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Loch an Eilein: A Serene Highland Lake in Scotland

Loch an Eilein is a picturesque freshwater loch in the Rothiemurchus Forest, about 5 km south of Aviemore, Scotland. Loch an Eilein is a part of Cairngorms National Park, one of Scotland’s most stunning parks. The name “Loch an Eilein” comes from the Scottish Gaelic language and means “Loch of the island.” The loch is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the surrounding forest and mountains providing a breathtaking backdrop.

As close as it is to Loch Ness, tourists often neglect this beauty, given its lack of fame. Yet, it’s home to a castle ruin, it has fantastic lookouts, and there are virtually no humans! If you are in the area, you would be cutting your nose off not to take the time to explore Loch an Eilein.

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One of the main attractions of Loch an Eilein is the ruined island castle located in the middle of the loch. Loch, an Eilein Castle, dates back to the late 14th century and was built as a place of safety against marauding clan war bands who used the so-called “Thieves’ Road” along the eastern shores of the loch to descend on Strathspey in search of plunder. The castle adds an extra layer of intrigue and history to the already stunning scenery of the loch.

Loch An Eilein Scotland

Loch an Eilein is a popular destination for walkers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. The loch has several short walking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape and opportunities to spot local wildlife, including red squirrels and Scottish crossbills. Whether visitors are looking for a peaceful picnic spot or an adventure in the great outdoors, Loch an Eilein has something to offer everyone. It’s also a tiny loch that you can walk around the perimeter in a few hours.

The Loch has been voted the UK’s best picnic spot!

Historical Significance of Loch an Eilein

The name “Loch an Eilein” comes from the Scottish Gaelic and means “Loch of the island.” Dense forests surround the loch, and it is home to an island castle that was built in the late 14th century. The castle was built on a natural defensive site, and its origins are uncertain. However, it is believed that between 1222 and 1298, the Bishop of Moray chose the island’s south end to build a half-house surrounded by a defensive wall.

Loch an Eilein has a rich history and was used mainly for two purposes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. On the banks of the loch, there is a limestone kiln where the lime was burned to create fertilizer for the nearby fields. The loch was also used to transport timber from the surrounding forests. The wood was cut and floated down the River Spey to the coast.

During the 14th century, the island castle was built as a place of safety against marauding clan war bands, who used the so-called “Thieves’ Road” along the eastern shores of the loch to descend on Strathspey in search of plunder. The castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin. Today, the castle is a popular tourist attraction and is accessible by boat or you can view it by walking around the loch.

Location Of Loch an Eilein

Address: Loch an Eilein, Aviemore PH22 1QT, UK

Loch An Eilein Entry

It is easily accessible by car or public transport, and a car park is near the loch. Visitors can also reach the loch by foot or bike via the nearby forest trails.

The loch and surrounding area are home to diverse flora and fauna. An ancient Caledonian pine forest, home to various wildlife, including red squirrels, pine martens, and bird species, surrounds the loch. The loch is also home to various fish, including brown trout, famous among anglers.

Visitors can enjoy a leisurely walk around the loch, enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding forest and the nearby Cairngorm Mountains.

Attractions and Activities

Loch an Eilein Castle

One of the most popular attractions at Loch an Eilein is the 13th-century island castle. The castle was built as a place of safety against marauding clan war bands, who used the so-called ‘Thieves’ Road’ along the eastern shores of the loch to descend on Strathspey in search of plunder. Although the castle is in ruins, it remains an impressive sight and an excellent spot for photography enthusiasts.

Loch an Eilein Castle

This castle is stunning to view. Look at all the moss embroiling it’s once sturdy walls! Despite being considered unsafe, I would love to make it on the castle and take a good look around. However, it’s not as close to the shoreline as Innis Chonnel Castle on Lock Awe. If you are hoping to boat over to it you might need a decent dingy it’s definitely not a swimmable one.

Walking and Hiking Trails

Loch an Eilein is an excellent place for those who love hiking and walking. The track around the loch is vast and almost paved in parts, making it accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Several hiking trails lead through the surrounding forest, offering stunning views of the loch and the castle ruins. Visitors can retrace the steps of the Highland cattle raiders as they enjoy views of the dramatic and mysterious Highland castle.

Walking and Hiking Trails At Loch An Eilein

The Limestone Kiln

There are also ruins or what’s left of the original limestone kiln that you can explore:

Ruins At Loch an Eilein

Wildlife Observation

Loch an Eilein is home to various wildlife, including red squirrels, Scottish crossbills, and a range of waterfowl. Visitors can observe the wildlife from a distance and enjoy the exceptional wildlife of this forest. The forest is also home to various other animals, including deer and otters. Visitors are advised to keep a respectful distance from the wildlife and not to approach or feed them.

Fishing At Loch an Eilein: A Serene Highland Lake in Scotland

in the Rothiemurchus Estate. The loch fishing is a catch-and-release-only area. You need a permit to fish Loch an Eilein. Most anglers that fish here come for pike!

Permits Are Available From:

Rothiemurchus Esate, Inverdruie, Aviemore
Phone: 01479 810647

Conservation Efforts

Loch an Eilein is a beautiful natural resource that has been the subject of numerous conservation efforts. One such initiative is the work of the Rothiemurchus Estate, which owns and manages the land around the loch. The estate has implemented several measures to protect the area’s natural habitat and wildlife, including removing non-native plant species and restoring native trees.

