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Ranza, Loch

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Loch Ranza, a small village, situated round the head of a bay or loch of the same name, on the N coast of Arran, Buteshire. The loch, which opens from Kilbrannan Sound, pierces the land in a SSE direction, and has a length of 7 furlongs and a breadth of ½ mile. At its upper end, a grass-covered peninsula, terminating in a shingly spit, stretches almost across the loch, and leaves only a narrow opening for the water to pass into the inner harbour, formed by this natural breakwater. This harbour affords safer anchoring ground than the loch, which is much exposed to sudden squalls, and, in consequence, the fishermen prefer to lay their boats up in it. In the herring-season, however, the loch is often crowded with fishing-boats, as it is conveniently near Loch Fyne, Kilbrannan Sound, etc. Beyond the harbour lies a stretch of marshy ground, through which the Ranza Burn flows by many channels to the sea. On both sides of the loch the hills rise to a considerable height, while the low ground behind the harbour is backed by the range of Caisteal Abhael (2735 feet), Meall Mor (1602), and Torr Nead an Eoin (1057), mountains which are separated by two glens. On the E is Glen Chalmadale, up which passes the carriage road to Corrie; and on the W is Glen Easan Biarach, which contains some very grand scenery. Such are the natural surroundings that belong-

` To the lone hamlet, which her inland bay
And circling mountains sever from the world.'

The village of Loch Ranza may be approached either by land from Brodick (15 miles SSE) or direct by sea, the Campbeltown steamers stopping off the mouth of the bay, and a large ferry-boat going out for goods and passengers. It contains a post-office under Greenock, an inn, a public school, two or three small shops, a line of cottages on the W side of the bay, and a few houses, irregularly dotted round the head and E side of the loch. The Free church is a neat, modern building of reddish sandstone. Service is held regularly in it, and it is the only church in the neighbourhood, the nearest Established church being at Brodick. Loch Ranza gives name to a registration district. Pop. (1861) 824, (187l) 777, (1881) 714.

Loch Ranza Castle stands upon the peninsula which stretches across the bay. All that now remains is a square tower with thick walls, which, combined with its situation, must have made the Castle almost impregnable. The building is now roofless. Although it is not known when the Castle was erected, it must be very old, since it is mentioned as ` a hunting-seat of the Scottish kings in 1380, when it was regarded as one of the royal castles.' Like many other places in Arran, Loch Ranza and its castle are associated with the name of Robert the Bruce. No vestige now remains either of the chapel, built by Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, or of the convent of St Bride.—Ord. Sur., sh. 21, 1870.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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