Loch Maree

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Maree, Loch, a magnificent fresh-water lake of Gairloch parish, W Ross-shire. Commencing at a point 115/8 miles WNW of Auchnasheen station, and lying 32 feet above sea-level, it extends 12 3/8 miles north-westward, with a varying breadth of from 3 furlongs to 2¼ miles, a general depth of 360 feet, and an area of 1l square miles or 7090¼ acres. On all sides it is overlooked by mountains of great height and beautiful contour, so that its shores present an inexhaustible variety of the most romantic and interesting scenery. The loftiest are Ben Sleoch (3217 feet) to the NE, and Ben Eay or Eighe (3309) to the SW. From the former of these the Lewis, with the town and bay of Stornoway, can be distinctly seen. The effect of this superb mountain, seen at once from its base to its summit, is, perhaps, more striking than that of any other mountain in the Highlands. At the western extremity, Ben Lair (2817 feet) is a principal feature in the landscape-graceful, solid, broad-; and where its skirts descend steep into the water, the scenes are peculiarly original and grand. The northern margin of Loch Maree presents a great variety of scenery, consisting of rocky and wooded bays, and creeks rising into noble overhanging cliffs and mountains; here also are displayed some of the finest general views of the lake. But there is one portion of the margin of the lake so peculiar as to deserve the most minute description, and that of Dr M'Culloch is so vivid and so true, that we cannot refrain from extracting it:' In one place in particular, the remains of a fir forest, in a situation almost incredible, produce a style of landscape that might be expected in the Alps, but not among the more confined scope and tamer arrangements of Scottish mountains. Immediately from the water's edge, a lofty range of gray cliffs rise to a great height, so steep as almost to seem perpendicular, but varied by fissures and by projections covered with grass and wild plants. Wherever it is possible for a tree to take root, there firs of ancient and noble growth, and of the most wild and beautiful forms, are seen rising above each other, so that the top of one often covers the root of the succeeding, or else is thrown out horizontally in various fantastic and picturesque modes. Now and then some one more wild and strange than the others, or some shivered trunk or fallen tree, serves to vary the aspect of this strange forest, marking also the lapse of ages, and the force of the winter storms which they have so long braved.'

The bosom of Loch Maree is gemmed with islands of varied size and appearance. They are 27 in number, and lie chiefly in a cluster on the middle of the lake, where it is broadest. The chief of these, all noticed separately, are Ellan-Subhainn, Ellan-Maree, and Ellan-Rorymore or Ruairidh-Mor. The lake is supposed at one time to have had a much lower level than it now has, and to have been raised to its present level by the accumulation of sand and gravel at the lower end, by which the water was dammed in. Indeed there is reason to think, that Lochs Maree and Ewe originally formed one lake, under the name of Loch Ewe, as the village near the head of Loch Maree is named Kinlochewe or' head of Loch Ewe.' Loch Maree contains salmon, sea-trout, yellow trout, and char, though the first are very seldom caught; and the river Ewe, flowing from it, is almost the best angling water on the W coast of Scotland, abounding with salmon of princely size and quality. A steamer was launched on the lake in 1883. The Talladale or Lochmaree Hotel, on the SW shore of the lake, opposite the group of islands, and 9 miles NW of Kinlochewe, is an excellent establishment, erected in 1872, and honoured from the 12th to the 18th of September 1877 by a visit from Queen Victoria and the Princess Beatrice. A rock of pale red granite bears a Gaelic inscription recording this visit, which is fully described in More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands (1884). There is a post and telegraph office of Lochmaree under Dingwall.—Ord. Sur., shs. 92, 91, 1881-82.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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