Loch Duich, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Highlands & Moray -

Mysterious and romantic, beautiful Loch Duich holds a special place in the history and hearts of Scotland’s West Highlands. Loch Duich featured prominently in the 1719 Battle of Glen Shiel between British government troops and an alliance of Jacobites and Spaniards, resulting in a victory for the British government forces. Eilean Donan, a small island on the loch, was one of the main strongholds of rebel forces; the castle of the same name was destroyed by the British as a result. Built in the 13th century, Eilean Donan Castle was the stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae. The castle was reconstructed in the 20th century by Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap and has become one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland. The image of the castle surrounded by the waters of the loch has graced many a label and featured in several films. But Loch Duich is just as photogenic in its own right and attracts thousands of holiday visitors every year.

One of three connected lochs, Loch Duich and Loch Long branch from the eastern end of Loch Aish. Loch Aish begins at the Strait of Kyle Akin which separates Scotland’s West Highlands from the Isle of Skye. Eilean Donan is strategically located at the spot where the two inner lochs join Loch Aish and has been a major defensive look-out point for thousands of years. The deepest spot in the three lochs is Loch Duich where the water reaches 377 feet in depth. All three lochs have been named the “Lochs Duich, Long and Aish Reefs Special Area of Conservation” for the reef structures beneath the waters and the variety of rare reef vegetation and animal life they shelter. Unusual geologic formations below the lochs show that major earth changes were involved in the formation of these fjord-like arms of the sea. However, most visitors are drawn to the area for the beautiful and historic Highlands landscapes that surround the lochs.

Fishing is a popular pastime at Loch Duich, with salmon being the main catch along with a variety of typical northern sea species. Salmon are commercially raised in limited numbers in cages at one location, an operation highly regulated to avoid damage to the unique ecology. Small boats may be rented at Letterfearn along the southwest shoreline. Many of the holiday houses and small inns near the shoreline also provide boats and fishing tackle to guests. Some fishing may also be done in the small ‘hill lochs’-small bodies of water nestled in the hills around Loch Duich.

Loch Duich has little shallow water, with the depth dropping off quite close to the shore. Porpoises and otters are often seen on the loch, reminding visitors of the local legend of the otter girls who married local men. The surrounding area holds golden eagles, deer, pine martins, badgers and wild goats along with a variety of other wildlife. In addition to Eilean Donan Castle, anther area attraction is the Glen Shiel Battleground, a National Historic Site at the far east end of the loch. The dramatic scenery, consisting of many sharp peaks surrounding the loch, attracts many visitors and honeymoon couples.

The restored Eilean Donan Castle is a popular site for weddings. The historic castle is easily accessed by a narrow bridge built from the mainland near the Village of Dornie. A visitors’ center helps to interpret the history and architecture of the castle; a visual display makes viewing the castle possible for the disabled, since the castle cannot be made handicap-accessible. One of the most poignant newer features is the World War I memorial to the fallen Macraes of that war. The inscribed names are highlighted by a few lines of a famous poem of the era written by yet another Lt. Colonel John Macrae, a Canadian soldier. The poem, “In Flanders Field” became a symbol of the loss of soldiers in the war and forever enshrined the symbol of the poppy as an emblem honoring the veterans of all wars. Although most view the island from land, visitors can take small tour boats to the island for a view of the castle from the water.

A substantial number of small lodging facilities are dotted along the shore, with self-catering holiday stays, hotels and cottages. Several small villages along the shore offer inns, restaurants and other tourist accommodations. At least two caravan parks or campgrounds are located near the shoreline. The roads, lanes and paths surrounding Loch Duich are a delight designed for the treasured Scottish walking holiday. Walking here is what is referred to as hiking or trekking in most countries. Some of the paths are quite strenuous and reach to otherwise inaccessible locations. Ranger-led walks can be arranged from Kyle of Lochalsh, the largest city on Loch Aish. Kyle Tourist Information Centre has information on all of the favored ‘walks’, boat tours, and accommodations in the area. The paths are often traveled on horseback, with horse rental available along Loch Duich.

The small scenic mountain range called the “Five Sisters of Kintail” is a fitting backdrop for the picturesque loch and a favorite among those engaged in the sport of ‘Munro bagging’. In the Highlands, a munro is a mountain reaching over 3000 feet. The name originated with Sir Hugh Munro who produced the first list of such peaks in Scotland. The Scottish Mountaineering Club publishes a list of 282 Munros in Scotland, and those engaged in the sport climb or ‘bag’ as many peaks as possible. Three of these munros are located in the Five Sisters of Kintail range. Those who are accustomed to peaks above 14,000 feet may think this is an easy climb, but the munros are very steep with unsteady footing; they are subject to sea-driven winds and inclement weather and require a considerable amount of caution.

One archeological feature common in this area of the Highlands is the Pictish broch. These mysterious circular stone ruins are located throughout the area with one on the southwest entrance to Loch Duich opposite Eilean Donan. It is unclear who built these towers; the location of the one nearest to Loch Duich appears to have been a defensive look-out as it overlooks the area where the three lochs come together. Other ruins are located nearby. The brochs are only one of the features that make a holiday near Loch Duich a favored destination. The nearby Isle of Skye at the mouth of Loch Aish holds a number of Mesolithic sites along with sites evidencing early Norse settlement in the area. Clan heritage is strong here; local history regarding Highland clans, battles and dramas are a favorite topic of discussion.

No trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to the Scottish Highlands and Loch Duich. The beautiful scenery, colorful local history and serenity of the loch surrounded by the green peaks of the Five Sisters of Kintail will make a memorable vacation. .

* Very few statistics for Loch Duich are available.

Things to do at Loch Duich

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Loch Duich

  • Salmon

Loch Duich Photo Gallery

  • Eilean Donan castle, in the Scottish Highlands, seen at dusk.

Loch Duich Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Saltwater Lake, Not Dammed

Shoreline Length: 14 miles

Maximum Depth: 377 feet

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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".

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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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