant says:

    Thanks, Skye. I read a book on ghosts while in Scotland and it scared the you-know-what out of me. I brought the book home but it took years before I could re-read. Ha ha.

  3. I’m fascinated with ghost stories, and this is a legend I hadn’t heard about. I’m researching legends, such as the Draugr (Viking) and La Llorona (Spanish, the Weeping Woman), for my next ghost urban fantasy book. May have to include these! Beautifully written.

  4. robena grant says:

    Oh, you do the fantasy, sci fi, paranormal so well, Melissa. I want to read your ghost urban fantasy. : )

  5. Jackie Wisherd says:

    I love to read about old Legends….this was an interesting blog. I’ve found a new author to follow…thanks for the info.

  6. robena grant says:

    Thanks for stopping by Jackie. I love legends too. Glad you like the blog.

  7. Happy Halloween Hop, Roben! What a fun idea. I totally believe in ghosts! Thanks for this spooky post – and your pictures are great. (I’m glad you made it back home in one piece, too!)

  8. robena grant says:

    Thanks, Robin. I had fun making this story up, partially from real events on the trip and partially from a combination of old stories.

  9. A great post, Robena. You had me convinced with your Scottish tale. I grew up experiencing the wind, the mist and the lashing rain over there. You described it perfectly.

  10. robena grant says:

    What a great compliment. Thank you, Christine. I remember someone in Scotland saying that the rain doesn’t hit you from above, it always lashes at you sideways. : )

  11. Julie says:

    This will probably NOT surprise you in the least, but I must admit, I adore ghost stories !
    And oooooo, exotic beautiful foreign lands, as well! Lovely, and perfectly celebratory for the holiday. 🙂

  12. Nice ghost story, Robena. Did the 5 hops and read a couple more good ones. Really liking ghost stories, right now.

  13. robena grant says:

    Yes, I read some good ones too. Glad you did the hops. : )

  14. JeanMP says:

    Enjoyed the post. I always like reading ghost stories and legends. Gazetteer of Scottish Ghosts sounds like a book I would love to read.

  15. Mackenzie Crowne says:

    A perfectly chilling tale, Robena. Nice job.


  16. Gina Bono says:

    Roben, I loved this moody, spooky, and fun Halloween story! I’m listening to the wind howling and rain lashing outside my window right now, and this story is a perfect accompaniment to it…I’m sooo in the mood for Halloween! Thanks for this post!

  17. robena grant says:

    I’ve thought of you often today, Gina. So glad you have electricity and internet. Stay warm and dry and enjoy your extra days off from work. : )

  18. londonmabel says:

    Ah, that’s the very corner of Scotland where I went with my family many moons ago. My husband is a Grant also, but I’m a Gunn–a little further North, if I recall.

  19. robena grant says:

    I did not know that, London. So maybe your hubs and I are fourth cousins or something? ; ) I adored Scotland and would go back again in a second.

  20. robena grant says:

    ….and the winner is: Gina Bono. I’ll get your gift card in the mail today. Congratulations!

    Thank you all for sharing in the spooky fun. : ) Have a safe and happy Halloween.