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Loch Shin

Loch Shin is the largest and finest of the lochs of Sutherland and lies to the east of Ben More Assynt (3.273 feet). Running from the north-west to the south-east, this lovely loch is some seventeen miles in length and the scenery surrounding it is magnificent. Trees come down in places to the water’s edge, while looming up in the background are great ranges of blue hills that recede into the distance in stately procession. There is the five mile long strath in all its glory and three miles
to the north of the village and holiday resort of Lairg is the monument erected to commemorate an early attempt to tame the Highlands when in the 1870’s the Duke of Sutherland ploughed up about 2,000 acres in three years but his industry was unrewarded and the area today is famed as one of the major sheep producing centres of Scotland.

The delightful little river Shin is only seven miles in length from where it leaves the loch near Lairg to where it enters the Kyle of Sutherland, which, in its turn, enters the Dornoch Firth. Small though it is, the river Shin is none the less renowned for its beauty and for its great
abundance of salmon and trout. At the famous Falls of Shin the river forces its way through a rocky gorge to
drop some twenty feet into a deep pool before continuing on its way in a more sedate manner. Although not visible
from the road, the falls can be reached by foot and there are wooden walkways which give good access. One of the fascinations is of course to watch the salmon leaping up the falls. One writer in the 17th century recorded that; “In the River Shin is a huge and steep rock, from
which the waters, flowing and meeting with a great rush and a loud noise, create a deep whirlpool. Here there is a
profitable fishery of very large salmon.”

A century or more later another writer recorded how salmon were caught at the falls. “The old method of killing salmon on the Shin was by thrusting a long creel
or basket in behind the cascade at the foot of the rock and every fish that jumped to get up was sure to fall into the basket and kill itself by the fall.”

Nowadays salmon fishing is only allowed with a fly-rod.
Twenty miles north of Lairg, along the A836, passing Ben Klibreck (3,514 feet) on the right, brings the traveller to Loch Naver, a pleasing loch some five miles long, out of which flows the river Naver which reaches the sea at Bettyhill, twenty miles to the north. Away up beyond the
head of Loch Shin, lying in the Reay Forest below Ben Stack, is Loch More, while to the west, towards Lochinver on the coast, is Loch Assynt a very beautiful
loch on the shores of which stand the ruins of Ardvreck Castle.

Another fine river, running almost parallel with Loch Shin is the Cassley river which is some twenty miles long and
at Rosehall joins the Oykell which flows through Strath Oykell and into the estuary. The Cassley is divided by the
Achness Falls into the upper and the lower rivers.

Return To Lochs and Rivers

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