Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Glenshiel

Glenshiel, a Highland parish of SW Ross-shire, containing Clunie and Shiel inns, the former of which, standing 2½ miles above the head of Loch Clunie, is 52 miles SW of Inverness, 25 WSW of Invermoriston on Loch Ness, 22 WNW of Invergarry on Loch Oich, 12 ESE of Shiel Inn at the head of salt-water Loch Duich, 21 ESE of Glenelg on Sleat Sound, and 28 ESE of Bavmacarra on Loch Alsh. The parish is bounded NW by Kyle Rhea Strait and Loch Avsh, dividing it from the Isle of Skye, N by Loch Duich and Kintail, and on all other sides by Inverness-shire, viz., NE by Kilmorack, E by Kiltarlity, S by Kilmonivaig, and SW by Glenelg. Its utmost length, from WNW to ESE, is 24 miles; its width varies between 51/3 furlongs and 9¼ miles; and its land area is 57, 320 acres. Loch a' Bhealaich (¾ x ¼ mile; 1242 feet) vies just beyond the northern border, in Kintail; and the northern part of Glenshiel is drained by the clear-flowing Croe, formed by two head-streams at an altitude of 180 feet, and running 5¼ miles north-westward and westward through Glen Lichd and along the Kintail border to the head of Loch Duich; whilst the river Lyne, with its expansion, Loch Lyne, winds 7¾ miles eastward along the southern boundary on its way to the Clunie. The river Shiel, rising on Sgurr Coire na Feinne, close to the southern border, at 2900 feet above sea-level, runs 1¾ mile north-north-eastward, then 8½ miles north-westward, till below Shiel Bridge it falls into the head of Loch Duich. Hill Burton describes its glen- ' a narrow valley, pierced by the deep, roaring torrent, with precipitous mountains rising on either side to a vast height, and only to be crossed by rugged winding footpaths, unknown except to the natives. ' Also on Sgurr Coire na Feinne, within 5 furlongs of the Shiel, the Clunie rises at 2500 feet, thence running 15/8 mile north-north-eastward, next 5¼ miles east-by-northward and east-south-eastward to the head of Loch Clunie (43/8 miles x ½ mile; 606 feet), whose upper and broader 1½ mile belongs to Glenshiel parish. Thus on the selfsame mountain these two streams have their source- the Shiel flowing towards the Atlantic, the Clunie towards the Moray Firth; which shows that here is the very Dorsum Britanniœ, the backbone of Scotland .And truly the scenery is grandly alpine, chief summits eastwards to N of the Shiel and the Clunie being Sgurr na Moraich (2870 feet), pyramidal Sgurr Fhuaran or Scour Ouran (3504), *Beinn Fhada or ben Attow (3383), *Sgurr a' Bhealaich (3378), and *Garbh ieac (3673); to S, *Sgurr Mhic Bharraich (2553), the *Saddle (3317), *Agnate air Troth (3342), and Creag a' Maim (3102), where asterisks mark those heights that culminate right on the confines of the parish. Up Glen Clunie and down Glen Shiel runs the old military road from Fort Augustus, with a summit-level of 889 feet-a height exceeded by that of the pass (1500 feet) between Strathaffric and Shiel inn, and of the Ratagan Pass (1072) between Shiel inn and Glenelg. The western division consists of Letterfearn district, extending from the foot of Glenshiel proper to Kyle Rhea, and exhibiting a charming mixture of vale and upland, gentle slopes along Lochs Alsh and Duich, bold headlands, precipitous ravines, rocky eminences, cultivated fields; and clumps of natural wood. Gneiss, occasionally alternating with mica slate, is the predominant rock; a coarse-grained granite, of a reddish hue, occurs on the shores of Loch Clunie; and two beds of limestone, very impure in quality, are in the S of Letterfearn. The soil, in the arable parts near the sea is generally a coarse gravel, and in the best parts of the bottoms of the glens, is vegetable mould incumbent on gravel and sand. A spot in Glenshiel, where the stream is now crossed by a bridge, 5½ miles SE of Shiel Inn, was the scene, on 11 June 1718, of the so-called ' Battle of Glenshiel, ' between 1500 Jacobites, under the Earls Marischal and Seaforth and the Marquis of Tullibardine, and 1600 Hanolerians, under General Wightman. The latter lost 21 men, besides 121 wounded; but on the following day the Highlanders dispersed among the mountains, whilst their Spanish auxiliaries, 274 in number, surrendered themselves as prisoners of war (Hill Burton's Hist. Scotl., viii. 341, edn. 1876). Down into the present century, the entire parish belonged, with Kintail and Lochalsh, to the Seaforth family; but now Glenshiel alone is divided among three proprietors. It is in the presbytery of Lochcarron and synod of Glenelg; the living is worth £198. The church, in the eastern part of Letterfearn, on the shore of Loch Duich, 3 miles NW of Shiel inn and 8 SE of the post-town Lochalsh, was built in 1758, and contains 300 sittings. Two public schools of recent erection, Letterfearn and Shiel, with respective accommodation for 36 and 40 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 19 and 24, and grants of £30, 11s. 6d. and £35, 17s. Valuation (1860) £3933, (1882) £4915, 10s. Pop. (1801) 710, (1831) 715, (1861) 485, (1871) 463, (1881) 424, of whom 400 were Gaelic-speaking.—Ord. Sur., sh 72, 1880.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a Highland parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 4th order divisions")
Administrative units: Glenshiel ScoP       Ross Shire ScoCnty
Place: Glenshiel

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