Loch an Eilein

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Loch an Eilein

Loch an Eilein is a modestly sized, irregular shaped and famously beautiful freshwater loch in the Rothiemurchus Forest of Inverness-shire. It is about a mile long and half a mile wide, overspreading 139 acres, and is found some three miles south of Aviemore, in the very eastern confines of the county and within the Cairngorms National Park

The name 'Loch an Eilein' is Gaelic and means 'Lake of the Island'.[1] Walks around the loch are popular.[2]

History of usage

Lime kiln at Loch an Eilein

On the banks of the loch stands is a lime kiln: in the 18th and 19th centuries, limestone was quarried from a rockface looking over the loch and burnt for lime in the kiln. Also foresty was a busy activity and loggers used the connecting river to float logs down to the wood-treating factories downstream.

Rob Roy and other cattle rustlers used the loch, and one side of the loch is called 'Robbers Way'.

There are only three remaining houses by the loch. One of the former farm sites is now being used as the location for the Loch an Eilein Gallery.[3]

Loch an Eilein castle

Loch an Eilein Castle

In the middle of the loch, on what may be a natural island, are the ruins of a small 14th century castle. It was originally constructed as a place of refuge from thieves and threatening activities. The castle is said to have once been the property of Alexander Stewart the Wolf of Badenoch.

The castle was the site of conflict. The Jacobites, retreating from the Battle of Cromdale in 1690, besieged the castle and Dame Grizel Mor Grant, widow of the fifth laird Grant, held the castle against them. The castle fell out of use in the late 18th century.

Loch an Eilean Castle may have originally been connected to the shore by a causeway which became submerged when the water level in the loch was raised by estate work and the building of a dam in the 18th century.[4] The castle was used as the site of the island graveyard in BBC Television’s ‘Monarch of the Glen’.

About the park

Engraving of a view of the loch by James Fittler (Scotia Depicta, 1804)
Pine tree at Loch an Eilein

Located in Cairngorms National Park, the loch and the forest around it are popular with birdwatchers, walkers, mountain bikers and day-trippers.[5] Among the birds found on or around Loch an Eilein are the crested tit, common redstart, spotted flycatcher, tree pipit, red-throated diver, common sandpiper, whinchat, and the occasional merlin.

The Loch an Eilein park has numerous facilities, including washrooms, visitor centre, and a car park. It is notable for its accessibility due to the flat and even nature of the three-mile trail which loops around the loch.[6]