Loch of Strathbeg

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Looking southeast across the loch
View across the loch
The RSPB Starnafin visitors centre

The Loch of Strathbeg (also known as Loch Strathbeg or historically "Strathbeg Water"; "Water of Strathbeg"; "Rattray Water" or "Water of Rattray") is an loch in Aberdeenshire, near Rattray and Crimond, very close to the coast of the North Sea, from which it is separated by no more than a dune-strewn sand bar known as the Black Bar. The loch is at approximately NK075585.

The loch is designated Special Protection Area for wildlife conservation purposes. It is maintained by the RSPB and around the loch there are three hides from which visitors may watch the birds and other wildlife. Access to the loch is through Crimond airfield where there is a car park at the edge of the reserve. There is also the 'Starnafin Centre' from which visitors may also watch the birds from and find out more information about which birds and animals are present locally.

The RSPB records over 260 species of bird, 280 species of insect and 26 species of mammal at the reserve.[1]


The loch is a very recent creation of geological times, forming naturally in a massive storm in 1720. The lagoon, where the loch is now, its small harbour Starny Keppie and the village of Rattray, were cut off from the sea and engulfed by shifting sands.[2]

A historical account says that the storm blocked "the outlet of the stream called the burn of Strathbeg into the sea"[3] after which it flowed directly into the loch.

There is another stream, the "Burn o’ Rattra"[2] flowing into the loch. Ordnance Survey mapping of the Loch shows four streams ("burns" in Scots) and one exit point into the North Sea.

1854 study

In 1854 the loch was estimated at "50 Scotch acres"[3] of which "more than three-fourths" were to be found in the Parish of Crimond and to have an "average depth is about 3½ feet" "its greatest depth does not exceed 6½ feet".[3]

This account does not necessarily correspond with conditions today, as the same source also notes that the nearby beach head was at the time saturated and "oozing water" indeed it says that the loch had dropped at least 4 feet since 1817, only 37 years earlier.

Historical maps of the area are available online that show the transition of Strathbeg Bay into Loch Strathbeg between 1636–1652, when a map shows the loch more like a lake than an estuary, to 1883, when the map shows the Loch in the approximate shape of today.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Loch of Strathbeg)


  1. Loch of Strathbeg – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  2. 2.0 2.1 Stanley Bruce (2005). The Bard O' Buchan Vol 1'. Bard Books. ISBN 0-9547960-2-0. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy (1854). The New Statistical Account of Scotland. W. Blackwood and Sons. http://books.google.com/books?id=6RkvAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA712&dq=Crimond#PPA218,M1.