Loch Morar, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Highlands & Moray -

The deepest loch in the western Highlands of Scotland is beautiful Loch Morar. Gouged from the rock by glaciers, this water body reaches the extreme depth of 1,017 feet – deeper than most of the seabed off Scotland’s west coast. This rugged area has been called “the highlands of the Highlands.” The steep-sided loch is surrounded by some of the Highland’s highest peaks, such as Ben Nevis 30 miles to the southwest. As ‘hill-walking’ is a popular activity in the Highlands, Loch Morar receives plenty of holiday-makers, often on their way to conquer yet another peak.

Loch Morar is virtually uninhabited. The only road around the loch extends less than four miles along the north shore. The road ends at Bracorina, although a hiking track continues over the ridges to Loch Nevis and Loch Hourn. Swordland Lodge, with its Victorian stone lodge, was requisitioned by the Special Operations Executive as a training site during WWII and remains empty most of the time. As with much of the Highlands, the area contained a much larger population before 1900. The majority of inhabitants long ago left their small cattle farms for better jobs elsewhere, and settlements along the southern shore are now gone. Instead, the largest populated area near the loch is at Morar, a few hundred yards down the River Morar. The tumultuous River Morar is only a quarter of a mile long and drains into the River Morar Estuary. Morar is a quiet little village, particularly since the new highway bypassed the town. As such, Morar is a delightful spot to spend a holiday. It and the nearby coastal towns of Mallaig and Arisaig are well-supplied with vacation rentals in the form of bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, hotels, self-catering cottages and back-packers hostels. It is from the beach at the west end of the loch near the river that most boaters and fishermen access Loch Morar.

Boaters here enjoy sailing and power boating. Some swim areas exist along Loch Morar, but swimmers more often take advantage of the white sand beach areas of the River Moran Estuary west of the village. The primary uses of Loch Morar are nature exploration, hill-walking and fishing. Loch Morar was once noted for its prolific salmon and sea trout. Now, as with most lochs in northwest Scotland, these native fishes have nearly died out due to predation from parasitic seal lice from caged salmon farming. The loch still holds a healthy population of brown trout and Arctic char, much to the delight of avid anglers. The loch is a favorite canoeing and kayaking destination, with five relatively large islands and a number of small ones to explore. One of the larger islands, named Eilean Ban, held a seminary built before 1700. The building was destroyed in 1746, and little remains except some foundation stones.

Loch Morar is well-known in cryptozoology circles for its reported loch monster, Morag. Described in very similar terms to the better-known Nessie of Loch Ness, legend reports that Morag is the loch’s spirit in the form of a shape-shifting mermaid. Sightings were described as a death omen for the MacDonald clan. Contemporary sighting from 1900 forward describe the ‘monster’ as a serpent-like creature. Oddly enough, Lochs Quoich, Oich, Lochy, Canisp, Shiel, Assynt and Arkaig have also have reports of lake monster sightings. Some researchers theorize that these cryptids are plesiosaurs that survived extinction and have adapted to the waters of the lochs. Others suggest they may be zeuglodons, primitive serpentine whales believed to have become extinct over 20 million years ago. Certainly, if there is anything to the sightings, it must be some sea animal that entered the lochs when they were connected to the sea thousands of years ago. All investigations so far have been stymied by bad weather, equipment failure or the great depths of the lochs in question.

The River Morar is short, rapid-running and spectacular. Tamed somewhat by a weir and power generation plant installed in 1950, the river drops 30 feet in its quarter-mile length. The river opens into a long, sandy-beached estuary very popular among hikers and campers. Nearby on the coast of the Inner Seas, Mallaig’s busy harbor still supports a large fishing fleet. Arisaig has a popular marina with scheduled cruise ship service to the islands of Rhum, Eigg and Muck. The Jacobite Steam Train runs throughout the summer season with a service between Mallaig and Fort William. These amenities bring visitors to the Morar Peninsula in search of sea, sun, sand and solitude.

A visit to Loch Morar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The isolated loch is the perfect backdrop for historic epics of clan battles, legends of loch monsters and breathtaking peaks towering above the clear, deep waters. Vacation rentals can be found in Morar and the nearby villages of Mallaig, Arisaig and Fort William. Real estate is sometimes found in the area although it is doubtful anything would be available on Loch Morar’s lakefront. The perfect get-away for the student of Scottish history, lore and myth, a trip to Loch Morar will invigorate your imagination while it soothes the city-stressed soul. Come to Loch Morar – and make sure to bring the hill-walking boots!

Things to do at Loch Morar

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Hiking

Fish species found at Loch Morar

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Loch Morar Photo Gallery

Loch Morar Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Scottish & Southern Energy

Surface Area: 6,598 acres

Shoreline Length: 27 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 33 feet

Average Depth: 284 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,017 feet

Water Volume: 1,864,640 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1950

Water Residence Time: 6.87 years

Drainage Area: 65 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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