In addition to these efforts, the estate has also worked to reduce the impact of human activity on the loch and its surroundings. This includes limiting access to certain areas and implementing visitor guidelines to ensure visitors enjoy the area without damaging it.

The Store

Located in Rothiemurcus on Loch an Eilein, the White Croft Company is a small family-run business set in an old traditional croft. It sells organic soaps, wax melts, homewares, collectibles, and sewing items, in addition to a few snacks for hungry visitors.

Shop At Loch An Eilein

Visitor Guidelines

To help preserve the natural beauty of Loch an Eilein, visitors are encouraged to follow specific guidelines when exploring the area. These guidelines include:

  • Staying on designated paths and trails to avoid damaging the fragile ecosystem
  • Refraining from littering or leaving any waste behind
  • Respecting wildlife and not disturbing any animals or birds
  • Not lighting fires or using barbecues in the area
  • Keeping dogs on a leash at all times to avoid disturbing wildlife and other visitors
Visitor Guidelines

By following these guidelines, visitors can help to ensure that Loch an Eilein remains a beautiful and thriving natural resource for years to come.

In Literature and Media

Loch an Eilein has been a source of inspiration for many authors and artists over the years. One of the most famous examples is the novel “The Silver Darlings” by Neil M. Gunn, which features the loch as a prominent location. The book is set in the 19th century and tells the story of fishermen relying on the loch for their livelihoods.

In addition to literature, Loch an Eilein has also been featured in several films and TV shows. One of the most notable examples is the 1965 film “The Heroes of Telemark,” which used the loch as a stand-in for a Norwegian fjord. More recently, the loch was featured in the popular TV series “Outlander,” set in 18th-century Scotland.

Local Legends

Loch an Eilein is steeped in local legends and folklore. One of the most famous stories is that of the “Water Horse,” a mythical creature that is said to inhabit the loch. According to legend, the Water Horse is a shape-shifting creature that can take on the form of a horse or a human. It is said to lure unsuspecting travelers into the water and drown them.

Another popular legend is that of the “Wolf of Badenoch,” a notorious Scottish nobleman who is said to have built a castle on the island in the loch. According to legend, the Wolf was a cruel and wicked man who terrorized the local population. It is said that his ghost still haunts the castle to this day.

Visitor InformationOpening Times and Seasons

Loch an Eilein is open to visitors throughout the year. The park is open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. However, visitors are advised to check the park’s website for any changes in opening times, especially during the winter months when the park may be closed due to adverse weather conditions.

Loch an Eilein offers visitors a range of amenities and facilities. The park has washrooms, a visitor center, and a car park. The park’s facilities are accessible due to the flat and even nature of the five-kilometer trail loops around the loch.

Loch An Eilein Scotland

Visitors can picnic on the loch’s shores or explore the island castle’s ruins. The park also offers opportunities for hiking, cycling, and birdwatching. Visitors are advised to wear appropriate clothing and footwear when visiting the park.

Frequently Asked Questions

What activities are available at Loch and Eilein?

Walking and Hiking Trails At Loch An Eilein

Loch an Eilein is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities. Visitors can enjoy walking, hiking, cycling, and fishing in and around the loch. The surrounding Rothiemurchus Forest is also great for wildlife spotting and birdwatching.

Is there a walking trail around the loch, and how long does it take to complete?

Loch-An-Eilein-View

Yes, a walking trail that circles the loch is approximately 4.5 kilometers long and takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. The trail is relatively easy and suitable for all ages and abilities.

Can visitors access the castle located on the island in the loch?

Loch an Eilein Castle

Unfortunately, visitors cannot access the castle located on the island in the loch. The castle is a historic ruin and is unsafe for visitors to enter.

Are there facilities such as toilets or a car park at Loch an Eilein?

Loch An Eilein Entry

Yes, there are facilities available for visitors at Loch an Eilein. A car park and public toilets are located near the loch. However, visitors should note that the car park can be busy during peak season.

Is wild camping permitted in the area surrounding Loch an Eilein?

must have camping gear

Wild camping is not permitted in the area surrounding Loch an Eilein. Visitors must use designated campsites or seek permission from landowners before camping in the area.

What wildlife can be typically spotted around Loch an Eilein?

Otter

Loch an Eilein is home to various wildlife, including red squirrels, pine martens, and otters. Visitors may also spot a range of bird species, such as crested tits, ospreys, and golden eagles. Respecting the wildlife and their habitats while visiting the area is important.

Closing Thoughts

Loch an Eilein has had a significant cultural impact on Scotland and beyond. Its stunning natural beauty and rich history continue to inspire artists and storytellers. Loch an Eilein is a beautiful park offering visitors various amenities and facilities. Loch an Eilein is an excellent place for those who love nature and history. With its stunning scenery, rich history, and diverse wildlife, it is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Scottish Highlands.

Loch an Eilein has a rich and fascinating history that is still evident today. The castle on the island is a testament to the defensive strategies of the past, and the loch continues to be a beautiful and popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

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