Viking Kings ruled the area until 1263, and this influence
is reflected in many local place names. The Viking language
never usurped Gaelic, however, which is widely-spoken in this
area and is taught at the local schools.
Religion had a great influence on the more recent history
of the area, which was a largely-Catholic domain, and this
was doubtless a major factor in the choice of landing-place
for the Pretender, Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie)
when he came ashore from a French frigate in Loch na Uamh,
south of Arisaig, in 1745. He travelled down via Kinlochmoidart
to Dalilea and thence up Loch Shiel to Glenfinnan, where he
raised his standard to rally his supporters for the march
The eventual failure of his campaign was an influence on the
break-up of the Highland clan system. Many (but not all) landowners
drove folk off the land to make way for sheep, and this, together
with a massive increase in population, and, later, the potato
famines of the 1840s, drove many people to emigrate to Canada,
Australia, New Zealand and the USA in huge numbers. Their
villages, roofless and abandoned, and their overgrown cultivation
beds can be seen all over the area today. After almost 150
years, the regional population of Lochaber is approaching
what it was in the mid-nineteenth century, the difference
being that most folk nowadays live in the towns - and the
rural areas such as Moidart and Ardnamurchan are still underpopulated.
We still have a huge variety of wildlife, some of it locally
common - thousands of Red Deer - and some of it nationally
rare - White-tailed and Golden Eagles, Pine Martens, Red Squirrels
and of course Otters. Off our coasts you may see whales and
porpoises, Basking Sharks, and a huge variety of seabirds.
Winter sees an influx of northern visitors including Whooper
Swans. The Sunart Oakwoods Initiative have an excellent wildlife
hide at Ardery, between Salen and Strontian, and they also
have an informative
Walkers will find stunning and challenging routes all over
our local hills - see our walking page.
Our highest mountain, Rois Bheinn, is almost 3000 feet high
- we have no Munros (mountains over 3000 feet) and this means
our hills are not overcrowded with Munro Baggers trying to
complete their list - the result is sublime and empty hills
for you to enjoy.