ABOUT half-a-mile from the foot of Dumyat is a little well called the Holy Well or the Highlander’s Well, after the Highland drovers who probably stopped at the well for a drink as they herded their cattle to the Falkirk market.

It is also known as the Fairy Well and the waters still run cold and clear to this day.

In folklore, a tale is told of how the well got its name. There was a little fairy whose duty it was to look after certain wells renowned for their curative properties.

This fairy was called Blue Jacket, and his favourite haunt was the Fairy Well on the Sheriffmuir Road, where the water was so pure and cool that nobody could pass along without taking a drink of the magic spring.

A mouthful of this water would have such a refreshing effect that the drinker could go on his journey without feeling either thirsty or hungry.

Many travellers who had refreshed themselves at the Fairy Well would bless the good little man who kept guard over its purity and continued on their way.

One warm June day, a Highland drover from the Braes of Rannoch came along with his Highland cattle, which he was taking to Falkirk Tryst, and feeling tired and thirsty he stopped at the Fairy Well, took a good drink, and sat down beside it to rest, while his cattle grazed nearby.

The heat was too much, and he fell asleep.

While he slept Blue Jacket stepped out from the bracken and approaching the tired drover, asked him where he had come from.

The drover told him Rannoch Moor but surprised at the wee man, he asked him who he was. He replied that he was Blue Jacket and that he was the guardian of the spring he had drunk from.

The fairy asked the man his name. He told him he was Sandy Sinclair a piper, so Blue Jacket asked him to play.

The man took up his pipes and played a cheerful Highland reel. When he finished, he was greatly surprised to see above the well a crowd of little folk, like Blue Jacket, dancing to the music. As he stopped, they clapped enthusiastically.

At that point Blue Jacket blew a silver whistle and all the fairy folk arranged themselves into a double row.

Blue Jacket then took the Highland piper by the hand, led him to the front of the procession, and told him to play a march.

The well

The well

SANDY felt himself unable to resist the command of the fairy, and, putting the chanter into his mouth played his bagpipes, marching at the head of the little people.

Blue Jacket walked in front of the piper, leading all of them as they made their way to the Fairy Knowe.

When they reached the Fairy Knowe, the wee folk formed a circle round the little hill, and sang a song.

Blue Jacket once more took his whistle and, blowing three times, held up his hand, and immediately the side of the knoll opened.

Bidding the piper to play on, Blue Jacket led the procession inside the mound where the fairies formed themselves into sets.

The piper, amazed at the fairy palace, continued to play, choosing a strathspey, and they began dancing.

Meanwhile, Sandy’s cattle and sheep were doing their own thing while in the care of his faithful collie dog who kept watch.

They occasionally looked up from the grass they were busy munching, looking for Sandy, but when they did not see him, they simply returned to eating the lush pasture.

The collie was more interested in where his master had gone, but never left his post to look for him. Towards evening another drover came along with his cattle for the same tryst in Falkirk

He recognised the dog and asked him where his master was. He instructed him to find him. The dog sniffed around for a little while then trotted off in the direction taken by Sandy and the fairies the day before.

They reached the Fairy Knowe but there was no-one there. The dog ran around the knoll, barking. The drover examined every bit of the Fairy Knowe, but there was no trace of Sandy.

As the drover sat on the top of the Knowe, wondering what he should do next, he began to hear the sound of distant music.

Telling the dog to keep quiet, he listened attentively. Meantime, the dog began to scrape at the side of the mound. Noticing this, the drover put his ear to the ground. The music of the Piobaireachd came from the centre of the Fairy Knowe.

The drover knew then that Sandy had been taken by the fairies, and he was never seen again.

Many years afterwards, passers-by often heard the sound of pipe music coming from the Fairy Knowe but dared not try and enter.

The Fairy Knowe itself is the large ancient burial mound, around a mile west of the Fairy Well, above Bridge of Allan.