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Inverie, on the Knoydart peninsula

Knoydart (Gaelic: Cnòideart) is a Highland peninsula, on the wild west coast of Inverness-shire.

Natural environment

Knoydart extends between Loch Nevis and Loch Hourn; names which often translated as Loch Heaven and Loch Hell respectively.

Ladhar Beinn from Eileann Choinneach

The northern part of what is traditionally known as na Garbh-Chrìochan or "the Rough Bounds", because of its harsh terrain and remoteness, Knoydart is also referred to as "Britain's last wilderness". Only accessible by boat, or by a 16-mile walk through rough country, its seven miles of tarred road are not connected to the general road system of Great Britain.

Knoydart is popular with hill walkers, mountaineers, sailors and wildlife enthusiasts. It includes in its narrow bounds four Munros:

The peninsula is designated as a National Scenic Area,[1]


In the 12th century, Knoydart formed part of the Kingdom of the Isles under Somerled (who died 1164), before passing to the Macruari branch of his descendants - the eventual heiress of whom married John of Islay (died circa 1386). The Macdonald family that held Knoydart from the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century is generally believed to have descended from Allan Macdonald, 2nd of Clanranald (died circa 1429). However, in the early 17th century, Macdonell of Glengarry succeeded in wresting control of Knoydart from Clanranald, receiving official confirmation of his ownership from King James VI in 1613.[2] Before the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion the population numbered nearly a thousand and in spite of much emigration, mainly to Canada, remained at that level in 1841.

Memorial to the Seven Men at Inverie

In 1852 four hundred of the inhabitants were given notice of eviction for the following year and offered passages overseas, originally to Australia, but later their destination was changed to Canada. On 9 August 1853 three hundred and thirty inhabitants from the west coast of the peninsula went on board the Sillery and left for Canada. However, 11 families comprising over 60 people refused to go and the story of their eviction became notorious as part of the cold-hearted execution of the Highland Clearances. Knoydart was finally sold by the MacDonell family in 1856, passing into the hands of an Ayrshire ironmaster, James Baird of Cambusdoon.

In 1948 an unsuccessful land raid was undertaken by the 'Seven Men of Knoydart' who attempted to claim land in the ownership of the estate for their own use. Their claims were contested by the estate owner, the Second Baron Brocket who took the case to the Court of Session which ruled against the land-raiders. An appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland was rejected and the Seven Men gave up their fight to obtain crofts on Knoydart. A cairn commemorating the Land Raid was unveiled at Inverie in 1981.[3]

Present day

Inverie is the main village on the peninsula, with a resident population of roughly 60 adults. There is a post office, a primary school, and a variety of accommodation for visitors, including B&Bs, bunkhouses and self-catering accommodation. The Old Forge Inn, Knoydart's only pub, is reckoned the remotest on mainland Britain.[4][5]

A vehicle track runs from Inverie to the smaller settlement of Airor, on the west side of the peninsula, a little over 8 miles. On its way to Airor, the track passes the settlements of Sandaig, and Doune (the location of the peninsula's only restaurant). The track is a designated public highway and is maintained by the council; however in common with the Small Isles, a resident or visitors permit is required to drive on the road. [6]

Access by boat is provided by several operators. The council subsidised ferry is operated by Knoydart Sea Bridge[7] who operate several frequently-running small boats. Additional passenger, equipment and mail services are operated from Mallaig to Inverie by Western Isles Cruises,[8] previously known as Bruce Watt Cruises.[9] Various passenger and equipment services are offered by private boat operators.[10]

The Knoydart Foundation

The Knoydart Foundation was established in 1997 to take ownership of the 17,500-acre Knoydart Estate which makes up much of the peninsula.[11] The Foundation bought the estate in 1999.[12] It is a partnership of local residents, the Council, the Chris Brasher Trust, Kilchoan estate and the John Muir Trust. Their aim is to preserve, enhance and develop Knoydart for the well-being of the environment and the people.

The Foundation operates a micro hydro-electric scheme which provides power to the estate. In 2009 the Knoydart Foundation celebrated 10 years of community ownership with an extensive timetable of events including a music festival, ceilidhs, volunteer weeks, talks, an art display and a book reading by the author Ian McEwan.[11]

In May 2005 the Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company hosted its first conference in Inverie, during which the company was officially launched.[13] A new pier at Inverie was officially opened on 24 August 2006.

Outside links


  1. "National Scenic Areas"
  2. Dennis Rixson, Knoydart: a history (Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh, 1999)
  3. MacDougall, A. (1993). Knoydart: the Last scottish Land Raid. Billingham, Cleveland: Lindhurst Publications. 
  4. "Old Forge". Retrieved 22 April 2007. 
  5. Hutchison, Colin (12 November 2006). "Remote patrol". Sunday Herald (Glasgow). 
  6. Knoydart Permits. "Knoydart Permits". Highland Council. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  7. "Knoydart Ferry Service". Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  8. "Knoydart Ferry Service". Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  9. "Knoydart Ferry Service". Retrieved 22 April 2007. 
  10. Getting Here. "Getting Here". Knoydart Foundation. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Knoydart Foundation". Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  12. "Residents' buy-out victory". BBC News. 2 March 1999. Retrieved 22 April 2007. 
  13. HIE News (2006-04-18). "Community Energy: Leading from the Edge". Retrieved 22 April 2007.