River Naver near Achargary
|Length||29 km (18 mi)|
Strathnaver or Strath Naver (Scottish Gaelic: Srath Nabhair) is the fertile strath of the River Naver, a famous salmon river that flows from Loch Naver to the north coast of Scotland. The term has a broader use as the name of an ancient province also known as the Reay Country (Scottish Gaelic: Dùthaich MhicAoidh), once controlled by the Clan Mackay and extending over most of northwest Sutherland.
Loch Naver lies at the head of the strath, in the shadow of Ben Klibreck. The loch is 10 km (6 mi) long and 33 m (108 ft) deep. The Altnaharra Hotel at the western end of the loch has been used by anglers since the early 19th century. Just below the loch, the Naver is joined by the River Mallart coming down from Loch Choire. It then flows through the Naver Forest and under the road bridge at Syre. The Langdale Burn and Carnachy Burn are other major tributaries as the strath widens out and flows into the sea at Bettyhill.
There is evidence of Neolithic settlements in the strath, and there is a broch by Loch Naver at Grummore dating to between 100BC and 100AD The Nabaros is mentioned by the Egyptian writer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. The name may derive from nabh, an Indo-European root meaning "cloud". There are many brochs dating from the 9th to 12th centuries in the strath, reflecting the frequency of Viking raids on the area. The Vikings were finally defeated at the Battle of Dalharrold, at the east end of Loch Naver in the late 12th century.
The area has traditionally been associated with Clan Mackay but was coveted by the Earls of Sutherland for many centuries before they finally bought it from the Mackay clan chief Lord Reay early in the 18th century. In 1230 the title Lord Strathnaver was created as a courtesy title for the heir to the earldom.
Angus Dow Mackay, the ancestor of all the Mackay chiefs, attained power in around 1408. By 1427 he was important enough to be one of the chiefs summoned to a parliament in Inverness, where they were arrested by James I. At that time he had 4000 men under his command according to the Scotichronicon; such power led to his nickname of Enneas-en-Imprissi, "Angus the Absolute".
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
|This section requires expansion with: geology and flora. (March 2009)|
The River Naver is designated a Special Area of Conservation due to its importance for Atlantic salmon ( Salmo salar), and Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera). At one time there was a significant pearl fishery on both the Naver and Mallart.
The river has long enjoyed a reputation as a productive salmon river. The area is now being marketed to non-fisherman as "Mackay Country".
The B871 road runs along the west side of the strath from Altnaharra, alongside Loch Naver, through Syre to a junction with the A836 a few miles south of Bettyhill. This road together with an unclassified road running south from the east end of the Invernaver bridge through Skelpick, connects the Strathnaver Trail of historic sites.
- Highland Railway Loch Class - Number 132 of this class of railway engines was named Loch Naver
Notes and references
- Mackenzie, A.F.D.A. F. D. (July 2004), "Re-imagining the land, North Sutherland, Scotland", Journal of Rural Studies 20 (3): 273–287, doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2003.11.001
- Strathnaver Trail, Highland Council, 2003 - good general history of the area.
- Mackenzie, Alexander, History of the Mackenzies, p. 67
- Site Record for Creag-Drumi-Doun; Strathnaver, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Places Creag-Drumi-Doun at grid reference NC695610
- Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances, Secker & Warburg, 1963. Chapter 2 - The Year of the Burnings
- River Naver SAC, Joint Nature Conservation Committee
- www.abandonedcommunities.co.uk - the clearance of Strathnaver from 1814–1819
- www.mackaycountry.com - promotes tourism to the region