Kilninver and Kilmelford

   KILNINVER and KILMELFORD, a parish, in the district of Lorn, county of Argyll, 8 miles (S. by W.) from Oban; containing 896 inhabitants. The name of the first of these two ancient parishes is formed from the two Gaelic words, kil, a "cell, chapel, or buryingplace," and inver, " the foot of the river or water," the latter term being descriptive of the situation of the ancient chapel or place of sepulture. Kilmelford, corrupted from Kilnamaolphort, or Kilnameallphort, or perhaps Kilnameallard, is also formed from two Gaelic words, signifying, as is generally supposed, "the burialground of the smooth or round bays," though some think the name means "the promontory's bay." Each of the derivations is strictly applicable to a rocky point of land projecting into the head of Loch Melford, and forming on either side two round bays. The parish, covering about twelve square miles, is situated on the seacoast, embracing a line of shore fourteen miles, marked by numerous inlets and bays affording convenient and safe anchorage. Kilninver is washed on the north by Loch Feuchan, and Kilmelford on the south by Loch Melford, each of them a branch of the Atlantic Ocean, which forms various channels or sounds bounding the parish on the west. Loch Feuchan, separating Kilninver from the parish of Kilbride, usually called Mid Lorn, is a boundary of the parish for three miles, and is about a mile broad, the depth being fifteen fathoms. Loch Melford is nearly four miles long, about half as wide, and thirty-five fathoms deep: the line of its northern shore, however, on account of its numerous indentations and curvatures, forming many excellent inlets and bays, measures as many as six miles.
   On the western coast of the parish, for about five miles, from the estuary of the Euchar to the sound of Clachan-Seil, is a spacious and beautiful bay, formed by two lofty rocky promontories; it has a clayey bottom, and a fine smooth sandy beach. After this, and as far northward as the sound of Clachan, the rugged nature of the coast exposes shipping to great danger. This sound, which is a part of the western boundary of Kilninver, is two miles long, and eighty feet broad, exhibiting, on account of its smooth and straight course, the appearance of a fine canal. It may be crossed in some places at low water, and at all times by the ferry; but for greater convenience, a bridge has been thrown over, consisting of one arch, spanning seventy-two feet, and placed twenty-seven feet above the highest water-mark. Under this, vessels of twenty-tons' burthen can pass with ease, and obtain good anchorage either at the northern or southern ends of the sound. The whole of the coast supplies abundance of salmon, mackerel, turbot, herrings, ling, haddock, skate, and a variety of other fish; and on the shores of the two lochs are found oysters, lobsters, crabs, muscles, cockles, and welks.
   The general surface of the parish is much diversified, comprising high mountains, hills, and dales, intersected by rivers, and ornamented with lochs, amidst a great profusion of beautiful and interesting scenery: there are also some tracts of level ground. The most lofty eminence is Ben-Chapull, or "Mares' mountain," rising about 1500 feet above the level of the sea, and commanding extensive and magnificent views to the west and north. The other hills are comprehended in four different ranges, which extend to the sea-coast. GlenEuchar, taking its name from the river running through it, and stretching for about six miles through the Kilninver district, from east to west, confers much pleasing variety on the scenery; its elevations produce, in rainy seasons, fine pasture, and the lower parts good crops of corn and potatoes. Another strath, called the Braes of Lorn, in the south, and parallel with GlenEuchar, though not so extensive or well cultivated, yet surpasses it in the richness of its pasture, and is remarkable also for its plentiful supply of limestone and peat, the latter affording the principal fuel. A tract in the west of the parish, called Nether Lorn, extending for about three miles, and having in general a clayey soil, but being in some parts loamy, on a sandy and slaty bottom, is exceedingly rich and fertile, yielding potatoes, grain, turnips, and fancy grasses.
