Loch Maree

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Loch Maree
Loch Maree.jpg
View of the islands
Location Northwest Highlands, Scotland
Coordinates 57°41′23″N 5°27′27″W / 57.68972°N 5.45750°W / 57.68972; -5.45750Coordinates: 57°41′23″N 5°27′27″W / 57.68972°N 5.45750°W / 57.68972; -5.45750
Catchment area Beinn Eighe, Slioch, Fisherfield, Glen Docherty, Coulin, Slattadale, Talladale
Basin countries United Kingdom
Max. length 20 km (12 mi)
Max. width 4 km (2.5 mi)
Surface area 28.6 km2 (11.0 sq mi)
Average depth 125 ft (38 m)
Max. depth 375 ft (114 m)
Water volume 38.5×10^9 cu ft (1.09 km3)
Islands 30 (Isle Maree)
Designated 19 September 1994
Reference no. 700[1]

Loch Maree (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Ma-ruibhe) is a loch in Wester Ross in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. At 20 km (12 mi) long and with a maximum width of 4 km (2.5 mi), it is the fourth largest freshwater loch in Scotland; it is the largest north of Loch Ness. Its surface area is 28.6 km2 (11.0 sq mi).

Loch Maree contains five large wooded islands and over 60 smaller ones,[2][3] many of which have their own lakelets. Isle Maree has the remains of a chapel, graveyard, holy well, and holy tree on it, believed to be the 8th century hermitage of Saint Máel Ruba (d. 722), who founded the monastery of Applecross in 672. The same island contains ancient stands of oak and holly which have been linked with ancient Scottish druids.[citation needed]

The waters of the loch were also thought to have curative effects, with being submerged in the water thought to be a cure for lunacy. All of the loch's islands are conservation areas. The largest is the only island in Britain to contain a loch that itself contains an island. Like Loch Ness, Loch Maree has its own monster in the form of the muc-sheilch. The loch is often referred to as the most beautiful loch in the Highlands.[citation needed]


Due to its remote location there is little industry and tourism surrounding Loch Maree. Early on, it became a popular spot for trout fishing after Queen Victoria visited the Loch Maree Hotel at Talladale in 1877,[4] a visit which led to the naming of Victoria Falls, an attractive waterfall feeding the loch from Beinn Eighe on its south side.[citation needed]

In 1893, there was a proposal to build a branch railway from Achnasheen to Aultbea along the south shore of Loch Maree; this would have increased Victorian tourist traffic, as well as provided a service for fisheries and the mail; the plan was abandoned.


Loch Maree is of international importance for its special wildlife and biodiversity. Until recently, thousands of adult sea trout (seagoing brown trout Salmo trutta) and salmon (Salmo salar) returned to the loch from the sea every summer. Sea trout gathered in huge numbers in certain bays, providing some of the most exciting angling in Scotland for which the loch had an international reputation. A British record sea trout of 19.5 lb was caught on a "dapping fly" in the loch in 1952.[5] The sea trout fishery collapsed in the 1980s and 1990s.[6]

Sea trout and salmon are an important part of Loch Maree's ecosystem providing food for black-throated diver and otter (Lutra lutra) for which the loch is a designated Special Area of Conservation and Special Protected Area under the EU Habitats Directive. Juvenile trout can be an important part of the diet of black-throated diver.[7] The loch also has two separate populations of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) about which little is known. One form of charr, with a big eye which feeds on the bottom in deep water matures at less than 15 cm. The other form grows to over 32 cm and can sometimes be seen in shoals ruffling the surface when the loch is calm.[8]

Loch Maree was designated a Ramsar site on 19 September 1994.[9] The area hosts the golden eagle.[citation needed]


Slioch seen from the shores of Loch Maree

The loch is bounded to the east by Slioch, a mountain over 3000 feet high, and which dominates its surroundings. It is composed mainly of Torridonian sandstone of Precambrian age. It is a popular for hill walking, scrambling and climbing. The main peak to the west is Beinn Eighe, a Torridonian mountain capped with quartzite.

In media[edit]

Button-box accordionist, Fergie MacDonald topped the Scottish pop charts in 1966 with the tune "Loch Maree Islands" which pays tribute to the views of the Loch, and vocal versions have been recorded by many artists over the years, notably Calum Kennedy.

In the 2009-10 series of the BBC's Natural World, episode 6, Highland Haven, stayed closer to home than usual, with a year-long look at the environment and wildlife of the UK's oldest National Nature Reserve, Beinn Eighe, along the southern shores of Loch Maree.[10]

Loch Maree is mentioned in the Runrig song "The Summer Walkers" from the album The Stamping Ground.[11]

And it's up by the Shin
And up by the 'Naver
And the long winding shores Of Loch Maree
By Ben Hope and Ben Loyal
Stack and by Arkle
The road reaches far
Now the summer is here

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Loch Maree". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018. 
  2. ^ "Loch Maree Islands - Scotland's National Nature Reserves". Nnr-scotland.org.uk. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  3. ^ "Loch Maree Wester Ross – Scotland Info Guide". Scotlandinfo.eu. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Unattributed (3 September 1879). "A Highland Loch". The Times (29663). p. 6. 
  5. ^ "Loch Maree Hotel: The best in Western Scotland". Malcolm Mowat's. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Wester Ross Fisheries Trust: Sea Trout". Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "Browse journals by subject". Informaworld.com. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  8. ^ ADAMS, COLIN E.; WILSON, ALASTAIR J.; FERGUSON, MOIRA M. (2008-12-01). "Parallel divergence of sympatric genetic and body size forms of Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, from two Scottish lakes". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 95 (4): 748–757. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2008.01066.x. ISSN 0024-4066. 
  9. ^ "Loch Maree". Ramsar Sites Information Service. 2006. Retrieved 11 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Interview on Two Lochs Radio, 27 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012.