Loch Awe, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Central -

Also known as:  Lake Awe

Scenic Loch Awe is located in central Scotland’s Argyll and Bute Council region. Renowned for its trout fishing, the lake is a fantastic holiday getaway for anglers and also offers numerous islands, castle ruins, and open water for paddling, boating and exploring. Kilchurn Castle, one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, sits on an island at the northeastern end of Loch Awe. Unspoiled, yet easily accessible, Loch Awe and the surrounding area have much to offer.

Loch Awe, like many of the lakes in the area, is a natural freshwater lake formed by retreating West Highland glaciers nearly 10,000 years ago. As the glaciers moved across the land, an accumulation of rocks and debris at the southern end of what would become Loch Awe blocked all drainage of the route, and the pent-up water spilled along an old geological fault line through the Pass of Brander. To this day, Loch Awe drains from its northern end through the River Awe and Loch Etive to the Atlantic Ocean, rather than through its southern end and into Loch Crinan.

With a length of just over 25 miles (41 km), Loch Awe is the longest freshwater lake in Scotland with a surface area of 9,514 acres (38.5 square km). A very narrow lake with an average width of 0.62 miles (1 km), it still manages to provide 80 miles (129 km) of shoreline for the development of charming villages, sprawling estates, and magnificent mansions.

Fishing and boating are the main forms of recreation on Loch Awe. Fly fishing for brown trout is a common sight along the banks as well as trolling in the deep water for salmon. Salmon pass through the lake, making their way past the barrage in the River Awe and continuing on to the River Orchy. Rainbow trout escapees from fish farms in the area can also be found in the lake, but are considered a threat to the wild brown trout population, and not popular with local anglers. In 2002, a nearly 32 pound (11.94 kg) brown trout was caught in Lock Awe, setting a new British record. Char, perch, and pike also make their home in the lake. The current record for pike in Loch Awe stands at 35.5 lbs (13.3kg). Pike fishing is open year round and can provide some excellent winter fishing excitement. Boat rentals are available from marinas on the lake and allow visitors to spend an enjoyable day fishing or exploring Loch Awe`s castle ruins and fascinating islands. Many secluded beaches along the shoreline make an excellent spot for a picnic and a swim.

Visitors to Loch Awe will find accommodations and vacation rentals of all kinds in the many villages and towns around the lake. Superb hotels, charming bed and and breakfasts, comfortable guesthouses and wonderful lakefront and lake view self-catering options in the form of holiday cottages, farm houses, flats, and chalets abound. Caravan, camping parks, and motor home rentals can also be found in the area.

For the outdoor enthusiast, Loch Awe and the surrounding area offer hiking, cycling, climbing, pony trekking, shooting, golfing and wildlife watching opportunities. Bicycles can be rented from many of the larger villages. The castle ruins are a big attraction to the area. Four castles, including the famous Kilchurn Castle, dot the islands and shoreline. Kilchurn Castle was built around 1437 and is an absolute must visit. The castle sits on an island in the northeastern end of Loch Awe and can be visited in the summer months by boat or by a half mile (805 m) walk from a small park near the River Orchy.

The villages around Loch Awe make a great base for touring the many rivers, lochs, mountains, glens and local attractions. Distillery tours; loch cruises; the gardens of Benmore, Arduaine and Crarae; the West Argyll Forest District; the Beinn Cruachan and Ben Lui mountains, the city of Oban – the seafood capital of Scotland and the gateway to the Isles where ferries sail to Mull, Iona, Staffa and Colonsay Invervary Castle and jail; Glencoe; Loch Tay; the village of Loch Awe (or Lochawe); and Kintyre are all within an easy drive. A scenic drive around the perimeter of Loch Awe provides for an unforgettable day.

Loch Awe is also the site of two hydroelectric projects. A conventional turbine power station, created by damming the River Awe in the Pass of Brander, creates electricity as water flows through underground pipes on its way to Loch Etive. A second more unusual pumped storage project uses a man-made loch in the Cruachan mountains above Lock Awe. Water is pumped up the hill during times of surplus power and used to power generators at times of peak demand. The project is known as the Cruachan Hollow Mountain Power Station and has a visitor center which includes tours into the heart of the mountain.

There are always plenty of things to see and do at Loch Awe, no matter what time of year you visit. Venture inside a hollow mountain, relax on the beach, cruise the tranquil water of the lake, play a round of golf, take a walk through the forest, or visit a beautiful garden. Loch Awe, may be famous for its great fishing, but non-anglers find the area to be paradise as well.

Things to do at Loch Awe

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Loch Awe

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Loch Awe Photo Gallery

  • View east from Kilchurn Castle

Loch Awe Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Scottish Hydro-Electric

Surface Area: 9,514 acres

Shoreline Length: 80 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 119 feet

Average Depth: 105 feet

Maximum Depth: 307 feet

Water Volume: 972,856 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1961

Water Residence Time: 0.7 years

Drainage Area: 324 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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