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Facts and Figures about Gairloch.......
First of all, the name - this comes from the native Gaelic language (which is pronounced gallic, NOT gaylic. If you want gaylic speakers then you have clearly taken a wrong turn somewhere, because you are in the wrong country! In Gaelic, ghearrloch means "short loch" and that's exactly what we have here - a short and relatively wide sea loch.
And don't confuse this with The Gareloch (which is on the Clyde, near Glasgow) or Gairlochy, which is in the middle of the country near Fort William!
So.....we are about 75 miles west of Inverness, and on the North West coast of Scotland, looking over towards Skye. Gairloch's population is about 600 - 700, although this does depend on what you are classing as "Gairloch". As well as the main population centre, there are a number of small communities scattered around the loch itself -places such as Badachro, Melvaig, North and South Erradale and so on.
Looking towards Skye Sunset over the Minch
Tourism is the largest single contributor to the local economy, and there are a number of hotels, many self catering / B&B businesses, and (for this area at least) a good number of shops. We have restuarants, several cafes, craft shops, and - particularly down by the Harbour area - boat operators who can provide visitors with boat trips, whale watching opportunities, and fishing. Aside from tourism, a number of fishing boats work out of Gairloch, and we also have a variety of building related trades, the High School, and are a focal location for several Highand Council activities on the West Coast.
Gairloch Harbour, and the "Silver Cloud"
The weather is comparatively mild (although the last couple of winters might contradict that description), and we occasionally have extremely strong winds blowing over us - the best known occasion in recent years being the hurricane of January 2005, which produced windspeeds just offshore of around 120 mph! Breezy!
There is a great deal of history and culture here, from the Neolithic remains at Sand, to the more recent residence of the local Lairds - Flowerdale House, home of the Gairloch branch of the Mackenzies. The best place to learn more about this is in Gairloch Museum.
Flowerdale House, Seat of the Mackenzies of Gairloch
The population used to be far higher in days gone by, and the deserted runrig settlements and tumbled ruins of abandoned croft houses remind us that life has not always been easy for the people of the area. The Gairloch Heritage Museum will tell you all about this through its award winning displays and exhibits of times past.
An original crofthouse, and a photograph of a typical interior