   The Euchar, the largest stream, rising in Loch Scamadale, after running westward for about two miles, takes, for the same distance, a northerly course, and falls into the sea at Kilninver. It is swelled by numerous tributary streams, and passes, for the most part, between finely-wooded banks. About a mile from the ocean, it flows through a deep rocky ravine, and forms a waterfall, distinguished both for its strikingly romantic scenery, and as the resort of fine salmon: near this spot, on the southern bank, formerly stood the mansion of the Mc Dougalls, of Raray. The river Oude, which rises in Loch Trallaig, and is nearly five miles in length, in its course from north-east to south-west runs for two miles through the braes of Lorn, in the parish of Kilninver. About a mile from its junction with the sea at the expansive bay north of the head of Loch Melford, it traverses a locality crowded with grand and romantic scenery, and crossed by the great road between Lochgilphead and Oban: the rocks in many places overhang the road, and rise on each side several hundred feet high. Of the numerous inland lochs, numbering about twenty, the largest is Loch Scamadale, measuring two miles in length and half a mile in breadth. The water is twenty fathoms deep; and the beautiful scenery in the vicinity is enlivened by tributary streams and mountain torrents, which, in time of flood, pour with impetuosity and deafening roar through the deep and narrow ravines around. Loch Trallaig, more than a mile long and half a mile broad, is situated in the braes of Lorn: near it, at the base of a very lofty rock, is the schoolhouse of the district; and on its northern side, a range of hills, 800 feet high, forms a conspicuous and striking feature in the scenery. Of the remaining lakes, that called Parson's lake is distinguished for the wildness of its vicinity, for its beautifully-wooded island, and the ruins of a castle or monastery containing twelve apartments. All the lochs, as well as the rivers, contain fine trout and perch, especially Line, or String, lake, in the eastern quarter, in which the trout, for size and flavour, are said to surpass all other trout in the county.
   The soil, near the rivers, is frequently an alluvial deposit on clay or sand, and in other parts exhibits several varieties, comprising, frequently, loamy, clayey, or sandy earth. The husbandry approximates, as nearly as is practicable, to that in the southern districts of the country; and the tenants of the Marquess of Breadalbane, who holds two-thirds of Kilninver, as well as the proprietors who farm their own estates, are emulous to promote every agricultural improvement. Cattle-shows and ploughing-matches are annually held. The cattle are chiefly the black Highland breed, of which about 1200 are kept, besides 15,000 sheep. The rocks on the coast are chiefly sandstone and slate, with mixtures of whinstone; and limestone abounds in the hills skirting the parish on the east and south-east. The native trees comprise oak, ash, elm, alder, birch, mountain-ash, and hazel; those planted are, Scotch fir, larch, spruce, plane, poplar, lime, beech, and chesnut, covering altogether a considerable portion of ground. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4882. The only seats of importance are those of Melford and Glenmore. The inhabitants, who have diminished in number about 100 since the year 1831, are engaged in agriculture, with the exception of those employed at a large distillery, and in the salmon and herring fisheries. There are two salmonfisheries, one at the confluence of the Euchar with Loch Feuchan, and the other at the mouth of the Oude, producing together about £70 per annum: the herring-fishery is carried on in Loch Melford, and supplies a large stock of fish for the parish and surrounding district. About fourteen miles of public road pass through the parish; and important facilities for exporting agricultural produce are afforded by the extent of sea-coast. A fair or market is held in May, and another in November, for the purpose of hiring servants.
   The parish is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Lorn and synod of Argyll, and in the alternate presentation of the Duke of Argyll and the Marquess of Breadalbane, the former as possessing the old patronage of Kilmelford, and the latter that of Kilninver. The minister's stipend is £166, with an allowance of £50 in lieu of a manse; the glebe, situated chiefly at Kilmelford, is valued at £20. 10. per annum. There is a church in each district, kept in excellent order, and sharing alternately the ministry of the incumbent. That at Kilninver, built about 1793, accommodates 450 persons; and the edifice at Kilmelford, distant from the former eight miles, seats 250. The parochial school at Kilninver affords instruction in the usual branches; the master has a salary of £34, with an allowance of £6. 8. in lieu of house and garden. In the school at Kilmelford the same kind of instruction is given, the master receiving a salary of £25, and £4 in lieu of house and garden. The fees respectively amount to £20 and £15. There is also an Assembly's school, the master of which has £25 per annum, with an allowance for house and garden. The antiquities comprise tumuli, cairns, and perpendicular stones, with the ancient ruin called Dun-mhie Raonaill, or "Ronaldson's tower," formerly used as a watch and signal station. A tower or stronghold in Line lake served a desperate band of adventurers, for upwards of a century, as a secure retreat, whence they made predatory incursions throughout the country. There is also a place called the "Bones' barn," where the well-known Alexander Mc Donald, usually called in this locality Alastair MacCholla, burnt to death a large number of women and children who had fled thither to escape from his barbarity.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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