Loch Shin, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Highlands & Moray -

Loch Shin is a long and narrow glacial lake located in County Sutherland, part of the Scottish Highlands. This freshwater loch measures about 17.5 miles (28.2-kilometers) long with a maximum width of only one mile (2.2 kilometers). Loch Shin is oriented in a general northwest to southeast direction, with the head of the loch among the hills and the foot of the loch leading to the more populous area of Lairg, located at the eastern end. Although depths plunge to a maximum of 162 feet (49.3 meters), with an average depth of 51 feet (15.5 meters), Loch Shin is considered relatively shallow for a Scottish glacial lake.

Beauty and serenity envelop Loch Shin. The vibrant woodlands extend fully to the edge of the water in many areas, and the loch is surrounded by breathtaking natural views. Ben More Assynt is a Munro (a term for a mountain that exceeds 3,000 feet [914.4 meters] in height) just to the west of Loch Shin, its height an impressive 3,273 feet (997.6 meters). The north side of the loch is more accessible due to its proximity to the main road in the area, which follows along much of the shoreline, gracing visitors with placid views of the lake and local wildlife, including otters, pine martens, wildcats and waterfowl.

The Falls of Shin are a very popular natural attraction, featuring a rocky gorge with a 20-foot (6-meter) drop to a very deep pool. After the waterfalls, the water becomes calm once again. The Falls of Shin are situated 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from Lairg to the southeast on the River Shin. The falls can be reached via wooden walkways, and parking is available nearby on the southern shore area. Viewing platforms have been erected to give visitors an excellent opportunity to watch powerful salmon of all sizes leap against the falls in spawning season. For the patient and the lucky, photo opportunities can be one of a kind.

It should go without saying, then, that this loch is popular for salmon fishing. There is also a plentiful population of wild brown trout and char. Swimming, boating, rafting, water skiing and other assorted water sports are always at the ready in the mild seasons. The Lairg Dam, located at the foot of the loch in Ross-shire, was constructed in the 1950s and began functioning in 1957; the impact on Loch Shin was an increase of more than 30 feet (9.1 meters) in depth. Little Loch Shin, the small regulating reservoir that Loch Shin flows into, is especially popular for water activities. About 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) south of the town of Lairg is the Shin power station at Invernan, which receives the water from the reservoir through 5 miles (8 kilometers) of tunnels. After Little Loch Shin, the water forms the River Shin, a small river only 7 miles (11.3 kilometers) in length. This river feeds into the Dornoch Firth and then drains to the North Sea.

Lairg is a traditionally popular vacation destination, as its central location leaves trips to other points in Scotland a moderate distance away. Lairg is only an hour from Inverness by car. Although Lairg is a small town with a population of around 1,200, it is a hub of activity for locations north of Inverness. Roads from every direction converge on this town, which is located on the southeast shore of Loch Shin. With the rail station found only a mile south of Lairg, the town is accessible to locals and travelers alike, and all modern needs can be found in this little mountain village. The climate and geography of this area has made it central to Scotland’s sheep farming industry. The rail station is part of the Far North Line, and its location has made Lairg a convenient area for auctioning of sheep, which typically occurs in August. In fact, the Lairg area is one of the largest sheep auctioning centers in the British Isles.

In Lairg, a variety of restaurants and shops sit ready to charm holiday-makers, as do the local pubs and other small establishments. Lodges, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts provide overnight accommodations in the area. Vacations rentals are available in the form of isolated cabins, holiday bungalows and self-catering accommodations, including campsites and caravans, beyond the traditional cottages and holiday lodge rentals. Real estate is available for those wishing to purchase a holiday home or create a dream retirement lodge in the Scottish Highlands.

If there is one area of County Sutherland to visit, the area around Loch Shin is a wonderful choice–for its natural beauty, diverse surroundings and proximity to other popular and renowned vacation destinations in Scotland.

Things to do at Loch Shin

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing

Fish species found at Loch Shin

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Loch Shin Photo Gallery

Loch Shin Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Scottish and Southern Energy

Surface Area: 5,570 acres

Shoreline Length: 38 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 270 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 268 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 276 feet

Average Depth: 51 feet

Maximum Depth: 162 feet

Water Volume: 284,206 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1957

Lake Area-Population: 1,200

Drainage Area: 158 sq. miles

Trophic State: 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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