Lochbroom


Lochbroom
   LOCHBROOM, a parish, in the county of Ross and Cromarty, 45 miles (N. W. by W.) from Dingwall; containing, with the late quoad sacra parish of Ullapool, 4799 inhabitants. This place derives its name from two considerable inlets, by which it is intersected for some miles towards the east, and of which the large is situated in the north, and the smaller, or Little Loch Broom, in the southern portion of the parish. It is bounded on the west by the channel of the Minch, separating it from the island of Lewis, and is from forty to fifty miles in length, and from twenty to thirty miles in extreme breadth; but, from the numerous indentations of its coast, and the irregularity of the surface, its extent has not been correctly ascertained. The surface is divided into numerous promontories by lochs or inlets from the sea, and in the interior rises into mountainous heights of considerable elevation, between which ars some rich and fertile valleys. The principal mountains are, Stac, Cumhill-Mhor, and Big Rock, to the north; Ben-Deirg to the east; Fannich in the south-east; and those of Strath-na-Sealg on the south-west; but their various degrees of elevation above the level of the sea have not been computed.
   Among the chief valleys are Strathceannard and Rhidorch, in the barony of Coigach, the former watered by the river Ceannard, and the latter by the small river Ceannchruinn, which issues from the inland Loch Achall, and runs into the bay of Ullapool. The larger and smaller valleys of Lochbroom are watered respectively by the rapid river Broom and the Little Broom, which receive in their course various mountain streams The valley of the Laigh is watered by the Meikle, which issues from Loch-na-Sealg, and by the small river Greenyard, which forms part of the southern boundary of the parish. All these streams abound with salmon, grilse, trout, and other kinds of fish. The chief inland lakes are, Loch Achall, beautifully situated in a richly-wooded vale; and Loch-na-Sealg, a fine sheet of water more than seven miles in length and a mile broad, of which the shores are marked with features of picturesque character. The coast is bold and precipitously rocky, rising into promontories of considerable elevation; the most conspicuous are those of Mhor, Riff, Dunan, Duard, Ardchaduill, Handerick, and Stadaig. Off the coast are several islands: the principal are, Tanara containing ninety-nine, Martin forty-five, and Ristal nineteen, inhabitants; and the Summer islands, which, though uninhabited, afford excellent facilities for wintering young cattle.
   The soil in the valleys is generally fertile; but, except on the lands of Dundonnell, which were greatly improved by a late proprietor, Kenneth Mc Kenzie, Esq., little progress has been made in husbandry. Only a comparatively small portion of the land is under cultivation, and the quantity of grain raised in the parish is far from being adequate to the supply of the inhabitants. The principal attention is devoted to cattle and sheep, for which the hills afford good pasture, and of which many thousands are annually reared. The cattle are of the West Highland black breed, of small stature; the sheep, originally of the native breed, were some years since superseded by the black-faced, and these are in their turn giving way to the introduction of the Cheviot breed. There are but comparatively small remains of the ancient woods with which the parish formerly abounded. Of the more recent plantations, the chief are confined to the demesne of Dundonnell and a few other spots, consisting of some fine specimens of oak, ash, birch, geen, mountain-ash, and bird-cherry, with thriving plantations of fir. The principal substrata are of the old red sandstone formation, and the rocks are chiefly of quartz and gneiss, with veins of granite: limestone is also found, but, from the difficulties of the ground and the scarcity of fuel, it is but little used. Dundonnell, the seat of Hugh Mc Kenzie, Esq., is a handsome mansion, beautifully situated near the romantic glen of Strathbeg, in grounds tastefully laid out in shrubberies and plantations by the late proprietor. The only village is Ullapool which is described under its own head. There are various fishing stations; and during the season large shoals of herrings frequent the bay of Loch Broom, and other bays in the parish. The herrings are partly sent to Dingwall, but great numbers are sold for curing to the agent of Mr. Methuen, who is stationed at the isle of Ristal. Numerous boats are engaged in this fishery, and find good anchorage in the several bays, of which that of Loch Broom affords safe shelter for vessels of the largest burthen: at the isle of Tanara, also, is an excellent harbour. Facility of communication is afforded by a road from Dingwall to Ullapool, which passes through the valley of Loch Broom; but it is not at present in good repair. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Lochcarron and synod of Glenelg. The minister's stipend is £298. 10. 9., with a manse and glebe; patrons, the Mc Kenzies, of Cromartie. The church, situated at the head of Loch Broom, was built in 1844–5; it is a neat structure containing from 700 to 800 sittings, the whole of which are free. A church has been erected by parliamentary grant in the village of Ullapool. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well conducted, and affords instruction to about fifty children both in Gaelic and English; the master has a salary of £34, with a house and garden, and the fees average £6 per annum. There are also two schools supported by the General Assembly; four by the Gaelic Society of Edinburgh, who allow the masters a salary of £20 each; and a female school; together affording instruction to about 500 children. Norman Mc Leod and Murdoch Mc Leod, both Highland poets of some eminence, were natives of this parish. The Rev. James Robertson, minister in 1745, a man of gigantic strength, and remarkable for his stedfast loyalty, obtained, by his intercession with the government, the pardon of several of his parishioners who had taken part in the rebellion of that time.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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