Loch Achray

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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Achray (Gael. achadh-reidh, 'smooth field'), a 'lovely loch' of SW Perthshire, lies on the mutual boundary of Callander and Aberfoyle parishes, 7½ miles W by S of Callander, and midway between Lochs Katrine and Venachar, its distance from each being about 1 mile. By the former it is fed through Achray Water, to the latter it sends off the Dubh Abhainn, belonging thus to the basin of the Teith. From W to E 1¼ mile long, and from 2 to 3 furlongs broad, it is bounded at its head by the Trossachs, flanked on their left hand by Ben Venue (2393 feet), and on their right by Meall Gainmheich (1851 feet), whilst in the NE ' Benledi's distant hill ' rises to a height of 2875 feet. On the northern shore are a little church, a manse, and the castellated Trossachs Hotel, where Hawthorne stayed in July 1857: the farm of Achray standsat the SW angle, on the level patch that gave the loch its name. There are boats: and the fishing (trout, salmon-trout, pike, and perch) is good, and open to the public. The Lady of the Lake (1810) has made the world familiar with Achray's beauties, so sweet and lonely in its ' copsewood grey; ' but others than Scott had found those beauties out-Coleridge, and Wordsworth, and his sister Dorothy. The last in her Journal (27 Aug. 1803) describes the lake as ' small compared with Loch Katrine, though perhaps 4 miles long, but the misty air concealed the end of it. The transition from the solitary wildness of Loch Katrine, and the narrow valley or pass to this scene was very delightful: it was a gentle place, with lovely open bays, one small island, cornfields, woods, and a group of cottages. This vale seemed to have been made to be tributary to the comforts of man. Loch Katrine for the lonely delight of nature, and kind spirits delighting in beauty. The sky was grey and heavy- floating mists on the hill-sides, which softened the objects: and where we lost sight of the lake, it appeared so near to the sky that they almost touched one another, giving a visionary beauty to the prospect. While we overlooked this quiet scene, we could hear the stream rumbling among the rocks between the lakes, but the mists concealed any glimpse of it which we might have had. ' Again, on 11 Sept., she writes:- ' We came up to that little lake, and saw it before us in its true shape in the cheerful sunshine. The Trossachs, overtopped by Ben Ledi and other high mountains, enclose the lake at the head: and those houses which we had seen before, with their cornfields sloping towards the water, stood very prettily under low woods. The fields did not appear so rich as when we had seen them through the vale of mist: but yet as in framing our expectations we had allowed for a much greater difference, so we were even a second time surprised with pleasure at the same spot. We went as far as these houses of which I have spoken in the car, and then walked on, intending to pursue the road upon the side of Loch Katrine along which Coleridge had come: but we had resolved to spend some hours in the neighbourhood of the Trossachs, and accordingly coasted the head of Loch Achray, and pursued the brook between the two lakes as far as there was any track. Here we fould, to our surprise-for we had expected nothing but heath and rocks like the rest of the neighbourhood of the Trossachs-a secluded farm: a plot of verdant ground with a single cottage and its company of outhouses. We turned back, and went to the very point from which we had first looked upon Loch Achray when we were here with Coleridge. It was no longer a visionary scene, the sun shone into every crevice of the hills, and the mountain tops were clear. ' See also Alexander Smith, A Summer in Skye, chap. ii.: and Passages from the English Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne, vol. ii., pp.303-308.—Ord. Sur., sh. 38,1871.

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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