Martina Wagenaar


the western seaboard: an illustrated architectural guide, mary miers, 2008

Location: Road to the Isles and Knoydart

The legend of Loch nan Eala

In the strath of Arisaig, there is a tradition of the Chief of Clanranald being able to fish from the window of his house at Loch nan Eala (the loch of the Swans).

His plain Laird house was certainly extended in 1819 into a mansion featuring a flat terrace overlooking the loch, a kitchen garden and planted woodland, its spiralling costs contributing to Clanranald’s bankruptcy!

In 1864, new owner F.D.Palmer-Astley had the house demolished to build Arisaig House a mile away, designed by Arts and Craft architect Philip Webb, whilst some of the garden survives at Larachmor. He also had a canal dug from Loch nan Eala to the sea to drive his sawmill at Mains farm. The loch shrank in size, revealing a few years later a well-preserved Iron Age crannog on its south edge. A foot higher than the surrounding land, the crannog was described in 1911 as consisting of a square platform of criss-crossed layers of timbers roughly 5.49 by 5.49m. The first layer was oak, the second and third were birch laid in the same way with another two or three layers of smaller birch timber laid across underneath, the whole lot enclosed by sloping stays at a 45° angle. Flagstones were visible on top as well as the ashpit at the centre. Barely visible today, the site is scheduled as the only crannog in West Lochaber.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.