Oykel, River

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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Oikell, a river of Sutherland and Ross-shire, rising at an altitude of 1500 feet above sea-level, and running 35 ¼ miles south -south westward and east-by-southward along the mutual border of Creich parish in Sutherland and Kincardine in Ross-shire, through Loch Ailsh (7.- x 4& furl.; 498 feet) and the Kyle of Sutherland, till it falls at Bonar-Bridge into the head of the Dornoch firth, which, strictly speaking, is its estuary. The Oikell's- principal tributaries are the Cassley and Shin on its left bank, and the Einig and Carron on its right. Several hundred yards above the inn of OikellBridge, which is 18½ miles WNW of Bonar-Bridge and 18 WSW of Lairg station, the Oikell, tumbling along a rugged and declivitous channel, makes a series of wild cataracts, which terminate in one bold and very formidable fall. The banks which overhang this multiplied linn are quite precipitous, and exhibit from their crevices, at- spots where no soil can be detected by the eye, several large fir trees springing up from curiously twisted roots. For several miles below this point, the vale of the stream, or Strathoikell, is flanked by heathclad hills, whose dreariness is relieved only by occasional clumps of stunted birch and a few verdant meadows on the margin of the stream. Three miles above the influx of the Cassley, an impetuous burn tumbles headlong into the vale; and at a brief distance from its mouth rises an elevated grassy bank, which is crowned by a burying-ground. This part of the vale is called Tuitean Tharbhach ('fertile fall of slaughter')-a name which alludes to a fierce onslaught, towards the close of the 14th century, on a freebooting party of the Macleods of Lewis by a body of the men of Sutherland. From Tuitean-Tharbhach to the Cassley the stream runs tortuously along a winding strath; and, while markedly Highland in its screens, has a profusion of birch and alder coppice upon its immediate banks, and, in one place, is overhung by a forest of firs. At the junction of the Cassley a fine view is obtained of Rosehall House, embosomed in extensive woods, near the foot of Glen-Cassley, and of the old walls of Castle-na-Coir, situated in a meadow on the left bank of the Oikell. The river is navigable by boats from the sea to Rosehall, and brings up the tide to a point only 1½ mile lower down. The united waters of the Oikell and the Cassley form a fine large river, and make a well-defined boundary-line between Ross and Sutherland. The strath, down to Bonar-Bridge at the head of the firth, is everywhere beautiful, and forms part of the ancient district of Ferrinbusklyne or Sleischillis, which the bishops of Caithness obtained in the 12th century as a gift from the Earls of Sutherland. From Rosehall to about 3 miles above the influx of the Shin, it forms on the one side a craggy barrier, and on the other a low expanse of continued forest, and winds perpetually in its progress; lower down are broad meadows along the edge of the stream, pretty clumps of coppices on the declivities, and groups and sprinklings of neat stone cottages picturesquely perched upon rocky heights. The Oikell yields capital salmon and trout fishing.—Ord. Sur., sh. 102, 1881.

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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