Ballachulish and Kinlochleven are on the shores of Loch
Leven with Onich just around the corner on the edge of Loch Linnie
providing a panoramic view across the loch to the hills of Appin, Morvin and
the distant Island of Mull.
Onich boasts a number of hotel and guest houses including
the Corran Inn where
the ferry crossing to Ardgour takes place. Ballachulish is split into North
and South by Loch Leven but the two areas are joined by the Ballachulish Bridge.
The name comes from the Gaelic
for "village of the narrows" and the first settlement to bear the
name lay where North Ballachulish is today. Its twin on the South side of
the loch rapidly followed. Loch Leven narrows dramatically here, where North
and South Ballachulish grew up around the slipways from which a ferry crossed
the loch as early as 1730. A vehicle ferry started to cross the narrows in
1912 but the service, which could be pretty scary, finally disappeared in
1975 when the bridge was opened.
South Ballachulish largely comprises the slipway and the hotel.
Close to the steps leading down from the bridge to the Oban road, near the
hotel, is a memorial to James Stewart - innocent of the crime but hanged here
in 1752 for the Appin
murder. This was the killing of John Campbell, an event used as
the basis for Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped.
North Ballachulish is a little more developed and is home to both an upmarket Art Gallery and Factory Units - producing items from jewellery to boats and musical instruments. The Loch Leven Hotel stands above the old slipway and a short walk along the shores of Loch Leven is Bishops Bay, a haven for yachts and motor boats, adding excitement to the beautiful scenery and tranquillity.
The largest settlement known now as Ballachulish, started
life as Laroch in the 1500s, and lies on the south side of Loch Leven, a mile
or so west of the village of Glencoe.
By the early 1700s it was the site of a major slate quarrying operation which
continued for over 250 years until 1955, when the quarries closed. The quarry
is now a tourist attraction with well laid out walks and information plaques.
tourist office is sited near the entrance to the Quarry and a few
yards along the road there's a grocery shop, a hardware shop - selling fishing
tackle and other supplies and The Laroch Lounge and Restaurant. On the opposite
side of the A82 easily accessed via a tunnel is the Isles
of Glencoe Hotel and Lochaber
Water Sports providing yacht charter,
training, fast boat trips and hire of small craft and cycles.
Since the demise of the aluminium smelter in June 2000 the
people of Kinlochleven are determined to recreate a truly rural village through
the controlled management of its many varied and unique natural resources.
One of the newest attractions in the area is the Ice
Factor which is the biggest indoor climbing facility in the world.
It also features the UK's largest articulated rock climbing wall and a competition
standard bouldering wall making it the perfect place to practice, train and
learn every conceivable mountaineering skill. With a sauna, steam room, plunge
pool and hot tub there are even things to do for people who have never set
foot on a mountain.
The village is uniquely suited for hill walking, climbing,
sailing and fishing. Most areas are as yet not used to their full potential.
The same applies of course to the communities of Onich and Ballachulish. The
population is mixed, with many born and bred in the village and a large number
of incomers, happy to live in this tranquil community which offers some of
the most rugged and beautiful scenery in Scotland.