Lake, in Scotland

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This list of lochs in Scotland includes the majority of bodies of standing freshwater named as lochs but only a small selection of the generally smaller, and very numerous, lochans. This list does not currently include the reservoirs of Scotland except where these are modifications of pre-existing lochs and retain the name “loch” or “lochan”.

It has been estimated that there are at least 31,460 freshwater lochs (including lochans) in Scotland, and more than 7,500 in the Western Isles alone. Whilst lochs are widespread throughout the country, they are most numerous within the Scottish Highlands and in particular in the former counties of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty. The majority of the larger lochs are linear in form; their distribution through the West Highlands reflects their origin in the glacial overdeepening of the straths and glens they now occupy.

Loch is a Scottish Gaelic word for a lake or fjord (cognate with the Irish Gaelic loch, which is anglicised as lough and with the older Welsh word for a lake, llwch) that has been borrowed by Scots and Scottish English to apply to such bodies of water, especially those in Scotland. Whilst “loch” or “lochan” is by far the most widespread name for bodies of standing water in Scotland, a number of other terms exist. The Lake of Menteith is the only natural body of freshwater called a “lake” in Scotland, (although it is also known as Loch Innis Mo Cholmaig in Gaelic) and there are one or two other man-made “lakes”, the Lake of the Hirsel being an example. Numerous lochs are called “water”, particularly in the Northern Isles, e.g. Roer Water in Shetland and Heldale Water in Orkney. These are not to be confused with similarly named rivers, particularly in the south of Scotland, e.g. Yarrow Water and Blackadder Water.

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