Loch An Eilein

Hidden in the forest of Rothiemurchus, this beautiful place is one of the most loved in the UK.

Loch an Eilein (loch of the island) with its 13th century island castle, was voted Britain’s Best Picnic Spot as part of the celebrations to highlight the 10th anniversary of Warburtons National Bread Week which took place in May 2010 – a big thank you to everyone who voted.

Step back in time and retrace the steps of the Highland cattle raiders as you enjoy views of the dramatic and mysterious Highland castle and enjoy the exceptional wildlife of the forest including Red Squirrels and Scottish Crossbills. You can enjoy some of the best low level walking in Scotland. Sheltered by ancient pine trees with views of the mountains, the path round the loch is suitable for motorised wheel chairs, off road buggies and is part of the 50km Rothiemurchus way marked network of paths.


Loch an Eilein translates from Gaelic as “Loch of the Island”.

The ancient castle on the island was built on a natural defensive site. Its origins are uncertain, however it is thought that between 1222 and 1298, the Bishop of Moray chose the south end of the island to build a half house surrounded by a defensive wall.

In the 1380s, the notorious Wolf of Badenoch (Alexander Stewart, a younger son of King Robert of Scotland and Robert the Bruce’s grandson) probably constructed a sturdy tower house as a fortified hunting lodge on the north end of the island of 10m x 8.5m with walls 1.8m thick. It also had a barrel-vaulted cellar, first floor hall and upper chamber. In 1600 Patrick Grant of Rothiemurchus built a connection curtain wall between the hall house and the lower tower to increase security in emergencies.

These are the ruined structures you will see today, made so by winter storms despite minor repairs early last century. The island, on which the castle sits proudly, decreased in size in the 1770s when a sluice built to enable felled timber to be floated down the Spey, raised the water level. The water now obscures the zigzag causeway once said to connect the castle to the shore.

The most notable skirmish to take place was in 1690, when the defeated Jacobites from the Battle of Cromdale besieged the castle. Furthermore, in 1745 after the battle of Culloden, the widow of 5th Laird Jean Gordon, (alias Grizel Mhor a well known Jacobite Lady), sheltered fugitives in the castle. More recently Grant lairds have also used the island loch to protect Osprey nests on the castle.


Please exercise your dog responsibly and keep dogs under control. Dogs can alarm other visitors and wildlife especially ground nesting birds. Please clear your dog’s mess from paths and public area, but don’t litter the area with plastic bags!  We’re pleased to offer you a dog exercise area where your furry friend can run free without alarming other visitors and wildlife.


This is perhaps the greatest threat to the forest and its wildlife.  Just the heat from a disposable barbecue or camping gas stove can cause a fire as can a cigarette end, please be careful.


At Loch an Eilein, the attended car park is open daily and the attendant can help answer any questions you may have. They can also help you catch a glimpse of beautiful Crested Tits as Loch an Eilein is home to many rare and protected species. By parking here you are helping to care for the forest and the wildlife that depends on it.

“Rothiemurchus forest is not just trees but a wonderfully rich network of habitats and wildlife, interdependent and evolving.   The conservation of this diverse living landscape does not happen by accident.  Long-term planning and sensitive use maintain and enhance the forest for future generations. Thank you for helping”


Includes a great map and other benefits

Adult: £1.50
Child: 50p


Cars: £4.50


Park for free




Our gallery is now in its sixth season of offering a wide range of fine art and locally made crafts. We usually have a fantastic selection of fine art work and photography, primarily landscapes and wildlife as befits our rural situation. The craft work is nearly all sourced locally and comprises jewellery, Harris tweed, felt work, engraved and fused glass, sculpture, wood turning, driftaway art, soaps and much more.

Loch an Eilein gallery is a fantastic showcase of the artistic talent in this area. During the season we will be presenting a constantly changing exhibition of a range of art styles and media, from some exciting new artists as well as old favourites.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like to know more about our artwork or if you would be interested in showcasing your work in the gallery.

Directions: The gallery is located on the shore of Loch an Eilein, grid reference 897084. Turn right off the ski road to Cairngorm onto the B970 then left down a minor road past the Loch an Eilein Pottery until you reach the Loch an Eilein car park (car park fee applies). The nearest postcode is PH22 1QT.

Opening times

3rd April to 1st November – Daily 11am to 4.30pm


Gallery: T: 01479 811085

Rothiemurchus Centre (9.30am to 5.30 pm) – T: 01479 812345