Kinloch Rannoch is found 20 miles west of Pitlochry and 20 miles north west of Aberfeldy. It lies in a remarkably remote location at the east end of Loch Rannoch. What makes it remote is that the road through it continues west for just 18 miles to Rannoch Station before terminating on the edge of the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor.
It wasn't always so. In centuries past the natural corridor across the central Highlands continued along tracks across Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe to Lochaber and beyond. Today we think of "The Road to the Isles" as extending west from Fort William to Mallaig. But that's a mindset conditioned by modern road patterns. Traditionally the "The Road to the Isles" also came east from Fort William via Glen Coe across Rannoch Moor, and past Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel to Pitlochry, and the main routes south to central Scotland.
The area was already well settled in the 500s when St Blane arrived here from Iona and began the conversion of the resident Celts to Christianity. He was followed by other early missionaries, and their memory remains in the naming of burial grounds in the area.
In medieval times this route across Scotland was never dominated by any particular clan, and as a result no fewer than seven different clans have links with the area, including the Robertsons, Camerons, MacDougalls and Menzies. Perhaps best known, for the worst of reasons, were the MacGregors, who played an especially enthusiastic role in several centuries of sporadic clan warfare usually caused by disputes about ownership of land or cattle.
The MacGregors made so many enemies that in April 1603 other clans persuaded King James VI to outlaw the very name MacGregor. Anyone called MacGregor could be killed with impunity from the law, and MacGregors were instructed to take other clan's names. The proscription of the name remained in place until 1775.
Rannoch's clans played a full part in the Jacobite uprisings, and in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden the area suffered badly at the hands of soldiers based at Rannoch Barracks at the head of the loch.
But by 1754 the pacification of the Highlands was largely complete. In that year an ex-army officer, James Small, was appointed to run the Rannoch estates, seized from the clan chieftains who had supported the Jacobites. He decided that the tiny hamlet at the east end of Loch Rannoch would make an ideal location for a much larger village. This was in due course built and settled, largely by soldiers being discharged from the army, and a wide range of agricultural and other improvement works were undertaken across the estates.
One oddity about Kinloch Rannoch is its name, which already applied to the hamlet James Small found in 1754. "Kinloch" really ought to apply to a village at the head of the loch rather than its foot: but it stuck nonetheless. Less enduring was the name given by ex-soldiers to another settlement which they built at the head of Loch Rannoch. "Georgetown" was a step too far in an area which had been strongly Jacobite, so it fairly rapidly returned to the earlier Bridge of Gaur.
In more recent times, Kinloch Rannoch has seen changes brought by hydro-electric schemes, though not as far reaching as in some parts of the Highlands. And in the 1960s an independent school, Rannoch School, was established in and around a large shooting lodge on the south shore of Loch Rannoch some miles west of Kinloch Rannoch. Sadly, Rannoch School closed in 2002. But despite this blow to the local economy, Kinloch Rannoch retains a wide range of services for such a small community. These include the imposing Dunaslastair Hotel (see below), while on the north shore of Loch Rannoch to the west of the village is the large Loch Rannoch Hotel and Holiday Resort, offering a wide range of facilities and activities.
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