Loch Morar

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For the steamship, see SS Loch Morar.
Loch Morar
Loch Morar.jpg
Location Lochaber, Highland
Coordinates 56°56′30″N 5°40′21″W / 56.94167°N 5.67250°W / 56.94167; -5.67250Coordinates: 56°56′30″N 5°40′21″W / 56.94167°N 5.67250°W / 56.94167; -5.67250
Type freshwater loch, dimictic, oligotrophic
Primary inflows River Meoble
Primary outflows River Morar
Catchment area 168 square kilometres (65 sq mi)
Basin countries Scotland
Max. length 18.8 km (11.7 mi)
Surface area 26.7 km2 (10.3 sq mi)
Average depth 87 metres (284 ft)
Max. depth 310 m (1,017 ft)
Water volume 2.3073 cubic kilometres (81,482,000,000 cu ft)
Surface elevation 9 metres (30 ft)

Loch Morar (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Mhòrair) is a freshwater loch in Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. It is the fifth-largest loch by surface area in Scotland, at 26.7 km2 (10.3 sq mi), and the deepest freshwater body in the British Isles with a maximum depth of 310 m (1,017 ft). The loch was created by glacial action around 10,000 years ago, and has a surface elevation of 9 metres (30 ft) above sea levels.


The Morar Group of sediments were deposited in the latter part of the Cambrian, and subsequently subjected to many phases of deformation.[1] Loch Morar is located entirely within this group, and was created by glacial action during the Loch Lomond Stadial.[1] It is not a sea loch due to isostatic rebound that raised the sill at the end of the loch.[2]

The catchment area of the loch is 168 square kilometres (65 sq mi), and the geology is base-poor.[3]


Loch Morar is 18.8 kilometres (11.7 mi) long, has a surface area of 26.7 km2 (10.3 sq mi), and is the deepest freshwater body in the British Isles with a maximum depth of 1,017 ft (310 m).[4][5] In 1910, John Murray and Laurence Pullar found it to have a mean depth of 284 feet (87 m) and a total volume of 81,482,000,000 cubic feet (2.3073 km3) during their survey of Scottish lochs.[6] The bottom is deepened below the United Kingdom Continental Shelf, and until 1943, when a depth of 1,062 feet (324 m) was observed in the Sound of Raasay, it was believed to be the deepest water in the United Kingdom.[7][8]

The water of the loch is clear and oligotrophic, and the main inflow is the River Meoble, which drains from Loch Beoraid, although there are other major inflows at the eastern end of the loch.[3][9] The outflow is the River Morar at the western end, which at a few hundred metres long is one of the shortest rivers in the British Isles.[3][10] At the shallower eastern end of the loch, there are a number of sizeable forested islands.[9][11] The surface of the loch is 9 metres (30 ft) above sea level.[12]

At the western end of the loch is the village of Morar, which is between Arisaig and Mallaig on the coastal A830 road. The settlements of Bracorina and Bracara are located along the northern shore of the loch, but there is no road along the southern shore.[9] Tarbet, on the shore of Loch Nevis, is a short distance from Loch Morar.[9]

Swordland Lodge, on the northern shore of the loch, was used as training school STS 23b during the Second World War by the Special Operations Executive.[13][14] A 750 KW hydroelectric power station with a hydraulic head of 5.5 metres (18 ft) was built on the River Morar in 1948.[15][16]


The loch is surrounded by a mix of natural woodland, open hillside, sheep and cattle pasture and planted mixed coniferous and broadleaf woodlands.[17] Loch Morar's fish population is believed to be limited to Atlantic Salmon, brown trout and sea trout, Arctic char, eel, stickleback, and minnow.[3][18] Trout average around 0.75 pounds (0.34 kg) in size, but ferox trout of up to 15 pounds (6.8 kg) have been caught.[19]


Main article: Morag (loch monster)

In common with Loch Ness, occasional reports of large unidentified creatures in the loch's waters are made. The monster has been dubbed Morag.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b "Geology of Loch Morar" (PDF). lochmorar.org.uk. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Hambrey, M. J. (1994). Glacial Environments. UBC Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-7748-0510-0. 
  3. ^ a b c d Walker, Andrew (1996). A Repeat Survey of Salmon and Trout Stocks in the Loch Morar System (Report). Fisheries Research Service. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Uploads/Documents/Coll1496.pdf.
  4. ^ Martin, Paula (2005). Lochaber: a historical guide. Birlinn. p. xix. ISBN 978-1-84158-241-2. 
  5. ^ Reed, Michael (2002). The Landscape of Britain. Routledge. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-134-72804-6. 
  6. ^ "Bathymetrical Survey of the Fresh-Water Lochs of Scotland, 1897–1909". maps.nls.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Robinson, A. H. W. (1949). "Deep clefts in the inner sound of Raasay". Scottish Geographical Magazine 65: 20. doi:10.1080/00369224908735399.  edit
  8. ^ Mort, Frederick (2013) [1914]. The British Isles. Cambridge University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-107-63281-3. 
  9. ^ a b c d Google Inc. "Loch Morar". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@56.9603146,-5.6298173,12z. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Morar, River". scottish-places.info. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  11. ^ National Library of Scotland. Loch Morar (Map). http://maps.nls.uk/view/74422165. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  12. ^ Shine, Adrian (17 February 1983). "The Biology of Loch Ness". New Scientist (Reed Business Information) 80 (1345): 462–467. ISSN 0262-4079. 
  13. ^ Rigden, Denis (2004). How to be a Spy: The World War II SOE Training Manual. Dundurn. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-55488-191-8. 
  14. ^ David Harrison. "Special Operations". her.highland.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Morar Power Station". scottish-places.info. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Morar Dam, Hydro-electric Power Scheme". scotlandsplaces.gov.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Wildlife Around Loch Morar". lochmorar.org.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Fish Populations". lochmorar.org.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Fishing on Loch Morar". lochmorar.org.uk. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  20. ^ Campbell, Elizabeth Montgomery; Solomon, David John (1972). The Search for Morag. Tom Stacey. ISBN 0-85468-093-4. 
  21. ^ "Cryptozoology". lochmorar.org.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 

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