Brief Description and History

February 2008

The Community of Strachur District, (Strachur, including St Catherines and Glenbranter together with Strachlachlan, including Leachd, Newton and Leanach) is situated on the shores of Loch Fyne amid scenery of singular beauty.

Strachur was originally called Kilmaglass. The prefix ‘Kil’ means the residence of a saint, but commonly applied to a chapel set apart for the worship of a saint. The origins of the name ‘Maglass’ is disputed, but may be a corruption of the name of the person considered the patron saint of Strachur. Strachur derives from the Gaelic ‘Strath Chorr’ or ‘Strath Churra’, possibly meaning the valley of the heron.

Strathlachlan was called Kilmorie in previous centuries, from Kil as above, and MacCrusha, a priest of St. Columba.  There is still a spring near the old church known as a “Holy” or wishing well.  Strathlachlan is partly derived from Lachlan, a family of great distinction among the Highland clans, and whose residence has been in Strathlachlan since the 11th Century.

The combined parishes are eighteen miles in length. From the northeast it is 6 miles broad for 8 miles, and then tapering to 2 miles broad for the last 5 miles. It is bounded by the parishes of Lochgoilhead and Kilmorich to the north and east; on the south by the parishes of Kilmun, Kilfinan and Kilmodan; and the west by Loch Fyne.

The general character of the ground is hilly, the hills being approximately 1,500 to 2,500 feet in height.  There are some plains by the lochsides and on the borders of small rivers. The hills have traditionally provided good grazing for hill cattle and sheep.  Sheep are selective grazers and have caused a gradual deterioration of the hill pastures over the last two centuries.

In 1922 the Forestry Commission came into the district and put a scheme of afforestation into operation at Glenbranter Estate, which they purchased from the late Sir Harry Lauder. In 1927 they took over the adjoining estate, Balliemeanach, and in 1947 they acquired land in Strathlachlan. A large number of hills and huge acreage has since been planted with spruce, with a small proportion of larch and pine. This planting saw an additional peak in the late 1970s / early 1980s as grants and a friendly tax regime made large-scale planting a viable option, and the value of hill land for planting was relatively high.

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