Loch Eriboll

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Loch Eriboll

Loch Eriboll (Gaelic: Loch Euraboil) is a sea loch ten miles long cutting into the north coast of Sutherland, at NC445605. This loch, Great Britain's northern edge, has been used for centuries as a deep water anchorage as it is safe from the often stormy seas of Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth. It is named after the village of Eriboll on its eastern shore.

Bronze Age remains can be found in the area, including a souterrain and a very well preserved wheelhouse on the hillside above the west shore. A small scale lime industry developed here in the 19th century.

Farmhouse at Loch Eriboll

Around the shores of the loch are the crofting townships of Eriboll, Laid, Heilam, Portnancon and Rispond. Eilean Hoan is a little island at the northern, seaward end of the loch and there are various small islets in the vicinity including A' Ghoil-sgeir, An Cruachan, An Dubh-sgeir, Eilean Clùimhrig, and Pocan Smoo.

Today, Loch Eriboll and its shores are a largely unspoilt wilderness, in a region of high rainfall and with the lowest population density in the United Kingdom.

Naval use

The Royal Navy has been frequent visitors to the loch, particularly during the Second World War. Portnancon, on the western shore of Loch Eriboll, was where the company of HMS Hood spent their last shore leave before the Battle of the Denmark Strait, and there are stones arranged by sailors into the names of their warships (including Hood and Amethyst) on the hillside above the hamlet of Laid. It was nicknamed "Lock ’orrible" by the servicemen stationed here during the war because of the often inclement weather. The largest island in the loch, Eilean Choraidh, was used as a representation of the German battleship Tirpitz for aerial bombing practice by the Fleet Air Arm before the successful Operation Tungsten in April 1944.[1] The surviving 33 German U-boats, amongst them U-532 and U-295, formally surrendered here in 1945, ending the Battle of the Atlantic.[2]

A leased area of the shore and loch is classified as a Minor training area by the Defence Training Estate,[3] generally being used for amphibious and specialist training for three fortnights per year.[4]

In 2011 the loch hosted Exercise Joint Warrior, the largest war games staged in the United Kingdom, involving the navy's new flagship, the assault ship HMS Bulwark.[5]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Loch Eriboll)


  1. Haswell-Smith (2004) p. 203
  2. Wade, Mike (10 May 2010). "How Hitler’s Grey Wolves were brought to heel in a Scottish loch". London: The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article7121302.ece. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  3. "Defence Training Estate Training Areas and Ranges (map)". Defence Training Estate. Ministry of Defence. July 2009. http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6553E496-F00E-4317-A58A-3B6CCB7E3379/0/dte_map_uk.pdf. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  4. "Loch Eriboll Aquaculture Framework Plan". The Planning and Development Service, The Highland Council (The Scottish Government). August 2000. http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/2CB074AD-09D5-4D79-AE64-B76C233CB1CF/0/eriboll_aug2000_full_doc.pdf. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  5. "Bulwark takes over as UK flagship". Defence News. Ministry of Defence. 18 October 2011. http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/DefencePolicyAndBusiness/BulwarkTakesOverAsUkFlagship.htm. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  • Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543.