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loch caroy
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A HISTORY OF THE BALMEANACH AREA

In Gaelic, Balmeanach means, 'village in the middle' as it is situated between the villages of Caroy and Ose. Balmeanach has two old oak trees that belonged to the ancient Caledonian Forest. The trees are approximately 60 foot high and are protected because of their age and being the last remaining of the forest. The trees can be found approximately one and a half miles away. Go on to the main road, turn left, travel approx 50 yards and take the sign for Balmeanach village. Travel for about a mile and you'll see them on the right, not hard to miss as they stand alone in a field.

Balmeanach is well known in Skye for its quality of peat due to the climate and soil. When cutting in to the peat, you can still see the traces of old forest and this helps to improve the quality and blackness. The blacker the peat, the better it burns, therefore the islanders would travel to this area to cut the peat. Peat was the main fuel on the island, and families would gather together once a year in the spring to cut for the year's supply. This was a big event that everyone looked forward to and many stories would be told over an open peat fire.

As you look out from the cottage, you'll see the head of Loch Caroy. Caroy in Gaelic is known as, Lag a buidhe (yellow holly), and is an inlet of Loch Bracadale. The chief of the MacLeod clan once gathered his army of men at the head of Loch Caroy to set sail to fight the Duke of Cumberland's army with Bonny Prince Charlie in Culloden. However, by the time the men had gathered, the MacLeod Chief had already left to join the Duke of Cumberland's men, expecting his men to follow. On hearing this, 1500 of the 2000 clansmen turned around and headed for home. The remining 500, set sail for Culloden and fought alongside, Prince Charlie's army, despite the decision taken by their clan chief. There may have been a different outcome at Culloden, had all of the MacLeod's fought with the Jacobites against the Duke of Cumberland.

The name Caroy in Gaelic means the 'the red rock' due to the red sandstone found on the sea bed and can be seen on the edge of the shoreline.

On Loch Caroy, there is a man made fish trap, which the locals call 'the carry'. This was built by the villagers, hundreds of years ago and the remains can still be seen today when the tide is partly out. This was built to feed the villagers, in the days when food was scarce. At high tide, the salmon and sea trout were ready to go up the river, heading for fresh water and as the tide would go out, 'the carry' would trap the fish within the stone wall, ready for the villagers to walk out to collect, as the tide would slowly filter out through the stones.

On the Dunvegan road, approximately one and a half miles away, you'll find a stone tomb. This you'll not find in any guide books but is well known locally by the islanders. This was the site of the last battle of the MacLeod's of Dunvegan and the MacDonald's of Sleat. It is believed that this is where they buried the dead and a stone tomb was erected, as was done in the day, after a battle.

Crofters Cottage, 1 Balmeanach, Struan , Isle of Skye IV56 8FH