Loch Shiel, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Highlands & Moray -

Also known as:  Loch Seile

Surrounded by one of the few remaining areas of true wilderness in Scotland, the picturesque scenery around Scotland’s Loch Shiel has been featured in movies such as Harry Potter and Highlander. Loch Shiel is a natural freshwater lake formed from a retreating glacier at the end of the last ice age nearly 10,000 years ago. At a length of 17 miles, this lake is one of the longest in Scotland. Its unregulated water levels are fed by the Rivers Finnan, Amhainn Shlatach, Callop, Glenaladale, and Polloch; River Shiel is the primary outlet. The area is a remote and unspoiled part of the Scottish Highlands that you won’t want to miss.

The fluctuating scenery along Loch Shiel’s 4,942-acre surface area attracts many wildlife enthusiasts. Enclosed by mountains to the northwest and surrounded by bog and rough pasture to the southwest, the lake hosts a variety of species. Wildlife such as red deer, black-throated divers, and 10 species of dragonflies and damselflies inhabit the area. Woodlands of oak and birch are also home to rare insects and mammals like the chequered skipper butterfly, wildcat, and red squirrel. Near the lake is an estate where the rare Diapensia Lapponica, a plant that survived the ice age, can be found; however, the location is kept a secret to preserve it. You are guaranteed to see nature at its purest since Loch Shiel has a remarkable concentration of national and international designations for nature conservation.

Visitors to Loch Shiel will find self-catering holiday cottage accommodations and vacation rentals at the northern and southern tips of the lake. Eagle-watch cruises showcase the golden eagle and capture the magnificent and historic scenery of Loch Shiel. With isolated beaches perfect for romantic picnics and family barbecues, this lake provides peaceful privacy on your getaway.

The town of Glenfinnan is located at the north end of Loch Shiel. The town’s train station, most famous for its appearance in the Harry Potter films as the Hogwarts Express, takes you to a railway museum. Acharacle is a town at the southern end of the lake that offers a magnitude of activity ideas. In the summer you can expect water sports, canoeing, kayaking, and a game of golf on some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. If you visit in the winter you can enjoy the warmth of a cozy cottage with a spectacular view.

Loch Shiel also provides plenty of trout fishing. Trolling, dapping, and fly fishing are permitted along the lake between April and September. Salmon numbers are on the rise, but Loch Shiel is famous for its late runs of sea trout. You will find a plentiful amount of brown trout that in recent years have reached over 13 pounds. A favorite method of fishing is trolling, and later in the season these fish rise eagerly to the fly.

History buffs know that Loch Shiel was once used as a communications route through the mountains during the 1140 battle where Somerled defeated the Norse to found the ruling dynasty of Lord of the Isles. The River Shiel was easily navigated during that time period, but today the depth drops to less than a foot in some areas. There are also historical structures such as St. Finnan’s Church, located on one of Loch Shiel’s islands, and the Glenfinnan Monument in commemoration of Bonnie Prince Charlie (18th century Prince Charles Edward Stuart).

These days it’s hard to find a piece of nature that is unblemished by society, but Loch Shiel is just that with a quaint population of around 350. If you are seeking a trip with exquisite views and ample privacy, Loch Shiel is the perfect place to settle down with plentiful real estate and vacation resorts.

Things to do at Loch Shiel

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Loch Shiel

  • Brown Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Loch Shiel Photo Gallery

Loch Shiel Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 4,942 acres

Shoreline Length: 48 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 15 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 12 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 16 feet

Average Depth: 133 feet

Maximum Depth: 420 feet

Water Volume: 729,642 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 1.4 years

Lake Area-Population: 354

Drainage Area: 86 sq. miles

Trophic State: Northern oligotrophic to southern mesotrophic

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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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