Friday, April 10, 2015

Reflecting on history and the scenery at Gaskan, Loch Shiel.

Nestling at the SW end of Gaskan Wood is Gaskan cottage, all that remains of the hamlet of Gaskan. It was here that the MacDonald's built their birlinns (fast galleys powered by sail and oars) using the plentiful supply of oak. Later the forest was also used to manufacture charcoal which was shipped to the iron furnace at Bonawe on Loch Etive. This was 120km away down the River Shiel, into the sea and round Ardnamurchan Point which was quite a journey!

The author and naturalist Mike Tomkies lived in Gaskan cottage for nearly two decades in the '70s and the '80s. His book "A Last Wild Place" described the time he spent in this cottage at Gaskan which he called "Wildernesse".

SW of Gaskan the scenery was bathed in the golden light of early morning.

Below an area that had been cleared of trees...

...were the remains of an old dry stone sheep fold.

The water was so still that paddling near the shore was again quite disorientating.

Ian spotted a lovely little beach and although...

...we had not paddled far...

...we had seen so much that...

...a stop was called for so that...

...we could drink in more of the wonderful view and properly savour what we had seen.


  1. Hello from Hudson QC Canada. Thanks for great photos of Gaskan & Loch Shiel. In '50s/60s my family/friends spent many weeks at Gaskan, courtesy of Bill & Sheila Goldie who had rented the place. We had the use of their 2 boats Bessie & Blanche - also the MacBrayne's Ferry. Never caught any salmon (nets at Acharacle?), but caught many brownies and Sea Trout. We'll be visiting mid 2017 (family wedding in the Borders). May have time to revisit, even kayak. In Canada I have a Freedom 21 catboat, plus a Folbot Greenland II, and an 18ft rowing wherry. Will take the Jacobite Steam Train too. Although "retired" (75 years) I work on Oil Spill Response and environmental restoration. Please visit and

    1. Greetings Christopher, it is very good to hear from you and thank you. Gaskan is a very special place. The brown trout numbers are still good but sea trout numbers have fallen with the salmon. They now release salmon and se4a trout smolts in the feeder burns of the loch. Currently there are no nets at Acharacle and the bank fishing on the River Shiel is catch and release. Enjoy your visit in 2017. That is good work you are doing. Douglas :o)