Mallaig Circular and Loch an Nostarie

On a whim, I spent my August bank holiday out and about exploring a new location: on the far west coast, Mallaig is home to the ferry port connecting to Skye.

Just to the south of the town lies Loch an Nostaire – a lovely shallow loch of clear pure water and indeterminate name etymology: the current spelling is clearly anglicised, although there are no mentions of the more obvious Gaelic Nostaraidh, but rather variations include “Nosaraidh” and “Nossery” according to the 1852 Admiralty Charts. One option is for the name to date back to Old Norse naust, a ship; an alternative derivation might be via Gaelic nòsar, juicy, sappy, white. This would be cognate with nòs, cow’s milk, which sits well with one of the tributary burns being called the Allt a’ Bhainne.

The Mallaig Circular walk leads from Glasnacardoch just off the Rathad nan Eilean inland to the loch, then up between the hills Creag a’Chait and Cruach Mhalaig before descending to Mallaig.

The view down the loch, especially from higher up, is beautiful: to the east the hills of Cruach Clachach and Cruach Bhuidhe are quartzite outcrops forming a backdrop behind an unnamed island on the loch covered with native Scots Pine trees; along the opposite side of the loch runs a prominent ridge where Morar schist pelite changes to psammite.

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