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Loch Alsh, as it moves inland, divides into two arms; the more southerly is Loch Duich, at the head of which is Glen Shiel and the river Shiel. Duich is a strikingly beautiful loch and one that has much history associated
with it. This is the territory of the Clan MacRae who for many years held the Loch Maree and the snow-capped Slioch (3,217 ft.) hereditary custodianship of these lands
as faithful retainers to the Seaforths. A MacRae was always the Constable of the castle of Eilean Donan.

 

Raised in the 12th century the sturdy old walls of the castle guarded the area where Loch Alsh divides into Loch Duich and Loch Long and stands on its own rocky islet. It was joined to the land by a strongly guarded causeway, and at each high tide the castle was cut off by water. It was considered to be impregnable.

During the rising of 1715, one of James’s futile attempts to regain his father’s throne, the castle was the
headquarters of a Jacobite force and from here they set out for the battle of Sheriffmuir. Four years later the Stuart cause was once more centred on Eilean Donan and the loch again rang to the call to arms of a strong Highland force. This was in 1719 when Spain sent some four hundred soldiers to support the Pretender’s cause. They occupied the old castle and began their preparations for battle but were forestalled by the arrival
of an English warship squadron whose broadsides rapidly reduced the old fortress to ruins.

The old castle remained a ruin until almost two centuries later when it was restored by Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap, one of whose ancestors had been appointed Constable in the 17th century.

The name Eilean Donan is thought to commemorate Saint Donan of Eigg who went north into the land of the Picts,
despite warnings from St. Columba as to his probable fate, and was murdered by Norsemen as a result.

Loch Duich Scotland
Loch Duich, Scotland.
Loch Duich - 10x8 Print (25x20cm) by Robert Harding.

Still sparsely inhabited, the shores of Loch Duich are covered with recently established plantations of coniferous trees, through which the road to the Kyle
of Lochalsh rises and dips. Only small hamlets such as Dornie, Inverinate and Kintail show along the loch shores as centres of population and, at the narrow neck where Loch Long joins Loch Duich, the ferry which formerly carried the traffic has now been replaced by the Dornie Bridge. East of the head of the loch, the National Trust for Scotland has control of fifteen thousand acres of land
which includes the Five Sisters of Kintail and Bein Fhada (3,383 feet). The area comprises some of the finest scenery in the Western Highlands.

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