This is one of several articles written by Louis Stott who generously offered local aspects of his scholarship to the archive of Loch Ard Local History Group–our thanks to Louis and his family for this material.
A notable modern collector of Folk Tales was R. MacDonald Robertson, the author of a number of distinguished books about fishing in the Highlands between and just after the wars. In Selected Highland Folk Tales (1961) he relates the following story about Loch Chon, which he calls Loch-a-Choin:
There is a chain of three beautiful lochans in West Perthshire – Loch Ard, Loch-a-Choin and Loch Arklet – situated by the main road between Aberfoyle and Inversnaid. It is with Loch-a-Choin (The Dog Loch) that this story deals. Tradition attributes to this loch a water-monster in the shape of a huge dog.
Not so very long ago, one oppressively hot summer’s day, a weary tourist sat down by the banks of Loch-a-Choin to have lunch. Soon he heard the sound of the rattle of pots and pans mingled with footfalls on the road behind him; and on looking round observed on the highway a tinker laden with various metal cooking utensils, trudging along the road in company with a young lad. To his astonishment, he saw the tinker suddenly seize the boy, and walking down to the edge of a ledge of rock, fling him into the water. Immediately after the splash of the body, there was a great swirl, and the savage head of a huge and grotesque dog-like monster broke the surface and swallowed the body of the child whole. The tinker thereafter mysteriously vanished from sight. Terrified beyond all measure the traveller fled to Aberfoyle as fast as possible. On entering the inn he met some local people and told them of his weird experience by the shores of Loch-a-Choin.
He was told that what he had just seen was the recurrence of a tragically true event which had taken place on the banks of the loch many years ago, at the same place where he had rested for lunch, and that the tinker had been found out and hanged for his evil deed. The hiker had seen the murder re-enacted on the exact date and at the exact hour when the crime was originally perpetrated. To this day, many of the older inhabitants of the district believe that the dog-monster still lurks within Loch-a-Choin, waiting for victims.
Note on the etymology of Loch Chon:
Loch Chon is literally “the loch of the dogs”; Loch a Choin is the “loch of the dog”.