The Knoydart Area.
Knoydart is a peninsula in the Lochaber district on the West coast of the Scottish Highlands. Situated between Loch Nevis and Loch Hourn, the peninsula comprises approximately 55,000 acres which today is divided up amongst a number of landowners, with the largest area managed by the Knoydart Foundation.
Knoydart is cut off from the UK mainland road network, thus meaning access can only be made either by boat or by foot. The rugged and remote landscape is one of the primary attractions of the area; and with four munros and numerous corbetts within the Knoydart boundary, hillwalkers flock from far and wide to make their ascents.
Inverie is the main settlement area and is home to over half of the full time residents (currently around 120). The village holds the majority of local amenities including the Primary School, Post Office, Community Shop, Knoydart Pottery & Tearoom and The Old Forge pub; and is where the pier is located for boat access to and from the peninsula. Along the length of the bay there are also many guesthouses - including B&B's, self catering and hostels (click here for more information).
Find out more about Knoydart's history here.
A Short History.
The ownership of the land on Knoydart can be dated back as far as the 12th century when it was part of the Somerled kingdom, before passing on to the Macruari branch of his descendants. From the 15th to the 17th century the Macdonald family - who are generally believed to have descended from Allan Macdonald, 2nd of Clanranald - held ownership before Macdonell of Glengarry suceeded in wrestling control, receiving official documentation from the King in 1613. The Macdonell family sold Knoydart in 1856 to an Ayrshire Ironmaster James Baird - one of the seven brothers called the Bairds of Gartsherrie from Monklands. Since then, ownership has passed through many hands until the community achieved a successful buyout in 1999, and finally held control of their home through the Knoydart Foundation.
Prior to the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745 the population of the peninsula numbered almost a thousand inhabitants, and in spite of much emigration records show this number was maintained right through to 1841. In 1852, notices of eviction were given to around four hundred members of the community for the following year. They were offered passages originally to Australia but later the destination was changed to Canada. On 9th August 1853 three hundred and thirty people from the West coast of the land boarded the ship 'Sillery' and headed for a new life in Canada. However, eleven families, comprising almost 60 people, refused to leave their homes and the story of their eviction became notorious as part of the famous 'Highland Clearances'.
Knoydart continued to survive after the Clearances despite a diminshed population and having to cope with a string of powerful landlords that did not always have much concern for the people on their land. The community continued to fight for their freedom with one of the most famous stories being that of the Seven Men of Knoydart. On November 9th 1948 seven of Knoydart's residents - including veterans from the recent war - staked out 65 acres of arable land each and 10,000 acres of hill land to be used to rebuild their lives now peace had come. Their landowner Lord Brocket, a well known Nazi sympathizer, took the case to the Court of Session which ruled against the land raiders. Despite their unsuccessful attempt the actions of these seven men sparked new life in to the community and set the ground work which led to the eventual community buyout at the turn of the millenium.
Photograph: Memorial cairn for the Seven Men of Knoydart outside the Village Community Hall.
Knoydart Present Day.
Today the Knoydart peninsula is divided in to a number of Estates, the largest area being managed by the community-led Knoydart Foundation. The Knoydart Foundation purchased the old Knoydart Estate on behalf of the community in 1999, and since then has seen the land flourish under the stewardship of those who live and work here. The population currently stands at around 120 full time residents. The village provides basic amenities including a Post Office and Primary School, along with our community shop, Tearoom and the remotest pub in mainland Britain, The Old Forge which came under community ownership in 2022. A variety of holiday accommodation for visitors can be found along the bay as well as located at other settlements along the West coast of the peninsula.
Knoydart is very much a working community - from tourism and hospitality to construction, forestry and farming, there is a lot going on. When visiting Knoydart, it will be very common for you to see tractors and landrovers going through the village, hear chainsaws at work in the woods, see construction work underway, and most certainly meet many of the locals who work face to face with the public.
In 2006 the new pier at Inverie was officially opened by Tavish Scott MSP and this was extremely important in enabling Knoydart to be self sustainable. The new pier allows for much easier transport of people, and day to day deliveries to the peninsula; but most importantly the large slip adjacent to the pier allows for landing crafts to berth easily and bring over essential supplies such as building materials and vehicles. We have a daily, year-round ferry service which has opened opportunities to expand tourism opportunities, and has helped our community to develop on many levels.
Knoydart attracts thousands of visitors each year, most of whom come during the high season of April to October, but Knoydart is a year-round destination. Hill-walkers, yachtsmen, cyclists, musicians, artists, families, and many day trippers arrive on the boats and walk through the hills to experience Knoydart in their own way - and with the increase in new businesses on the peninsula there is something for everyone to enjoy.