Loch Maree, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Highlands & Moray -

Remote, desolate, historic, beautiful: all of these describe Loch Maree. Located in the Highlands and Morey Region of Northwestern Scotland, Loch Maree is the fourth largest Loch in Scotland and the largest north of Loch Lomond. Fed by the Kinlochewe River and multiple smaller rivers, it forms the headwaters of the River Ewe. The River Ewe empties into Loch Ewe, a bay on the west seacoast of Scotland, less than a mile from Loch Maree. The deep narrow loch has a well-deserved air of mystery – and even a legend of a monster known as Muc-Sheilch. No pictures of Muc-Sheilch exist, only reported sightings of a large dark form sighted on rare mornings when the fog lifted. Rumors persist that there was once a futile attempt to drain the loch, and efforts to poison it at another time, so perhaps early landowners did succeed in driving the monster back to the sea. The name Maree is not, as many assume a derivation of Mary; the loch was named for St. Maelrubha, a seventh-century saint of the Celtic Church.

Loch Maree is primarily known as a great fishing lake: sea trout, salmon and arctic char are found in the lake. The fishery became extremely popular after Queen Victoria visited the Loch Maree Hotel at Talladale in 1877, a visit which also led to the naming of ‘Victoria Falls’, a lovely waterfall feeding the loch from Beinn Eighe on its south side. Due to its remote location, Loch Maree has little industry or commerce in the immediate area. A few local hotels and farm cottages provide lodgings for fishermen, hikers and nature enthusiasts who visit the loch. Often considered the most beautiful loch in Scotland, the nearly 13-mile long loch is up to 375 feet deep in some places and known to blow up some vicious storms with little warning. The fishing is under the control of several local hotels who rent boats and guides to fishermen. The guide service is necessary, as much of the area is protected as a nature preserve, and because the loch can be treacherous to those unfamiliar with its waters.

Around 30 islands are located in Loch Maree, one with the ruins of an early castle. Another has a complicated history considered by some to be an early Druid holy site. Prehistoric ruins predate the remains of an 8th century chapel, cemetery, holy well and ‘wish tree’ connected with St. Maelrubha. The holy well, now dry, was reputed to cure madness. Oddly, Isle Maree contains holly bushes not found on the other islands. Other islands are protected as breeding grounds for rare waterfowl and birds such as the black-throated diver and osprey. Canoeing and kayaking among the cluster of islands is a popular pastime with visitors. Landing on the islands is allowed except during active nesting seasons. The island grouping lies close to the south shore of the loch, much of which is occupied by the complex mountain ridge, Beinn Eighe. The north face of the mountain is protected public land named Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, a favorite for hiking, climbing and wildlife viewing. From the heights, the view across Loch Maree features the impressive sandstone face of Slioch, a very different type of mountain rising over 3200 feet. Several car parks and camping grounds along the south shoreline offer easy access to the many trails of Beinn Eighe. A highway travels along most of the south shore of the loch – the north shore is a bit harder to get to.

The northern shore of Loch Maree is accessible only by footpath or boat. Much of the lakefront is public nature reserve property, but the remains of two old ironworks and a smelting furnace and sawmill still exist. The footpath passes several picturesque waterfalls. A portion of the north shore is the Letterewe Estate – 90,000 acres of meadows, mountains, rivers and small lochs in private ownership but managed for hunting, fishing and nature tourism. In the hands of the former Laird of Gairloch and the Mackenzie family for centuries, the property now belongs to the estate of a wealthy Scotsman, and the various lodging facilities are available as holiday houses or cottages. Letterewe is popular as a deer stalking ground, where hunters carry supplies in and game out on ponies. Wildlife and game on the Letterewe Estate are scientifically managed to assure optimum breeding and populations.

The far eastern reaches of Loch Maree near the outlet to the River Ewe contains small settlements and farms accessible by road from Poolewe. Although a small town, Poolewe offers a campground, swimming pool, several restaurants, self-catering guest cottages, secluded beaches and loads of quaint charm. An ancient church dedicated to St. Maelrubha makes for a picture-perfect photo opportunity. Two hotels serve holiday-makers who enjoy the quiet harbor protected within Loch Ewe. On the far side of the south end of the loch, Inverewe Gardens showcase the efforts of one man to wrest a lovely garden on the windswept point. Blessed by the warm Gulf Stream current, the barren point was reclaimed by Osgood Mackenzie beginning in the mid-1800s. In 1952, Mackenzie’s daughter donated the gardens and an endowment for its upkeep to the National Trust for Scotland. Only six miles southwest of Poolewe, the larger town of Gairloch is the epitome of a highland town. The old city sprawls along the eastern shoreline of the loch to the harbor called Charlestown. Gairloch possesses several hotels, a campground, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, shops and an excellent golf course. A ‘must-see’ location is the Gairloch Heritage Museum, where the history of the Highlands from the Bronze-Age to modern times is told. Find out about the two clans, the MacLeods and Mackenzies, who fought for dominance of the area until King James IV granted the lands to the Mackenzies in 1494. The family still owns much of the land in the area.

Visiting Loch Maree is the prefect holiday for those who enjoy solitude, hiking, historic lore and fishing. Vacation rentals in the form of farm cottages, guest cottages and holiday houses can be found, often with Loch Maree vistas. Real estate on Loch Maree is not commonly available, but other nearby locations in the immediate area can sometimes be found. Pack the hiking boots, the fishing gear and the canoe – Loch Maree will steal your heart. You’ll soon realize there’s a little McLeod or Mackenzie in all of us. So, come home to Loch Maree! And bring your tartan.

Things to do at Loch Maree

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Loch Maree

  • Char
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Loch Maree Photo Gallery

Loch Maree Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 7,067 acres

Shoreline Length: 31 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 33 feet

Average Depth: 125 feet

Maximum Depth: 375 feet

Water Volume: 883,838 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 171 sq. miles

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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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