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This twelve miles long loch is almost a continuation of Loch Ewe, a sea-loch on the coast of Ross and Cromarty. being joined to it by the river Ewe which is only two miles in length. It is generally considered that the two were once one and added emphasis to this argument is given by the fact that the town that stands at the head of Loch Maree is named Kinlochewe. Loch Maree is studded with many picturesque wooded islets some of which have interesting stories attached to them, With heavily
wooded shores and steep and majestic mountain peaks, dominated by Slioch (3.217 feet), rising around it, many people consider that Loch Maree deserves the title of the loveliest of all Scotland’s lochs.

 

It takes its present name from Saint Maolrubha, the saint who crossed from Ireland to convert the Western Highlands, and one of the islets on the loch is called Eilean Marui, St. Maolrubha’s Island. It is said that the
Saint had his cell and lived here for a number of years but the island has known older legends going back before
the coming of the Christians. The Druids are said to have worshipped on the island and tales of the sacrificial slaughter of bulls at certain times of the year lingered
down into the 17th century.

A Holy well on the island is said to have had the power of healing the sick and the mentally ill. Apparently the person to be cured was taken, bound hand and foot, into a boat which was rowed round the island three times. On each circuit he or she was thrown overboard and ducked into the loch. Having survived this treatment the patient was then required to drink from the Holy well. In order to ensure that a cure was effected, and to leave nothing to
chance despite all the duckings, an offering was made by the placing in a ancient tree of a coin or a nail. This old
oak became embedded with coins over the centuries and even Queen Victoria adding her contribution during a visit
made in 1877. The oak tree eventually became the symbol of the cure, the well having fallen into disfavour after a man had washed a mad dog in its waters. The
tree died during World War I and was removed but it was later re-instated, nails, coins and all.

The old pines that stand watch on the shores of the loch are among the survivors of the great Caledonian Forest which once spread widely over this part of the Highlands. Largely felled during the 17th and 18th centuries, it is only recently that replanting has been begun with help from the Forestry Commission. The beautiful scenery and the noble mountains around Loch Maree give the impression that man had wisely left the setting untouched but this was in fact not the case.

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