- INVERCHAOLAIN, a parish, in the district of Cowal, county of Argyll, 7 miles (N.) from Rothesay; containing 699 inhabitants. The name of this place is derived from the Chaolain, a small stream which, at this part, joins Loch Straven, or Striven, an arm of the sea intersecting the parish in a northern direction. Inverchaolain is situated in the south-eastern division of the county, and is about fifteen miles long, and eight miles in extreme breadth, including the loch; it comprises upwards of 40,000 acres, of which 1300 are arable, 1500 low pasture, nearly 1500 wood, and the remainder hill pasture. The surface is irregular, and rises in the form of elevated ranges on each side of the lake, which is more than nine miles long, and about two broad at the entrance, but narrowing as it penetrates into the country. The depth varies in the middle from twenty to fifty or sixty fathoms, but is in general more shallow towards the shores, which in many parts are smooth and sandy, offering excellent facilities for bathing. The only other waters connected with the parish, except a few rivulets, which exhibit several interesting cascades, are the Kyles of Bute and Loch Ridon or Riddan, forming respectively the south-western and western boundaries, and affording herrings and the ordinary white-fish. The whole of the sea-shore belonging to the parish measures between thirty and forty miles.Near the coast the soil is light and sandy, mixed in some parts with moss; in the more inland tracts it runs through several varieties, and much of the earth is of a red cast. Agriculture is in a very low state, the old system of cultivation generally prevailing. Most of the land is laid out in sheep-farms, merely interspersed with arable tracts, and held on lease for only nine years. Some parts, however, form an exception; are highly cultivated, drained, and fenced; and have very comfortable houses, the leases running for nineteen years. The sheep, usually numbering upwards of 10,000, are of the black-faced kind, excepting a few Leicesters, fed on the lower grounds. Considerable numbers of cows, chiefly the Argyllshire, with some of the Ayrshire for the dairy, are kept; and about 200 calves are annually reared. The cattle are generally disposed of to the drovers, for the low country markets; the sheep are sold to the Greenock, Glasgow, Rothesay, or Dunoon butchers. The strata of the parish comprise chiefly mica-slate, and a variety of hard common rocks lying in beds, with many whinstone dykes. Limestone was formerly quarried; but it has been superseded by Irish lime in shell, the latter being of superior quality and less expensive. The wood comprehends about 440 acres of thriving plantations, principally larch, spruce-fir, oak, ash, and birch: there are also 1000 acres of oak coppice, the periodical cuttings of which make a profitable return. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3283. The mansion of Southhall, situated near the opening to the East Kyles of Bute, embraces beautiful views of the Frith of Clyde; and at Gortan, on the eastern side of Loch Straven, a cottage has recently been built, surrounded with nearly 100 acres of plantations, and commanding fine prospects of Rothesay bay, with Ayrshire and Arran in the distance.The inhabitants are scattered in various directions, and are chiefly employed in agriculture, but mostly keep nets for taking, at the proper seasons, the fish with which the different waters abound, comprising all kinds of white-fish, with herrings, and tolerable quantities of lobsters, crabs, and other shell-fish. The peat obtained in the district is used for fuel; but the people more frequently burn coal, brought from various places. The parish is tolerably well supplied with roads, some of which are kept in very good order. A fair is held in November, for the sale of black-cattle. Inverchaolain is in the presbytery of Dunoon and synod of Argyll, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Bute. The minister's stipend is £150, of which a part is received from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe of nearly five acres, valued at £13. 10. per annum. The church, built in 1812, is situated on an eminence, and surrounded by a picturesque burial-ground; it contains 250 sittings, and forms that accommodate about forty more. A chapel, connected with the Establishment, and situated on the East Kyles of Bute, was opened in 1840, having been built by subscription, and a contribution from the General Assembly's church-extension fund. There are two schools in the parish; the masters have salaries of £22 and £11 respectively, and the fees. In a small island in Loch Riddan is the ruin of the ancient castle of Elland-heirrig, fortified by the Earl of Argyll when he made his descent upon Scotland in 1685, and which is seen by passengers in steam-boats passing along the Kyles of Bute. The island, and the property lying in the vicinity, were at that period possessed by a family named Campbell, now extinct, who had other very considerable lands in this part of Scotland, and were of some celebrity as warriors.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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